Overcoming The Growth Challenges of Wood Entrepreneurs in India

Finding solutions to the shortage of quality and sustainable wood that is skilfully engineered is where the challenge and opportunity both lie

learn more about Avijit Marwah

By Avijit Marwah

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With SME's contributing 8per cent to our country's GDP besides creating multiple employment opportunities, the role of entrepreneurs in India's economy is the significant one. A multitude of business verticals showing growth in the recent past, however, the growth of the wood industry has been stagnant. Wood industry touches the automotive, packaging, architectural and furnishing domains. While the domestic demand in the interior design industry for wood products is huge, there are significant challenges posed to wood entrepreneurs who are trying to tap into that market.

A Disappearing Art

Carpentry is one of the oldest professions and instead of growing, it has shrunk over the years, due to the advent of automation and unattractive salaries according to the time, not the skill of carpenters. This repels upcoming potential talent from choosing this profession or even entering the wood industry. As it is much easier to switch out of our forbearers' profession, the knowledge that used to be traditionally percolated down from one generation to another is gradually getting lost.

As the age of the average woodworker has increased, steps must be taken to ensure that these professionals that are a reservoir of knowledge and skills are provided new incentives to retain them and promote careers in carpentry to new talent.

A Need for Standardisation

One of India's big challenges rests in the unorganised nature of the wood market itself. It has no minimum standards in construction and thus affects production, leading to a huge variability in the end-product. Further, as wood grading also varies from country to country, following an international system will help to distinguish the top grade from unsatisfactory wood quality. There are two note-worthy international standards: the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard, which categorises the sustainability of the wood used in any product to ensure deforestation is tightly controlled. The second important quantifier is the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification, which indicates that the wood is not sourced from protected ecosystems, is not logged illegally and has not been chemically treated, in order to protect the trees and the environment.

Hope for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

However, opportunities do exist for aspiring entrepreneurs to thrive and grow in today's market. For example, while consumers look for quality, they will opt for simpler, easier to maintain and cheaper synthetic product if they are not knowledgeable of the type of product they seek. Educating and facilitating the entire purchase experience of the correct materials to suit their purpose is where wood entrepreneurs can rise to the challenge by transparently providing the expertise required and thus, make their mark in the industry and forge long-lasting relationships. By sharing the qualities of wood with customers, like its durability, the species needed for a certain climate, whether it needs chemical treatment, customers are able to make a better-informed decision and investment.

Sustainable Consumption

Further, customers are more interested in making a sustainable and environmentally-friendly purchase to reduce their carbon footprint. In this lies a great opportunity to showcase this aspect of your product. Wood is the perfect sustainable solution with many key countries agreeing to plant more trees that they fell. Its source, trees, reduce the amount of carbon present in the air as they capture a certain amount of it in their trunks.

Finding solutions to the shortage of quality and sustainable wood that is skilfully engineered is where the challenge and opportunity both lie. Creating technology that automates and standardises wood processing for a quality end-product while providing a sincere, transparent and facilitated purchasing experience could aid aspiring wood entrepreneurs to break successfully into the market and establish a thriving legacy.

Avijit Marwah

Director, EvoWood

Avijit Marwah did his schooling from GD Goenka Public School in Delhi and graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2010 with a degree in Industrial and Operations Engineering. Following the legacy of wood in the family, Avijit, a 5th generation entrepreneur co-founded a startup in the modular kitchens and furniture space called Modspace in 2015; which has been acquired by another company in the interior space. He comes with a rich experience of more than 8 years in manufacturing and operations in the woodworking and the modular industry.

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