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‘Innovative mettle can help us survive the chaos caused by current pandemic’

An interview with Kausar Zaman Bappi, Managing Director,
ABS Group.

With entrepreneurial spirit cherished in heart, Kausar Zaman is pretty fond of taking risks and created his own venture ABS Cables Ltd. sensing the increased demand of the optical fiber industry following the government’s initiative to pursue Vision 2021. Prior to his working at his own business, he joined his family business, Skylab Pharma as an Executive Director just after his graduation. With the passage of time, Zaman reached his goal and started ABS Cables in full swing.

Kausar Zaman, a man of sagacity, recently talked to Fintech where he shed his vast experience in business from his early age and future plan with his company. Here is the excerpt for Fintech readers.

When did you start your journey in ABS Cables Limited and how is ABS group continuing its various operations during this pandemic?

I hailed from a family that had been boasting entrepreneurial spirit for a long time. It all started with my father Late Al Hajj Md. Nurul Huq who founded Skylab Pharma. The company was known among its peers for setting new benchmarks. It was the oldest and renowned Pharmaceutical firm to come out with disposable syringes. Besides businesses, he was engaged in various social and organizational activities. He has been revered among his fellow businessmen as the Founder President of Cumilla Chambers of Commerce and the Chairman of Oman Bangladesh Leasing & Finance Company Ltd. (Now renamed as Reliance Finance Ltd.)

It was natural that I would join the family business. After my graduation, under my father’s tutelage and encouragement I joined Skylab as an Executive Director. I also wanted to hone my skill through various other ventures. For example, establishing a terry towel factory in Savar was one of my first independent ventures. Eventually I launched ABS Knitex – a yarn drying project. After the demise of my father, I had to take the charge of Skylab as Managing Director.

As the demand for optical fiber was shooting up, thanks to the Government’s initiative to pursue establishing Vision 2021, I decided to venture into this field. From a very early age, I have been a risk taker and that’s why I could pluck up the courage to come into a field like this. 

The pandemic has put a dent in every business. However, by dint of its innovative mettle and fail-safe strategy, we could survive the chaos caused by the pandemic. By the grace of Allah, ABS Cables is doing great. 

Why is ‘ABS Cables’ different from other companies? What are the unique things you have?

There is one factory of ABS cables producing optical fibers. While setting up the factory, we realized without the skilled workforce we wouldn’t be able to achieve the desired goal. In line with that thought, we sent our people to China for higher levels of training so that they can come back as experts in optical fiber manufacturing. Thankfully, China Siemens facilitated the overseas training as a part of our joint venture with them. 

From the very beginning, we decided to ensure quality products as that can ensure the competitive advantage. We print our fiber cables digitally. However, this reduces our efficiency by 30%, but on the other hand, time and again, it has ensured that we are being able to manufacture the highest quality optical fiber cable available in the country. 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. 

The core strength of the company lies in its manufacturing process, it uses Fourth Generation German Technology Machineries for production, and its quality has been hailed as even better than the imported foreign products. The fact that sets ABS apart from its contemporaries is its dedication to maintain standard and quality. The company manufactures optical 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). The process of ISO 9001(Management System Certification) and ISO 14001 (Environmental Management System) has already been completed. We officially handover the certificate very soon from BSTI authority. They are the primary suppliers of fibre optic cable for some of the most renowned ICT companies in Bangladesh.

What are the challenges you are facing in this cable industry, especially from the end of customer service? 

Make no mistake, at present, the cable industry is competing with imports. Importing such massive amounts causes us to lose foreign reserves. Unfortunately, locally manufactured optical fibers were virtually absent in the market as the production required advanced technical knowledge and support. The imported ones which were available were highly expensive.

Manufacturing optical fiber is a precise, highly technical, and specialized process, both single-mode and multi-mode fiber are composed of two concentric glass structures–the core, which carries the light signals, and the cladding, which traps the light in the core. 

Our request to the government would be to discourage such imports and to motivate local users to go for locally manufactured cables. For this, imposing a tax could be one option. This will also encourage our workers to further skill up their existing expertise and create employment opportunities.  We have achieved that prowess that we are fully capable of taking up government projects. We would like to see the local industry thrive which will help benefit the economy in the long run. 

We are talking about digital disruption nowadays. How important is the role of technology in the cable industry? What’s your opinion?

Cable industry is totally technology run. If you look at the manufacturing materials to the process that is followed, everything is totally machine driven and utmost quality has to be ensured. Presently, the market demand of the product is significantly high throughout the country because almost most of the people of Bangladesh are using the internet, CC camera and telecommunication technology. After market research of the product and thinking creatively, we are now poised to establish an optical fiber cable manufacturing plant for optimum use of the local market at a lower cost and mitigate the demands of Digital Bangladesh.

Are you taking any new innovative plans for ABS Cables Ltd.?

Optical Fiber cables (OFC) are especially advantageous for long distance communications because light propagates through the little attenuation compared to electrical copper cable. Our major challenges are to make knowledgeable the above aspects to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) companies because they provide services to the End User of our products. The progress of our Research and marketing team are significantly developing to augment the use of OFC through keeping above mentioned advantages in the mind of mass people and as a result the user of OFC is enlarged in the local market and the sale of our product is increasing day by day. Renowned ICT related companies like Summit Communication Ltd., Fiber@Home, Link3 Technologies Ltd., BDCOM online, Amber IT, Dot Internet, Infolinketc are using our products.

Where do you see ABS Cables in the next five years?  

Recently ABS Cables Limited has been nominated for “Bangladesh’s Fastest Growing Brands 2019–20″ by AsiaOne Magazine. The managing director of the company, Kausar Zaman Bappi, has been nominated for “Bangladesh’s Fastest Growing Leaders 2019-20” for his extraordinary role in advancing the manufacturing sector of Bangladesh. Such milestones have always encouraged us to go the extra mile. 

Of course achieving technical excellence is something we always look forward to. We live in a world where technology is swiftly changing every day. With the fourth industrial revolution making its headway to developing countries like ours, machine learning and Ai will come to the forefront of manufacturing. We must understand that there is no alternative to adapting to these changes. However, this pandemic has taught us one thing and that is to make our businesses afloat and keep the company agile, we must invest in developing skilled workforce who are highly adaptive to any kind of shocks. We would like to build a company culture which is enriched with all those amenities. With ABS Cables, we would like to fulfil the local demand so that the telco and internet service providers can boast about their services to the customers. 

Thanks a lot for your time.

You are welcome.

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