M/s Jay Wood Industry: Sustainability is the next bold step for this legacy wooden pallet manufacturer

Jay Deepak Shah, a third-generation entrepreneur of the legacy Indian business, M/S Jay Wood Industry, shares his family brand’s story and talks about the cornerstones of their success

   
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“What makes a wooden pallet unique! It’s the level of engineering and detail that goes into creating each pallet,” says Jay Deepak Shah. He is the Managing Director and CEO of M/s Jay Wood Industry, one of the legacy businesses of India and a maker of wooden pallets.

Wooden pallets are designed to ensure the safe transportation and transfer of industrial goods, which is critical for businesses, he tells us. “The pallet industry plays a major role in ensuring the safe movement of cargo, while also being highly cost-effective as it saves manpower for loading and unloading,” asserts Shah.

Shah is a third-generation entrepreneur, and he and his brother are now spearheading their legacy pallet business to the next level. He speaks with SME Futures on the intricacies of his family business.

The legacy business

“M/s Jay Wood Industry was founded by my father, the late Deepak Shah in 1994 with the goal of manufacturing wooden pallets, boxes, crates, and frames. Our company started with a manufacturing capacity of around 200 pallets per day and has grown tremendously over the years. Today, we have the capability of manufacturing over 4,500 pallets per day,” he says as he briefs us about the origins of the company.

They manufacture more than 100 types of wooden pallets, boxes, crates, frames, and plywood pallets for over 100 customers across India. They also offer refurbished pallets, plastic pallets, pallet collars, stretch film, straps and buckles/clips, ratchet belts, corrugated angles, corrugated sheets, and packaging tools. “We directly supply pallets to our local customers through our own fleet and use contracted transporters to supply to our interstate customers,” Shah tells us.

The company has recently opened its second manufacturing unit in Kosamba, Gujarat. In addition to that, the company is also a major importer of timber in India. In 2018, it became the first certified manufacturer and supplier of EPAL-CP (by the European Pallet Association) pallets in India and received the Brand Impact award in 2020 from the Indian Achievers Forum. With green initiatives in mind, it is working on incorporating sustainability into its operations.

“In Kosamba we set up a heat treatment plant in August 2022. Despite being an industry that is heavily dependent on wood as its primary raw material, there is also the responsibility to remain sustainable and reduce the carbon footprint,” he adds.

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Secret to success

Besides that, recently Shah became the first manufacturer in India to receive the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) which provides the licence and assurance to M/s Jay Wood Industry to source wood only from forests that meet strict environmental sustainability standards. “We also have the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification which guarantees responsible sourcing of wood,” he elaborates.

So, what’s the secret behind this line of achievements over the years, we ask him.

There’s no secret to success, says Shah. “I believe that our commitment to quality has been the foundation of our success,” he adds.

“We have always strived to maintain the highest standards in the quality of our products and services, which has earned us the trust and loyalty of our customers over the years. We listen to our customers’ needs and work hard to deliver products and services that meet and exceed their expectations. We are constantly updating our industry knowledge and investing in new technologies to ensure that we are always at the forefront and can offer our customers the best possible solutions,” he further adds.

According to Shah, another attribute of theirs that adds to their success is—their business transparency.

“We have always been transparent with our customers about our certifications and compliances and have maintained honest and open communication with them throughout. This has helped us to build long-lasting relationships based on trust and mutual respect,” he tells us.

Joining the family business

Shah, who graduated from RA Poddar College in Mumbai and earned a master’s degree in international business management from the University of Brunel in London (2009-10), took over the firm along with his family members in 2014. He works along with his brother Neil Shah, who is one of the partners and the COO of M/s Jay Wood Industry and plays a crucial role in managing the operations. Their mother, Kalpana Deepak Shah, is also a partner in the company and provides invaluable support to the business.

“Actually, I joined the business even before that. In 2010, I started working as soon as I returned from London,” Shah tells us.

His first job was to handle one of their clients on his own. “During this period, I started gaining knowledge about the company’s processes under the guidance of my father. My goal was to use my knowledge to expand our business by deploying the latest technology,” he says.

And during this journey, Shah’s father’s work ethics have served as both a motivator and a learning curve for him. He recalls how his father taught him some essential business principles.

“One of the most memorable lessons I learned from my father is to never say no to a client, even if it seems impossible. He taught me that giving it a try can lead to valuable learning experiences. He also emphasised the importance of going to the root of a problem and finding a suitable solution for it, as that will ensure that one never fails,” he reminisces.

“My father always treated his employees like family, which is something we try to do as well. He also stressed the importance of being transparent with clients and never lying to them, as trust is crucial in any business relationship,” he further recalls.

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Transforming M/s Jay Wood Industry

The Shah brothers have brought about some major changes in the conventional wood business, which is also a factor in their success. “Change is necessary, without it you cannot achieve growth,” he asserts.

Over the years, the company has automated their manufacturing processes, implemented quality systems in the organisation, established sustainability goals, and gained more trustworthy suppliers. During this however, they have also faced a few hurdles.

“One of the biggest challenges we faced while implementing the quality systems was changing people’s mindsets and getting them to adapt to the new systems. To overcome this, we provided continuous training to upskill our employees,” Shah tells us.

Another challenge they faced was reaching out to wood suppliers in various countries and establishing a good relationship with them. “We managed to take care of this by attending international exhibitions and trade shows to network and build trust with our suppliers,” he elaborates.

Implementing sustainability goals was also challenging as it required a significant investment of time and resources. But being a wood related manufacturing unit, it was a necessary step.

“We recognised the importance of sustainability in today’s world and were committed to doing our part. We took small steps towards achieving our sustainability goals, such as procuring wood responsibly and reducing our carbon footprint. By working closely with our employees, our suppliers, and the other stakeholders, we were able to successfully implement these changes and take our business to the next level,” he adds.

Taking forward the legacy

As third-generation entrepreneurs, the brother duo is actively involved in the business and have been working to develop their knowledge in different areas, while being focused on adding value and building their family’s legacy.

“We are both very passionate about our family business and hope to continue building on the legacy that our parents have created,” Shah avows.

“We both are in our early 30s and are currently deeply engaged in our careers. We have been working hard to take our family business to the next level and make it a highly professional organisation,” he adds.

As third-generation entrepreneurs, the Shah duo understand the pressure of taking forward a successful legacy.

Overall, it is important to stay focused on the core values of the business and maintain a good relationship with their customers and their employees as well. According to Shah, they cope with the pressure by constantly innovating and striving to stay ahead in the industry.

Innovation and learning are the key, says Shah. “We focus on being the first to adopt new technologies and processes that help us to improve our efficiency and the quality of our products,” he adds.

Shah talks about prioritising the legal compliance of the wood industry and the sustainability drives that are critical in keeping the pressure at bay. “It ensures that we are contributing positively to the environment and to society. We keep ourselves updated with the latest regulations and work towards meeting them. By doing so, we reduce the stress of facing any legal or environmental issues,” he says.

Engaging the next generation in the business

Engaging the next generation in a family business can be a delicate balance. On one hand, there may be expectations for the younger generation to carry on the legacy of the business. On the other hand, it’s important to not force someone into something that they may not be passionate about or interested in.

“In my case, it wasn’t hard for me to join the family business as I had an interest in it. However, it was important for me to gain knowledge outside of the family business before joining it so that I could bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the table,” Shah tells us.

Talking about preparing the next generation for their legacy business and their succession plan, Shah believes in giving the next generation the opportunity to try out the business and see if it is something that aligns with their interests and goals.

“If they show interest, it’s important to listen to their ideas and perspectives to help shape the future of the business. At the same time, it’s also important to provide them with guidance and mentorship and to help them develop their skills and knowledge in the industry,” he says.

Roadmap down the line

“Our aim is to expand our company and increase the growth rate 3 to 4 folds in the coming years. We are striving to become one of the major players in the industry,” Shah says about his future plans.

To achieve this, the team has devised a roadmap that involves setting up plants in various parts of India and entering the export market in the next 3 to 4 years. In addition, Jay Woods aims to increase its annual production to 6 lakh wooden pallets to meet growing customer demand.

“We are constantly looking for opportunities to innovate and implement the latest technology to stay ahead of our competitors. Our commitment to quality, transparency, and professionalism is the foundation of our success and we plan to continue this legacy by investing in our employees and ensuring their growth in our company,” says Shah, adding that he looks forward to continuing to provide top-notch solutions to their customers in India and abroad.

Giving advice to the entrepreneurs of the next generation, Shah says that the route to success in the business world is a combination of dedication, focus, and industry knowledge.

“Dedication and a high level of attention to your business ventures will yield high success rates. It’s also essential to stay updated with the latest developments in the industry and to keep track of the most significant events. This will allow you to make informed decisions that will help you to grow your organisation successfully,” he says as he signs off.

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