V Keshavdev, executive editor, Outlook Business: It is my great pleasure to host the second Outlook Business Smart Enterprise Cluster Meet. For close to 10 years now, we have been covering 52 prominent industrial clusters. We have seen quite a few SMEs scale up and go global over the years. It's really been an insightful story for us to share with our readers. I hope you can share your story of scaling up and going global. So Srikrishna, how did your entrepreneurial journey start off?
Srikrishna Karkare, MD, Enpro Industries: Getting into this business was not planned, but we evolved as we got opportunities. We started off by trading some items related to the engineering industry and, over a period of time, we found that there was a need to package the products that we were trading. A lot of customers were looking for this service. So, packaged piping systems is our business where we provide value. Our application has evolved over the years in the industries where we serve.
Keshavdev: How did you stumble upon the idea of getting into it and how easy was it to scale up? Hitachi was your first client and that set the ball rolling for Enpro Industries. Could you you take us through that interesting story?
Karkare: Hitachi was our first international customer. It so happened that they quite literally walked into our factory one day. Our small plant was located next to the Thermax unit. There was a delegation from Hitachi that was keen on sourcing from low-cost countries. They were visiting Thermax to find out if they could source something from these countries. Lubrication systems were also on their list and they asked Thermax to refer them to someone who could do it. I had started my career in Thermax, so a lot of people knew me and the business that I was into. That was quite a serendipity. We encashed this opportunity well and Hitachi found in us an interesting partner to work with. But later on that relationship became harrowing for us.
Initially, there was this gentleman called Mr. Hagiwara, who led the delegation. For reasons best known to him, he chose to work with us after interviewing the entire company — right from the vendor to me. After travelling across the country auditing each of our sub-vendors, they chose to give us an order of about Rs.