Born in India to a “garmento”, Ram learned basics of the businesses while taking his father’s clients on weekend tours of the Taj Mahal—“four hours up and down, listening to their yak-yak, I didn’t even know what I was learning,” he reminiscences. An engineer by education, Ram says, “I did finish my Mechanical Engineering but I am a much better tailor, working in the Apparel Industry for decades, we had to know the trades better than our work force.”
By age 30 he was the Senior Vice President of London Fog and one of the highest paid employees in North America. During the 1980s, Ram ran his own consulting company, helping set up factories in Asia, teaching them how to manufacture “the American way.”
By age 45, a near-fatal medical scare and brief taste of retirement set him on a new path to Tukatech, whose software solutions continue to change the way the industry does business.
“We’ve been labeled as ‘disruptive technologist’. We’re always looking for a different way to do things. I live by the mantra: Change is constant; growth is optional.
"Most of the industry is run by small companies with little money to invest. I wanted to help the smallest of the small, who had the desire but not the capital"
The revolution Tukatech started in May of 1995, changed the face of the CAD – CAM industry by introducing the concept of trust. Offering open and affordable systems to allow customers the ability to communicate with the world, yet powerful enough that over 8,000 systems supplied by leading suppliers including Assyst, Gerber, Lectra, Investronica, Optitex, Pad and many others were replaced at prominent companies. “We understand the value of service and honesty with our customers. There is nothing more rewarding than a happy customer. You can feel it in your heart when they embrace you with their love and most definitely you can feel it when they help you grow by buying more. Tukatech is not a business, it is a dream for our employees, it is a family of our customers and it is a place where people belong. We have enjoyed tremendous growth and have been profitable. At a time like this when most of our competitors are shrinking in size and decreasing their work force, we have been blessed by the support of our customers.”
The concept of great service with a great product that can be considered as “pure value” by buyers has been tested over time.
“My single goal was to make patternmaking a digital process. Easier said than done. Most industry people were not motivated because the cost was huge, it took too long, and a trained person ended up leaving anyway. Most of the CAD companies had failed. But the oxygen room of our industry is the pattern room. Without a pattern, you have nothing to make, nothing to cut, nothing to sell, nothing to ship.”
“The second challenge was working with patternmakers who were artisans, not computer scientists. For us to take manual operators and get them onto computer systems, we had to come up with a training process that worked in about three days or less. We did it. With the added built-in Audio-Video training for each tool in multiple languages, it became an instant hit.”
I did finish my Mechanical Engineering but I am a much better tailor, working in the Apparel Industry for decades, we had to know the trades better than our work force
In addition to training industry people, Tukatech is highly involved in education. Ram himself sits on the board of many colleges worldwide. “With over 17 Colleges and fashion Universities and now three High Schools in Greater Los Angeles teaching with TUKAcad, the training and students have made huge difference to our industry that thrives on Fast Fashion,” says Ilse Metchek, President of California Fashion Association.
After seeing the success on a national level, it was time to take Tukatech global. “Tukatech brought Digital Pattern Making to India. Of course there was Gerber and Lectra, but no one really taught us how to get the best out of our systems. The fact that all NIFT, ATDC and hundreds of colleges teach with Tukatech is only because of their commitment to the industry,” say Vijay Agarwal, Chairman of Creative Group in India.
Anil Hirdaramani of Hirdaramani Group who brought Tukatech to Sri Lanka, and Ashroff Omar of Brandix, credited Tukatech for being the first who brought Digital Pattern making to Sri Lanka.
In 2000 Tukatech was the first company to offer rental of software at $200 per month. They also opened many TUKAcenters, and formed a strategic alliance with FedEx-Kinko’s to help users plot their patterns and markers. “My objective was not to go after the big guys. Most of the industry is run by small companies with little money to invest. At least 500 ($2 million to $20 million) California companies started from nothing.
Once again in 2016, TUKATECH was the first company to offer a cloud based subscription of their award winning TUKAcad via www.tukaweb. com. The internet is a way of life today. A patternmaker sitting in a Starbucks in Newport Beach makes a pattern for someone in San Francisco, clicks a button, and a Kinko’s/FedEx delivers it in hours. Industry professionals can subscribe monthly at $200 and students can subscribe for $25 per month. “From Australia to Zimbabwe, we have really happy users we have never even met. No training, no support, no interacting. That is the simplicity of TUKA Systems,” adds Ram.
His wife, Iva Sareen, (TUKA is her nick name) the president of Tukatech, is educated in Physics and Law, and is a registered lawyer and barrister in three countries. Her love of physics created TUKA3D. She partnered with the largest CAD and 3D company, Autodesk for their real-time motion simulations and their 3D Studio Max. Iva developed the interface and TUKA3D became a game changing application for Fashion Industry.
Raj Sareen, a Physicist with Master’s Degree and experience working at NASA brought huge value to the team. Raj developed many solutions for Made to Measure as well as the Retail Industry, and is now running Styku making a huge difference in the Health Care Industry. His knowledge and input is extremely valuable in developing new technologies, such as the cloud solution.
“Cloud” is the new buzzword that really has a lot of possibilities to shorten the product development cycle time without big investments. Forty-five percent of all products get dropped before production. On average, the industry wastes 90 plus days to approve a product.
“We just launched TUKA3D Cloud Solutions—we call it ‘community collaboration’—make a sample, put it in the cloud, designer gets a notification, uploads the new garment, within 48 hours the sample is approved. It’s no different than doing it physically in a sample room, but this travels globally in very little time at a fraction of the cost,” explains Ram. There are companies already using this process very successfully on a global scale.
“TUKAcloud and TUKA3D helped us reduce our approval time from 90 days to less than 7 days. Tukatech helped us in organizing our samples and data digitally and connected all our customers to one central database.” Says Nishit Bapna, CEO of Indochine that has 23 sample rooms and hundreds of factories in 8 countries.
As to reasons for success, Ram underscores the fact that from day one, he has consistently chosen his staff based on their knowledge of the industry, rather than their sales ability. “All of our staff has industry experience, making us one among the few apparel companies that truly knows the industry from the inside out. Tukatech’s success is due primarily to our ability to implement solutions effectively, by knowing what the problems are for our customers and how to solve them, thanks to real industry experience. There is truly no substitute,” remarks Ram. When a business offers a positive experience from beginning to end, customers come back again and again.