Two young men obsessed with the idea of using different kinds of wooden material for architectural interiors ended up with an enterprise solution to their dreams.
Ankush Seth, 35, started out as an interior contractor after finishing an Interior Design course. He designed, constructed interiors on site and consulted.
"Eventually I got frustrated with the quality and productivity of the kind of work being done in the country", he explains. "I knew we had to get into mechanisation, build systems for efficient and high quality construction for interiors."
|Panel saw: Precision Work|
"This business has become so interesting that today I am totally consumed by it," says Seth.
He discovered that factories in countries like Indonesia fabricate entire interiors and then shipp them out for assembly on site. He personally saw this being done in a hotel construction project in Goa and decided he would do the same.
Their factory makes interior panels, sections, partitions, built-ins, wardrobes, false ceilings, doors, windows and some amount of loose furniture. Entire interiors are pre-fabricated, packed, transported and fitted on site.
They use all kinds of timber and man-made materials such as laminated boards, plywood, particle board but the core of their business is about wood.
|Assembling a built-n|
The duo believes that furniture or interiors built with man-made materials are not necessarily inferior. The key is first rate engineering; first rate joinery, accurate cutting and perfect finishing.
"Furniture made out of engineered wood needs proper engineering and processing as well as precise installation. But once you do that it will serve you as well as solid wood furniture for life cycle which is limited to say 10 years whereas solid wood furniture can be refurbished for multiple life cycles ," Seth believes.
|Counter made from Baltic Birch plywood|
Natural wood of course is often the first choice.
"I realised a long time ago that when working with wood it was very important to invest in good timber", says Seth. "Once you have a quantity of wood you can easily conceive the implementation of projects."
Furthermore, good quality timber obviates the need to over-compensate in design and leads to lower wastage and higher yields.
|Factory full of timber|
"There is a lot of wastage in India", he laments. In one project in Dharamsala, he found huge mounds of Red Cedar strips cut and thrown away as waste which the villagers collected for firewood. Seth picked up the waste and transported it back to his factory where he used the "waste" for various projects over six months!
Seth and his partner also faced a lot of problem with substandard local timber and their inconsistencies.
"A huge problem with locally supplied timber is consistency", he explains. "The first part of a lot could be fine but as the later ones could often turn out to be inferior."
Another shortcoming of locally supplied lumber is that it is rarely graded, properly dried or dimensioned. This translates into very low yield - almost as little as 50 per cent.
This led Seth to search for solutions and eventually to Canadian timber.
|Panel made from construction grade Douglas Fir|
"We found Canadian timber to be great value for money; it is all kiln seasoned wood, properly sorted and graded, stable and in all excellent for architectural purposes," says Seth.
He also found the support from the BCFII (British Columbia Forest Innovation Investment) office in Mumbai to be extremely helpful in selecting timber species for specific jobs, understanding the wood and locating timber suppliers in Canada. For big projects and ongoing ones, Seth imports lumber directly from Canada with the help of BCFII.
He loves to work with Canadian cedars, which he says resembles the Indian Deodar, both being of the same family. He also works with Douglas Fir, Spruce and Hemlock.
He believes imported timber is a good option not just for big jobs but also for DIY woodworkers. The precise choice of species, according to him, would depend on the level of mechanisation of the woodworker.
"Soft woods are difficult to work with for beginners", he feels. "The best bet for beginners is European White Ash and White Oak, which are both pretty hard and come in the price range of ` 1,500 to 1,700."
Teak, he says should not be the first choice for DIY woodworkers on account of its high cost. Spruce and Pine are good woods to work with. He rates Yellow Cedar very high on account of ease of machining, screwing, strength and natural termite resistance.
|Investment in top quality timber|
Walking around his factory is a pleasure, filled as it is with piles of different kinds of timber and redolent with the fragrance of freshly cut wood.
Seth and Kakkar are truly fortunate to have turned an obsession into an enterprise.
18 January 2016