Speed is Key to Businesses says Faruk

Posted 5 years ago

“Businesses move to where there is high speed internet because so much is done online now,” says Faruk. “The speed with which you can send documents, graphics, pictures and emails and deliver products and services is absolutely key. For Kirklees to attract all businesses from SMEs to large multinationals, it has to deliver good internet connections.”

He’s the earliest of early risers.

Faruk Amin, Sales Director at Brighouse-based telecoms business Abzorb, routinely gets up at 3.55am and is in work by 5.30am. He breaks from work at 7.15am to take five-year-old daughter Sophie to school, then he’s back to Abzorb’s Armytage Road offices for a full day’s work.

He jokes: “I have always been an early riser – which annoys the hell out of everybody! For me, five hours sleep is more than enough. I come into work early to deal with everything that doesn’t require a response. I can get so much done that way.”

Early starts go back to boyhood. “When I was 13, I had four paper rounds – mornings, evenings, Saturdays and Sundays,” he says. “The mornings meant 5.30am starts and I would be delivering again after school until about 6pm. I got paid £29.50 a week. I would buy things like marbles and sell them on at school with a bit of a mark-up to generate a bit of profit. I was always looking for an opportunity.”

Faruk, whose parents came to Britain from Bangladesh, was born in Halifax and attended Holmfield High School, but transferred to North Halifax Grammar School where he won the Sociology Prize awarded by the University of Huddersfield. “I was always interested in people and how they interact,” he says.  Having no desire to go to university, Faruk started work as a trainee at Sainsbury’s in Halifax. “At the time, I wanted to be in retail,” he says. “But after a while I found it wasn’t challenging enough for me. I wasn’t allowed to think creatively or go beyond traditional and expected ideas – which was when I decided there must be more to this.”

Faruk joined Avocet Hardware in Brighouse in a sales role. After three years selling door and window locks, he followed the lead of a couple of colleagues and moved to Abzorb in new business sales. In 2007, he was promoted to sales director and has been with the business now for 16 years.

He says: “It was quite daunting to come here, to be thrust into the world of technology. The industry was all about ‘the next big thing’. It was fascinating because it was very new.”

Abzorb, founded in 1992, offers mobile phones, fixed lines, phone systems and network services for individuals and businesses. It’s billed as a one-stop shop for solutions and support to help businesses stay connected and is the biggest independent telecoms company in West Yorkshire. 

Some 99% of its business is with SMEs. Customers range from Huddersfield Town FC to University College London. Abzorb is also one of 10 mobile service providers in the country which allows them to contract and bill their customers directly and process live changes on the networks.

The company is also the only current provider of Kirklees CORE – a major project to bring superfast digital connectivity to Kirklees, the 72km ultra-fast, pure fibre network is being built by infrastructure provider CityFibre while Abzorb is partnering CityFibre and Kirklees Council as the first service provider to deliver services over the CORE network. Faruk says the aim of the project is to “transform the Kirklees area into a place businesses want to come to” by bringing high-speed gigabit technology to the borough. 

“Businesses move to where there is high speed internet because so much is done online now,” says Faruk. “The speed with which you can send documents, graphics, pictures and emails and deliver products and services is absolutely key. For Kirklees to attract all businesses from SMEs to large multinationals, it has to deliver good internet connections.”

The CORE network is now about 80% built. “Even now, we are in a position where we can start connecting businesses,” says Faruk.

Abzorb has certainly made progress over the years. There are 105 companies in West Yorkshire offering internet services and Abzorb is one of the top 5 providers behind the likes of Virgin Media, BT and TalkTalk. It is also part of the government’s voucher scheme supporting businesses with installation costs.

Faruk is clearly enthused by the CORE project and the benefits it will bring to local firms – but he doesn’t view technology through rose-tinted glasses. For a start, he’s dead against sending pointless emails and the “narcissism of selfies” leaves him cold. “We are in an industry where technology changes fast,” he says. “When I started, the phones were as big as bricks. Then the phones got smaller, now they’re bigger again. Phones are now portable computers and it’s a bit scary. I don’t think it’s all positive. We live in a society where instead of people chatting to each other they’re glued to their handsets. Society is excelling in many ways, but we are becoming far more introverted.”

The term “information overload” seems over-used, but Faruk says: “There is so much data it is difficult for humans to cope with it all. And why should we? Is our thirst for knowledge so great we need to know everything?” Says Faruk: “The real question is how we can use technology to become more efficient? How can we use it to ‘work better?’ The potential for technology to help in areas such as remote diagnosis of patients by GPs is one such positive”, he says.

“The internet is simply a motorway,” says Faruk. “The question is how fast do you want to go on this motorway and what are the consequences of going so fast? And who gets left behind?”

Faruk also makes sure he doesn’t lose the personal touch. “When I was at Avocet, the car was just to get me to work and back.” he says. “I still visit clients several times a year. Even with all this technology around us, you have to have human contact. Our lives would be very dull if everything could be done electronically. Shaking someone’s hand is quite invigorating.”

Faruk, who heads a team at a company employing 60 people, is a firm believer in the saying that ‘people buy from people’. He says: “In this industry, you have to have a personality. You have to be able to engage with people and be positive, vibrant - and realistic. You have to be open with people and mean what you say when you promise to do something. If you are a positive person you can get a lot more out of life.”

It’s also important to ‘give something back’. Says Faruk: “We work very closely with the Town Foundation and its breakfast clubs. All employees volunteer to help serve breakfast to the kids at Dalton Junior and Infant School every Tuesday morning.” Dishing up the cornflakes before morning lessons begin is no problem for an early riser!

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