The Gard Bags brand is an important and thriving segment of the Talwar company (Talwar Brothers Pvt. Ltd). In fact we are a family business now in our third generation, with our R&D, production and management teams operations centered in Kolkata, India. A valued resource within the worldwide music industry for more than half a century, the company is committed to the highest levels of service, quality and innovation, underpinned by our core values of honesty, integrity, and loyalty to our customers.
For more details about our origins and overall business, enjoy this article featuring the Talwar company from the December 2018 issue of Music Trades.
A THIRD-GENERATION family business with manufacturing facilities in Kolkata, India, Talwar Brothers Pvt. Ltd. presides over four distinct lines of business: Gard Bags brand bags, cases, and wheelies for brasswind and woodwind instruments; AcuraMeister brand premium fittings for violin, viola, cello and guitars; Takt brand best-in-class symphony conducting batons made of exotic woods and other top-quality materials and featuring beautiful inlays; and OEM bags for brasswinds and woodwinds and parts for violin.
Recently added product categories include precision-fin-ished bridges, saddles, and nuts for guitar and ebony sharps and keys for piano. Although rising global oil prices have increased manufacturing and transportation costs, India’s growing economy and relatively low inflation have helped Talwar remain competitive, as has its government’s continued focus on infrastructure development and export policy reforms.
After growing steadily over the years, Talwar’s sales have surged recently, especially for its new Gard Elite hybrid premium bag and case series. Meanwhile AcuraMeister ustomers and luthiers, particularly in Europe, have been returning with larger repeat orders. The company’s products are sold worldwide, with its strongest markets in Japan, Europe, and the U.S. And according to Vice President and COO Abhi Chakrabarti, China is becoming an increasingly important market. “It’s heartening to see that customers in China value quality and are ready to pay a premium for quality products,” he says.
More than 25 years of partnering with Japanese and German OEM customers has helped refine Talwar’s processes and product quality. At the same time, implementation of new technologies has advanced manufacture precision and consistency. For example, computerized pattern sewing machines reduce lead time and improve productivity while enhancing quality. Meanwhile, end-user feedback and brand promotion are facilitated through social media and the company’s website, and tools such as WhatsApp, WeChat, and email streamline connection with customers and intracompany communication—all developments that the company’s founder never could have imagined.
Balraj Talwar migrated to Kolkata in 1943 with just a few pennies in his pocket after the partition of India. He 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 officially launched in 1948. Fourteen years later, Balraj’s eldest son, Vijay Talwar, enrolled at the University of Hamburg, Germany, eventually earning a master’s degree in wood technology to help grow the business. He returned to India in 1967 to find that his father’s company had been embezzled out of USD $1.5 million. Using his newly acquired technical knowledge, he guided Talwar Brothers to become the first company to export ebony from India, returning it to profitability in 1972.
In the early ’90s, recorder maker Moeck Blockfloetenbau und Verlag, a longtime Talwar ebony customer, asked Vijay to make a cotton bag for its recorders. One year and 178 samples later, Moeck submitted an order, and Talwar Brothers had made its first foray into musical instrument bags. After exhibiting recorder bags at the Frankfurt Musikmesse, the company was approached by Normans Musical Instruments in the U.K. to make bags for its brass and woodwind instruments. Talwar’s Gard Bags brand was born in 1995, with its logo—a mother kangaroo with a baby in her pouch—representing how Gard bags protect the instrument with the same care that a mother gives her child.
In 1993, Vijay’s daughter Pooja apprenticed for Moeck in Germany to become a woodwind maker, then joined Switzerland’s Fehr Blockfloetenbau for two years before returning to India in 1999. By that time, Talwar Brothers had established itself as a leading producer of bags, both on an OEM basis and with its own brand of Gard gigbags, as well as violin accessories from exotic woods, which were then sold in the U.S. by St. Louis Music Company. Today, Talwar Brothers is led by President and CEO Vijay Talwar, Vice President and COO Abhi Chakrabarti, and Director and CFO Pooja Talwar Chakrabarti.
Looking ahead to the next 70 years, says Abhi Chakrabarti, Talwar Brothers is committed to offering “more value, better quality, and more convenience to all our stakeholders, from customers and suppliers to all the people who work with us. Excellence can be attained with constant feedback and innovation.”
MBA in Hotel and Business Management, Cornell University, USA In-charge - Marketing and Sales
Woodwind instrument Maker (Germany and Switzerland) In-charge - Finance, Bags and Wheelies
Masters in Wood Science and Technology, Hamburg University Germany Overall in-charge, especially wood products.
Recognised star export house by the Government of India
The Indo German Chamber Of Commerce
NAMM – National Association of Musical Merchants
VSA – The Violin Society Of America
MDA – Music Distributors Association
ITG–International Trumpet Guild
Capexil – Chemicals & Allied Products Export Promotion Council, India
Texprocil – The Cotton Textile Export Promotion Council Of India
The Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council, Mumbai
The Synthetic & Rayon Export Promotion Council, Mumbai
Council For Leather Exports, Chennai
The Handicrafts Export Promotion Council, New Delhi
The Eastern India Shippers Association, Calcutta
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