Meet the GBPAP18’s outstanding PTC showcases: Gajraj Cleaners (India)

For the coming period, we will present you week by week, the most outstanding PTC showcases that were officially nominated for The Global Best Practices Awards Program 2018. The profiles of these companies are also present in the WOPCOM platform, which you can access here.

Gajraj Cleaners (India) – The Special Award for Extraordinary Business Development at GBPAP18 – Retail Textile Cleaning.

Innovative cleaning with solar power

Small business? Well, Gajraj Cleaners is located in the Ahmednagar District near the famous spiritual and religious center known as Shri Saibaba Sansthan of Shirdi. The town itself is small to Indian standards with just
300.000 inhabitants. Despite very limited business growth opportunities as compared to larger cities Gajraj over the past 45 years has put continuous sustained efforts to provide environment friendly and cost effective laundry and dry cleaning services. But small business? The laundry operates with seventy employees, processing well over 2.500 items per day, delivered to and from nine retail outlet centers in the city.

Promotion. Building a profitable business in a small Indian city without major industries or centers for knowledge workers like the booming IT-business, processing 2500 garments a day is absolutely an achievement. Gajraj has been there now for 45 years and has managed to create sustainable business with a substantial group of returning customers and  growth with new customers. The company hardly does advertising, though. Most of these customers know each other and trust upon the ‘word of mouth’: if one says that a laundry delivers good service, than there is no reason to doubt that. Still, from time to time Gajraj runs promotional events like discount vouchers or by  rewarding existing clients with incentives upon introducing new customers to the laundry.

Fuel savings

Gajraj as a laundry service provider is very conscious about energy and environment. The laundry has invested in solar heating systems for hot water and steam generators. Recognizing the efforts, Gajraj has been awarded with certificates of excellence, even by the Indian government. The laundry is proud of its savings that it has achieved in the usage of fuel: so far the company has saved 108.000 liters of oil over the last ten years, out of
which seventy percent would have been imported since India is an import dependent country when it comes to fuel such as diesel. Gajraj is one of the few – or may be the only – commercial retail companies having installed
a parabolic Scheffler dish of 16 square meters producing an average of 800 to 900 kilo steam on clear sunny days. This was installed in 2006, but in 2013 the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of India, awarded Gajraj with the Solar Thermal award. It motivated Gajraj to take an extra step. Additionally, in 2015 the laundry installed its own small captive electric generation by using a solar tide grid system. The company has produced 18.000 units of electricity from this small plant.

Logically, the use of solar energy wherever possible, is one of the biggest innovations for Gajraj. Next, the company is constantly upgrading the machines it uses and searching for better, more eco-friendly chemicals. The approach to carbon emission, energy and at same time costs is evident from Gajraj’s commitment to use as much solar energy. But it’s not only the environment that Gajraj cares about. The laundry cares about people too and it shows by looking at the labour policies. All wages, benefits including provident fund, gratuity, medical insurance are given exactly as per government policies, but the company does more. One of the most remarkable things: corporate social responsibility activities like book support to children of employees and loans for personal needs. Keeping people happy: the production of Gajraj is only possible by having a dedicated, motivated and trained work force and the company fully understands that.

The parabolic Scheffler dish of 16 square meters can produce 800 to 900 kilo steam per day

Different market

Gajraj has seen its efforts acknowledged and rewarded over the past years. Yet, the company is modest. ,,Some of the markets in world are highly developed, use latest technologies and they have access to the best of knowhow in this business,” thus a statement of the laundry. ,,However we operate in a very different market which offers challenges unique to our country.” Gajraj mentions the multi-color garments, a very low know-how to users on fashion, a lot of cotton fabric since India is hot and humid and no platform for skill development. Laundry and dry cleaning is still perceived as a luxury service, though this is changing rapidly in the major cities. Despite these
challenges, Gajraj has, from day one, followed the policy of giving the best service to its clients, being as much environment friendly as it can. Not only did it save costs for the company itself, but it also helped the country in  saving fossil fuel. And that is more than a major achievement.