The Kachwalas have been dealing in glass for 127 years! Now managed by Firoz and Faiz, it makes their firm the uncrowned glass experts.
In an era where redevelopment is a keyword and pop-up shops are the way to go, there are still certain parts of the city which reflect a bygone era with cycles and hath-gaadis jostling for space with foot and animal traffic. An overcrowded street outside Masjid Bunder that is dotted with shops and vendors is a testament to this fact. A few retailers here have kept hold of their businesses for more than 10 decades and as you proceed to the fag end of the road you encounter one of them – MAK Glass.
As I enter MAK House located in gala number 97 and 99 and clarify the purpose of my visit, Firoz, an elderly gentleman akin to a headmaster asks, “How much time will you need?” “15 to 20 minutes,” I reply modestly. I am then directed to Faiz who is sitting three floors above in the same building.
“Post liberalisation the rules of the game have changed,” says Faiz, pointing out that there has been a significant increase in the number of glass manufacturing houses in India. It has now become much simpler for him to process the countless orders for glass he receives from a multitude of clients from across the country. “That doesn’t mean we have stopped sourcing glass from abroad. We still have certain niche clients who like imported glass and it usually takes us about 5 weeks to deliver a product that could range from a window pane to glass furniture,” he says.
When I ask what have been the changes and innovations that have dawned upon the glass industry since he has taken over the reins, he is quick to add, “Immense varieties of glass have come into the picture which has certainly upped the ante of the business. As a dealer you have many more options to offer, as a glass expert you can tell what works and what doesn’t. Trends are something that affects the glass industry too. There was a time when figured glass was in demand, now other kinds of glass dominate the scene like float glass, sheet glass, wired glass, laminated and toughened glass etc,” he declares.
MAK Glass has executed thousands of private projects for the well-heeled and worked with a number of hotels as well, including the Taj Mahal Hotel in South Mumbai. “You will be surprised to know that we have also ventured into making glass products for cosmetic manufacturers.” The Kachwala’s have decked out everything from churches and schools, to hospitals and private residence. “Being in the glass business for more than 10 decades we have handled a myriad of clients big and small. You name it and we have done it,” announces Faiz proudly.
Working on glass requires the right kind of machines and a skilled set of karigars. Earlier the MAK workshop was located on chaotic Dhanji Street, later it was relocated to a larger facility at Grant Road. This is where a set of specialized artisans add glitz to simple glass products. The options for customization are innumerable and this is where personalization comes to the fore.
In an age of coalition governments, where completing a five year term for the elected representative is an endearing bet for bookies, all we can say is that MAK Glass have beaten the odds, keeping their business alive across a timeline where only change is permanent.
Text By Vikas Bhadra
Photos By Snigdha Hodarkar
The Glass House
Mak House, 97/99, Dhanji Street,
P. O. Box 3418, Mumbai 03
tel: +91 22 23424395