The thriving small town of Tiruppur in Tamil Nadu, which is now the knitwear capital of India, was just a tiny village around four decades ago. It used to be part of Mangalam panchayat and Palladam taluk, but today these two places are subsumed under Tiruppur, which has emerged as a district headquarters of the eponymous district.
Raja M Shanmugam, president of Tiruppur Exporters’ Association and founder of Warsaw International, a garment export company, shared the story of Tiruppur at an award function in VIT Vellore, and shared its special characteristic as a town that birthed a number of entrepreneurs.
“In Tiruppur there is a saying, ‘today’s labourer is tomorrow’s owner’,” said Shanmugam, in his address after receiving The Weekend Leader – VIT Amazing Entrepreneur Award from Dr D Ashok, Dean, VIT Business School.
Shanmugam said Tiruppur had created many entrepreneurs, and it was unlike Sivakasi, an industrial hub in Tamil Nadu, known for its printing and firecracker industries, where the complete business was in the hands of a few families.
Tracing his journey as an entrepreneur, Shanmugam, 53, said he started Warsaw International in 1989 along with his brother M Ramaswamy after he failed to achieve his dream of entering the civil services and becoming an IAS officer.
Since 1992 they began to export. For several years the company supplied to a single international client, but now has added multiple clients.
Tiruppur, Shanmugam said, was a resilient town and the industry bounced back from a difficult period in 2011 when more than 700 dyeing and bleaching units were shut down on pollution grounds following a court order.
“The industry implemented Zero Liquid Discharge facilities and resumed operations,” he said, answering a student during a panel discussion with VIT Business School students.
Responding to another query, Shanmugam said the industry faced challenges post-demonetisation and Tiruppur’s turnover declined from Rs 46,000 crore to Rs 44,000 crore in 2017-18. This year, the industry is back on the growth track, he said.
The panel discussion was moderated by P C Vinoj Kumar, editor, The Weekend Leader. – TWL Bureau