(Left to right) Dhananjay, Raju, Ravi, Alka & Rahul
Scientist, Engineer & Sustainability Advocate Dr. Ravi Kulkarni was working at his dream job at the R&D center of Union Carbide in 1974. It is here that he first encountered Surface Chemistry which intrigued him. As he researched, he found that surfaces could be enhanced to make everyday materials more sustainable, robust and dependable mainly with a compound called Silicones. Silicones also happened to be abundantly available, its inertness made it safe for so many human applications and it was truly a connector between organic and inorganic chemistry. He instantly fell in love with Silicones. After completing his Ph.D. from University of Columbia in Surface Chemistry, he decided to spend his life dedicated to enhancing people’s lives with Silicones.
For 16 years, Ravi worked at top U.S. companies like Exxon and IBM, learning about leadership and innovation. Even though he loved his American life, something bothered him. Growing up in a low-income family with 8 siblings, education and helping others were crucial. His mom’s words echoed: “See the world, come back to make your mark.”
Haunted by this advice, Ravi, frustrated with his job and unable to see his ideas make a real impact, decided to take matters into his own hands. He wanted to be an entrepreneur, making a difference in people’s lives, just as his mom envisioned.
In 1985, Raju Lokapur, Ravi’s brother-in-law decided to join hands with Ravi in coming back to India and embarking their journey in Entrepreneurship. Raju had just completed his Masters in Chemical Engineering from University of Lubbock and already had his Bachelors in Engineering from IIT Mumbai. With his sharp mind, acute attention to detail and had a disciplined approach to process, Raju was confident he could lead and execute Operations. Raju’s love for numbers drove his data driven decision making to take care of Finances of the company as well. Ravi and Raju’s personalities truly complemented each other to set this partnership up for success.
Ravi’s wife, Alka Kulkarni joined a few years later. Her knack for interpersonal connections and empathy based leadership made her the best fit to be the head of HR, to ensure that Elkay’s employees and their families thrive with a great workplace culture. She was also instrumental in driving all of Elkay’s ISO certifications in the years to come.
In 2003, Ravi innovated a new process that would enable silicones materials to be reprocessed so that it could be reintroduced into Industrial application as silicone fluids. This business has successfully grown to the point that a new reprocessing manufacturing facility called Circusil is being built in Kentucky, USA to be ready by the early 2025.
(Left to right) Rahul, Priya and Dhananjay
Rahul Kulkarni, Ravi’s son who had a genuine passion for innovation could see endless possibilities with the growing company. In 2013, After completing his Phd in Material Science from the University of Akron and working in Exxon for a few years, he moved his family back to Pune, India. Under his leadership, Elkay became a pioneer in petrochemical products and even won the prestigious “FICCI award for manufacturing process innovation”. At any given time, he is constantly experimenting with Silicones, which is one of the reasons why his team has introduced so many incredible products to market.
In 2018, Dhananjay Lokapur, Raju Lokapur’s son who completed his Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Santa Clara University came back to India to join the family business. Just like his father, he has an eye for numbers and is always looking for a good deal. His organization and people skills has led him to be head of Expansion projects, Procurement and Marketing. The brand new Lote Manufacturing facility was initiated and completed under his leadership. He is now focused on leading the development of the Circusil facility in Kentucky, USA.
In 2023, the addition of Priya Sapre, Ravi Kulkarni’s daughter has been instrumental in expanding the presence of Elkay in North America. She is the driving force behind setting up the Sales and Marketing location in Houston, Texas. After having spent the last 12 years in the tech space in leadership roles in Product management, Sales and Marketing and a Masters in Computer Science from Illinois Institute of Technology, she is leading Elkay’s Digital Transformation and ensuring Customer Success in Elkay’s largest market.
In 2022, Ravi was elected to the National Academy of Engineering as one of India’s preeminent engineer scientists, sustainability expert and technologist. He was recognized for his “significant contributions in the areas of surfaces, interfacial chemistry, and silicone technology.”
Today, Elkay Chemicals Private Limited has grown with its affiliates; Silicone International Products, Silken Materials and Circusil. It is headquartered in Pune India. Elkay has a state of the art R&D center at its original manufacturing facility Bhosari, India location. The manufacturing facility in Lote, India where Elkay manufactures personal care and pharma grade silicones has been instrumental in increasing exports and has led to Elkay winning the prestigious award “FICCI Excellence in Exports”. The silicone material reprocessing facility in Khopoli, India continues to expand its presence. Silken Materials has recently opened a new Sales & Marketing location in Houston Texas.
Over 30 years ago, Ravi and Raju created a company vision of being an innovation centric organization that would customize silicone products to customer specific needs so that they would be successful in enhancing people’s lives. They believed that organizations must create environmentally friendly sustainable products as well as sustainable production processes. Elkay Chemicals and its affiliates are proud to carry on this vision even today.