From a small apparel buying house to a giant ready-made garments (RMG) factory, Snowtex's rise bears the testimony of business commitment and quality service that has provided the apparel maker a solid foundation.
Surpassing a myriad of challenges, the RMG-maker had to wait one-and-a-half years to bag a small order from a US buyer and since then, the neophyte manufacturer did not have to look back, its triumphant march was underway.
In his reaction to Snowtex's success with The Business Standard, Managing Director SM Khaled said, "Today, our position owes much to the US buyer Berne Apparel. We always consider our client a great partner."
Khaled explained that he tried about one-and-a-half years to reach the buyer that gave him a small order, and when that task was carried out successfully, a big order came up. That was the beginning of making a large gain.
"It was only possible due to our business commitment and trust that we earned through our dedication and quality service," he said.
Khaled said after a three-year business journey, the foreign buyer inspired him to set up a garment factory, however, he did not have sufficient capital to import the machinery required for setting up a garment factory.
Then, the buyer offered him to develop a partnership – if the buying house owner continued business with the buyer, the latter would pay the cost of the machinery, explained an enthusiastic Khaled.
The businessman accepted the generous offer and the journey of Snowtex kicked off in 2004. The joint venture is running well as of today.
Looking back on the primary initiative, the apparel maker said his first factory started with only 800 people and the second one with a joint partnership with the US brand.
The financial help and orders helped launch the first two factories of Snowtex, he said, adding that they have been working with this buyer for more than 20 years.
Now Snowtex Group has a total of four factories employing about 13,000 workers with $200 million turnover per year.
The RMG factory set a $250 million export target for the year 2021 based on the assurances of its business partners.
Even when the pandemic was at its peak and many resorted to downsizing their workforces, Snowtex continued hiring new workers, claimed the managing director.
In order to cope with the work pressure, the group has employed around 3,500 workers during the pandemic.
They plan to hire an additional 3,000 individuals within the next three months to entertain current and future orders, said SM Khaled.
He added that two major buyers have occupied about 55% of the annual production capacity of the group.
"If I reminisce about the past, I would say I did not witness a negative growth year. We made double or in some cases triple growth every year," he said.
Partnership with buyers
The group has partnerships with some 17 brands and retailers including: Berne Apparel, Decathlon, C&A, Colombia, Camaieu, VF Corporation, Canada Sportswear, Huger Clothing, Toray, Bestseller, and Kaufland. They have diversified markets in: the EU, US, Canada, Japan, and Russia.
In 2015, Snowtex had a partnership agreement with French sportswear brand Decathlon to provide management support and training to enhance efficiency.
"Decathlon is trying to improve efficiency of its all suppliers across the world, our current efficiency at 60%, five years back it was only 45%. We have plan to improve it at above 80% by 2023," he added.
The start was not glorious
Snowtex Sportswear Limited is a gold-rated green-certified jackets and sportswear factory located in Dhamrai while its journey started off in 1998 as an accessories supplier.
After a year it turned into an apparel buying house, but did not get any positive response from buyers in the first six months.
SM Khaled said he landed a job in the garment sector after finishing his studies and tried some partnership business later.
"Finally in 1998, I started Snowtex with a small amount of capital to supply accessories to garment factories," he said.
At the very outset, there was no office and work from home was the norm, he said, adding that gradually the thought of opening an apparel buying house popped up.
Beyond conventional products
Snowtex Group looks beyond production of conventional products. It produces outerwear, workwear and sportswear generally treated as tough products in comparison with the manufacturing process of other shirts and bottom items.
The group managing director said if anyone can go for production of any tough product that may help them reap more benefits in the long run.
"We have started such products driven by our buyers' interest. Making a good business refers to maintaining consistency," he observed.
Generally, outerwear is a season-based product, and to keep up the line of production, the group also manufactures some bottom items.
Employees turn profit-sharing partners
The RMG owner has a goal to offer a little more benefit to his buyers through a competitive price offer and also bring a little more happiness to Snowtex Group employees.
"When we part with a little more support to our employees whom we consider our family members, we see less migration of workers which helps us achieve better efficiency," he said.
Because of these reasons, the buyers provide free lunch for about 12,000 workers of two factories of Snowtex.
After the first year into the business, the number of Snowtex team members was three only – which increased to 10 after the end of two years.
The group shares approximately 15% of profit with all of its employees as a performance incentive bonus, aiming to give them the confidence in the ownership of the company.
Of the 10 persons that joined Snowtex 20-plus years ago, the majority of them are still working for the group. Most of them have now become leaders in various capacities.
"I joined the company as an executive 20 years back. I was the [company's] fifth employee," said Joydul Hossain, assistant director at Snowtex Group.
In his reaction, Joydul said he does not consider himself an employee, instead, he has developed a sense of belonging to the company.
"We own the group. We work together, grow together and bring happiness for all of us," he explained.
Snowtex introduces its own brand
In 2018, the group started a retail brand SaRa for the local market. It has plans to give more effort on this retail outlet to make it a global brand.
"Our main goal is to serve our customers and bring them happiness after getting our products," said Khaled.
He also mentioned that his daughter, an 11th-grader, has also contributed to the designing part for SaRa.
She is enjoying work with SaRa by creating new designs.
"My daughter is eagerly waiting to complete her studies and engage herself entirely in the new enterprise to make it a success," he said.