Tukatech Web Venture Showing Fast Growth

Los Angeles–based Tukatech Inc. is trying to help the local apparel industry become a workplace that never sleeps.

With the launch of TukaWeb, www.tukaweb.com, earlier this year, Tukatech brought an around-the-clock outlet to the designers, patternmakers and other behind-the-scenes apparel industry players who work on their own—and sometimes well into the night. Using TukaWeb, they can process pattern designs, markers, grading and plotting at rates of $10 to $20 per order without leaving the comfort of their homes or offices.

The concept is apparently gaining favor. TukaWeb has logged more than 400 clients from 39 countries and realized a 127 percent jump in revenues for its second quarter.

TukaWeb is able to fill such orders with the help of its TukaCenters, 29 Kinko’s-like production studios based around the world. Tukatech has outfitted these centers with the latest in CAD systems, injket plotters and design software. They can process CAD or manual patterns and do data conversions and grading, as well as 3D draping.

Using TukaWeb and the TukaCenters, orders that come in at 1 a.m. in Los Angeles will likely be forwarded to a TukaCenter in India, Vietnam, Korea or wherever the sun is still shining. The order can be processed within 12 hours and sent back to Los Angeles by lunch. Other orders, such as data conversions, will take only two hours, while pattern and marker making will take from 24 to 48 hours.

Los Angeles–based free-lance patternmaker Cindy Gotts has found the service particularly appealing. The busy designer and Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising instructor has been known to work at odd hours, often burning the midnight oil.

“Working from my home, I create patterns and markers, then e-mail them to the Tuka- Center,” said Gotts. “About the time my clients have finished their first cup of coffee, they’re getting a call from Rachel [Carson] at the TukaCenter telling them that their plots are ready for pickup. It can’t get much easier than that.”

Tukatech’s Web venture is also capitalizing on the growing data-conversion business by converting CAD patterns done in one manufacturer’s system to another’s format. The problem of data conversion arose during the early days of CAD production, when only a couple of producers marketed proprietary systems. With the influx of CAD companies over the years, matching data between systems has become a time-consuming chore.

“What used to take five days can now take two hours,” said Tukatech Chief Executive Officer Ram Sareen. “A lot of these standards have been forced on companies. We’re trying to make it easier. The overall objective is to reduce the product-development time.”

While Sareen has often championed smaller companies in Los Angeles, he has also found customers with larger outfits such as Nike Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. Tukatech recently signed another multi-million-dollar contract with a major U.S. retailer to deliver up to 40,000 new styles per year for the retailer’s private-label program. The growth has led Tukatech to expand its operations worldwide. The company just opened offices and a TukaCenter in Istanbul, Turkey, which will serve Eastern Europe and portions of Russia and the Middle East.

Tukatech recently promoted Sonia Chhabra to director of the Tuka Group, which oversees the TukaCenters, the TukaWeb and other products. The company also hired Laura Albano as a manufacturing specialist to handle consulting and implementation of the TukaSystems and TukaWeb services.

Having forged a partnership last year with New York–based software company Justwin Technologies to sell its collaborative product commerce systems, Tukatech is expanding its reach by providing color data management services. The company has reached an agreement with Malaysian company eWarna to provide color spectrometers at select TukaCenters later this year. This will allow Tukatech to color-match fabrics and materials over the Internet using eWarna’s products. —Robert McAllister