COMPANIES TO WATCH
|Talwar Brothers has embraced the Japanese concept of Kaizen, or continuous improvement, in all aspects of its operation.
Accessory maker ramps up business specializing in premium wood fittings for orchestral strings.
BEST KNOWN FOR its Gard brand of bags, cases, and wheelies for brasswind and woodwind instruments, Kolkata, India-based Talwar Brothers Pvt. Ltd. has seen particular growth in its AcuraMeister division, which specializes in premium wood fittings for violin, viola, cello, and guitar. Launched in 2014, AcuraMeister serves fine orchestral string shops and luthiers worldwide through its adherence to high technical and aesthetic standards, responsible sourcing of the finest tonewoods, innovative design and engineering, and production methodologies that ensure unsurpassed consistency and exceptional value.
Talwar serves the needs of distinguished instrument companies worldwide, with major markets including the United States, Germany, Italy, France, England, and Japan. After partnering with Japanese OEM customers, in particular, for more than two decades, Talwar has fully embraced the concept of Kaizen, or enterprise-wide continuous improvement. Checks and measures are incorporated into each step of its production, product defect data is collected and analyzed every day, and corrective measures are shared with all team members. “Quality is part of our DNA, says Director and COO Abhi Chakrabarti. “We’re known for precision, and we challenge ourselves to consistently achieve manufacturing tolerances better than what are required by our customers.”
To achieve such consistent performance at AcuraMeister, for example, the company controls every step of production, from raw materials acquisition and rough processing at its in-house sawmill to precision grinding, sanding, and finishing of every part. The finest quality tonewoods, including black ebony, rosewood, snakewood, European and Indian boxwood, tintul (tamarind), and satinwood, are responsibly selected, precisely seasoned, classically carved, and meticulously finished to embody refinement in both form and function.
Two of AcuraMeister’s signature innovations are the InSight violin and viola endpin, whose unique design enables a safe, quick internal view of the instrument without disturbing the set-up, and the DaVinci cello or bass endpin, which tightens almost effortlessly but holds up to 150 pounds without slipping. The brand’s latest innovations, designed to enhance instrument performance, are Thinline hollowed-body violin, viola, and cello tailpieces, and Thinline Guarneri-style chinrests, which are strong yet lighter, retaining the same professional elegance.
Much of Talwar’s success in this segment of its business is tied to the company’s origins as one of India’s leading wood specialists devoted to the music industry. With just a few pennies in his pocket after the partition of India, Balraj Talwar migrated to Kolkata in 1943 and borrowed money to start a business in timber that was in short supply after World War II. As the business grew, he enlisted his brothers to help him manage it, and Talwar Brothers was incorporated in 1948. The founder’s son, Vijay Talwar, earned his master’s degree in wood technology from the University of Hamburg and assumed direction of the company in the mid-1960s. Under his leadership, Talwar Brothers became the first company in India to export ebony, and has since continuously elevated its technical sophistication, expanding its premium-level production capacity to meet growing demand and emerging as an important OEM resource for several of Europe’s most discerning musical fittings suppliers.
Another successful element of Talwar’s business is its Gard division, devoted to professional caliber leather gig bags for brasswind and woodwind instruments. The bag factory was recently upgraded with new machines from Adler Germany, Juki, and Mitsubishi. New products in Talwar’s Gard Elite bag series include models for tenor and bass trombone and a combination trumpet and large-bell flugelhorn bag. A Gard Elite euphonium gig bag will be introduced at the 2020 Winter NAMM Show.
Beyond AcuraMeister and Gard, Talwar Brothers produces Takt brand premium conducting batons, plus an extensive operation supplying brasswind and woodwind bags and a wide range of musical instrument parts to a growing list of OEM customers. Recently added product categories include precision-finished bridges, saddles, and nuts for guitar, as well as keys and ebony sharps for piano.
With Vijay Talwar still at the helm as president and CEO, the company is now represented by a third generation in son-in-law Abhi Chakrabarti, who earned his master’s degree at Cornell University, and daughter Pooja Talwar Chakrabarti, who studied woodwind instrument making in Germany and now serves as director and CFO.
Abhi Chakrabarti reports that while uncertainty in global markets has tempered Talwar’s sales in North America over the past year, business remains vibrant in Europe and growing in Japan. Meanwhile, he observes that the Chinese market is “booming,” particularly for higher-end AcuraMeister violin fittings. Generally, he expects sales to “start picking up” in the second quarter of 2020 “as political and economic changes more or less settle down,” improving the business climate and encouraging consumer spending in the North American market. Longer-term, he comments, the ultimate reward for the company’s commitment to continuous improvement and relentless pursuit of precision manufacture will be for AcuraMeister wood fittings, Gard bags, and Takt batons to become “the preferred choice for serious musicians worldwide.”