Mr. Kiran Shirsat thought he knew his career path when he switched over to L&T from Kirloskar Pneumatics in the 1980s. A certified B.E. (Mech) Engineering from Goa Engineering College, he was content working with L&T, well paying cushy job.
Then to his surprise, in 1988 he was promoted and given a transfer to Pune. The thought of leaving Goa upset him. So he chucked the L&T job and started SSI unit manufacturing Crown Caps, where L&T was the leader in this industry.
With no business background and no support in 1988, Kiran took the risk and invested Rs. 5 Lacs and named the company Prasad Packagings which was set up in Kundaim Industrial Estate, Goa. The only encouragement he received that time was from his late father.
He was not able to remove the corporate culture of L&T and switch over to the SSI culture. Since he had to do practically from the start to the last of the supply chain, meaning meeting the customers, he gradually matched their levels. I overcame the initial struggles I was facing and the venture became successful, giving me good returns in the first year.
“In one of the business trips to Chennai in 1995 by rail,” recalled Mr. Shirsat, I was served a Plastic
Satchet filled with water. Food for thought, I was amazed by the idea and gave me a serious thought of supplying water filled satchet to the tourists coming to Goa.”
In 1996, the family invested Rs 25 Lakhs through own contributions and loans from financial institutions to establish Prachi Aqua Minerals Pvt Ltd, under the brand name of “Golden Goa” for bottled Packaged Drinking Water which made a dent in the Goa market and is still the most popular brand in the state.
Prachi Aqua Minerals Pvt Ltd was the pioneer in dispensing water in 20 Ltrs Bottles in Goa even before now a popular brand Bisleri started. Initially, marketing it was tough. Like many other products, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in 2004 introduced regulations for water under Indian quality standards that is IS-14543 which is the rule for Standard Testing Instructions (STI) and was enforced. In accordance with the rule, the water had to be tested for approximately 52 parameters consisting of physical tests, chemical tests, microbiological tests, pesticide residual tests, and radioactive material tests.
Initially, the plant’s capacity was 1000 litres an hour. This was increased to 2000 litres an hour in 2006. It has now been enhanced with an extended capacity of 6000 litres an hour. The mineral water market is increasing at 40 percent annually. Golden Goa packages bottles of 20 litres, 1 litre, 500ml, & 250 ml. the PET bottles of 1 litre, 500ml and 250 ml capacity are manufactured within the plant with a blowing machine, with the capacity of 2000 bottles per hour. The company is in talks with airlines to market bottles of 250 ml and also supplying it to events such as exhibitions and open-air functions, which Goa is famous for. It is undergoing trial and testing process of making flavored energized water for sports person and regulars.
In 2005, Proctor and Gamble Ltd, the fortune 500 company, outsourced their packaging operations of “Whisper” sanitary napkins to Mr. Shirsat. To jump-start this project, he founded Prasad Enterprises at Kundaim for packaging of Whisper Sanitary napkins. It was a challenge because it involved a huge labour force and he had no experience in handling labour.
Remembering his father’s words of encouragement and dedication, Mr. Shirsat took up the challenge with 6 packing tables and employed 60 workers. Now he has expanded to 26 tables with almost 300 workers, 90 percent of them being Goans.
Prasad Enterprises has now shifted to a new 2,500 sqm premises at Kundaim Industrial Estate meeting all the packaging quality norms specified by the multinational.
Having gained the confidence of Proctor & Gamble, Mr. Shirsat bagged another prestigious outsourcing project assignment to run the US company’s R&D operations in India. Under Prasad Industries, Mr. Shirsat started a Prototyping Development Facility Laboratory, an extension of P&G’s Cincinnati PDF facility. The US company officials make regular trips to Goa to inspect the lab so that meets its production standards.
This unit is involved in the manufacturing of various R&D products for market testing in the USA. Mr. Shirsat visits Cincinnati for training whenever required. He said this unit manages different projects under the R&D. The latest development in this unit has been in the manufacturing of artificial skin (skin mimic). The manufacturing technology is developed by P&G in collaboration with Bhabha Atomic Centre. This is a unique project and the only one in India. The entire production of artificial skin is exported back to P&G USA. The unit involves all the skilled scientists and is with the latest technology.
Mr. Shirsat believes in going ahead positively and moves with the technology. He had added another plastic moulding unit in his empire. In the year 2017, he has started a unit manufacturing PET Preforms used in the manufacture of PET Bottles for Packaged Drinking Water and soft drinks.
Mr. Shirsat who keeps saying he is proud to be a Goan, operates all five units with the help of his son Prasad Shirsat and son in law Amey Kamat Mamhai.
In his future plans, Mr. Shirsat expects more outsourcing jobs from abroad as well as Indian MNCs and has plans to diversify into various other food products.