In 2013, Tarun Raj—in his late twenties—established Customized Kitchen India, widely known as CKI, in the commercial kitchen equipment space, to cater to the hospitality industry needs, and beyond.
Within three years, he has Wensured that CKI is not only recognized as one of the foremost brands in the commercial kitchen equipment segment, but also as a service-oriented company.Currently, CKI has big brands into its kitty as its clients, whom it provides with international quality kitchen equipment and appliances. More importantly, Tarun says, it is about creating a healthy relationship between equipment suppliers and users. “The hospitality industry was skeptical about using Indian equipment, as there were a handful of players and they didn’t offer quality products. We happen to change that mindset,” he explains.
The change in mindset has not happened overnight. It took time to convince some of the prominent industry players to try his products to prove his mettle and grow. When he entered the competition to find his own place, it was a saturated zone. Although, the hospitality industry was growing with many domestic and international players in the market in India, the scope for a new player was limited.
Hospitality business is usually relationship driven, and bulk orders are placed for many properties in
different stages of construction/development. Hence, CKI started capitalizing on the demands of small brands and eventually rising to a level where it could serve big brands too. Over the years, the commercial kitchen equipment segment in India has evolved a lot, riding on the growing scope of hospitality, healthcare, entertainment, dining, outdoor catering businesses, etc. However, in the organized market, the competition is even more due to entry of international brands/companies in the last decade. On the other hand, unorganized equipment manufacturers have been able to sustain growth as many companies relied on cheap alternatives. Hence, Tarun started eyeing this area, where he could offer a service reducing the existing distinction to naught.
He says, “Getting products on time is one of the major concerns, and I’ve tried to address this issue with a promise. Not only this, CKI even offers 18-month warranty on its products.”
On October 15, 2016, on his birthday, Tarun went on to receive ‘Best Commercial Kitchen Equipment Company in Delhi NCR’ award from International Product & Service Awards (IPSA). “It was a proud moment for CKI and the hard work has paid off. We are thankful to our clients and consultants who have been part of our journey and bestowed confidence in our efforts,” he adds.
So, what’s next on cards for Tarun?
I plan to venture out to international shores— prompt comes the reply. “Being in the service industry for over 10 years has given me many opportunities to travel to different cities. And I have always wanted to venture to Dubai.
Therefore, we are going to have our own set-up soon, and expect it to be operational in the next fiscal i.e., 2017–18,” he reveals. In fact, Tarun expects that his presence in Dubai will open many opportunities for the company to meet more international companies, thanks to ‘Make in India’ initiative promotional efforts by the Government of India. It is commendable= that Tarun has taken CKI to a competitive scale within a short span of time. And, according to him, this is just the beginning of his story. “There are many more milestones lined up for me to achieve,” he sums up on a positive note.