Six months into the pandemic, things are coming back to normalcy, a new normal to be more precise. How do you think companies should act now? What has been the case of ABS Cables?
Coming from a business family always has its unique set of advantages. Entrepreneurial spirit, which I consider to be an indomitable spirit, always enables businessmen to move forward no matter how difficult the situation is. I would thank my late father, the founder of Skylab Pharma for passing on to me that good pool of genes that enabled endurance and resilience in me. The uphill battle to survive the calamities of COVID-19 gave us a fresh perspective. Yes, it has made a lot of businesses go kaput but in our case, the opposite happened.
From an entrepreneurial point of view, echoing the industry experts, I would like to say that businesses should act, not react. To much extent we all had to make difficult choices like laying off to mitigate the expenses. This brings a new challenge to the front and that is whether enough skilled resources will remain in the talentpool of the company. As for our company, we have always been dedicatedly developing a skilled workforce because we knew importing products was not an option for us and to ensure quality manufacturing locally, we must have a honed group of people who can lead the process of developing world class products. Luckily we didn’t have to go through any lay off. But we had challenges like how to procure raw materials since the lockdown caused a nationwide standstill. We were brave enough to decide on time that we must act fast and make arrangements to bring raw materials by air. This kind of bold move is not regular in the market. It helped us immensely from two points of view. The manufacturing process went on keeping the team active in work and preventing them from succumbing to the panic of going out of business. At the same time, we could deliver products to the market on time.
About the recovery of our economy, how optimistic are you?
The economy is a complicated ballgame; it’s integrated with so many components and there are numerous factors that affect the ups and downs. Debates are ongoing about whether the recovery will be V-shaped or U-shaped. I would like to second the optimists and strongly believe that we would come with flying colors soon, provided the entire business community embraces certain strategies and the government lends a hand in making those successful. For example, leading through change is an endurance game; one must treat it like a marathon. We must plan for a long haul; which means the focus should now be on 2021-how to turn it into a year of super productivity and performance; lamenting over 2020 won’t serve the purpose. The second set of actions should identify what we need to ensure the aforesaid super performance. Every business must ponder over their technological prowess for better operations; coupled with that using analytics to generate productive insights is badly needed. Last but not least, 2020 showed us that automation is more important than ever before. If businesses can work on these issues, I believe they can render more services to the battered economy to heal soon.
What do you think your industry would perform through this pandemic?
Speaking of the industry I am working in, in a bid to manufacture the highest quality optical fibers, we never compromised with the best industry practices used globally. Our R and D team has been working hard with renewed vigor to offer some breakthroughs not exhibited earlier in this industry. With raw materials sources internationally, the HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) we use for our optical fiber cables comes from world renowned company, Borouge, UAE. The optical fibers from ABS Cables are fitted with meter ID’s at 10 meter intervals. There is an advantage to this. This is helpful in detecting disturbance accurately and while repairing, time efficiency is ensured. manufactures fibre cables under the aspect of reliability, productivity, process repeatability and hence, quality assurance is supported by a broad range of measuring and control technology. Every single variant of their cables are certified by Bangladesh Standards & Testing Institution (BSTI), ISO 9001 and certification process is going on for Environmental Management System ISO 14001. They are the primary suppliers of fibre optic cable for some of the most renowned ICT companies in Bangladesh. Having said that, I am thankful to the government for their unprecedented role in bailing out businesses. My only plea to them (the government) is to reconsider the whole issue of importing; instead of encouraging it, they must discourage the practise. Both the local industry and those who receive our services would benefit if locally made optical fibers get priority. By imposing further tax on imported cables will pave the path for ensuring more locally made world class optical fibers. Make no mistake, the pandemic has shown that digital connectivity is not only a cry for the professionals but also the house holds. This means optical fibers will be needed in a humongous amount and to fulfil that demand, ABS cables have been working relentlessly. We would want to set a global footprint in future. We hope the government would provide the required policy support in that endeavour too.
Many fear that due to the slowdown of the economy, new investments will be delayed; eventually contributing more to the ongoing joblessness. How can we attract more investment?
All the discussions around COVID-19 in the initial phase focused on one topic: saving lives and livelihood. Yes, there is no denying the fact that due to this pandemic, the already bad job condition in the job sector has become worse. Now to prevent it from facing the worst, investments are needed. We are happy to see that the government is signing new deals with foreign countries interested to invest here; we have read the news of new EPZs being set up. All these are signs of optimism. Having said that, local business owners too have a role to play by investing in businesses which are labor intensive to create more jobs and will ensure timely ROI. I myself have been thinking about new investments. But the government’s guidance is of paramount importance to win over the investor’s trust. I hope BIDA will play a more robust role and pave the ways of such new investments. Thus by making businesses more agile and creating newer solutions, I believe we all can play a good role in helping the economy to bounce back and materialize the dream of becoming a middle income country.