Mahbubul Arefin Chowdhury Abir, DMD of AJ Group joined the company in 2018 with a vision to provide the highest quality in every regard, use quality products at the best price possible. Recently he shared his company’s insights, also his views regarding consistent company culture to Textile Today. New entrepreneurs have a great opportunity to have valued knowledge from this interview. A glimpse of the interview is given below for Textile Today readers.
Textile Today: What inspired you to join in the readymade garments (RMG) sector and how did you prepare yourself to run a big business?
Abir Chowdhury: My father has been involved in the garment business for over 40 years, from the starting days of Desh Garment. From a very young age, I knew that I would be involved in this business in some way. After my graduation, I was very glad to help out in our family business. Being able to be part of an organization that provides for the families of thousands of people is a satisfying idea. I believe that as someone who has had the privilege to have a good education and exposure as I did, we should be doing as much as we can to help this business and our economy. RMG is a dynamic and challenging industry in Bangladesh, and I believe the best way to prepare yourself is to learn from the people around you, accept that there will be mistakes and strive for improvement at each level.
Textile Today: People used to say ‘second generation is a threat to the textile and apparel business’ how do you evaluate this?
Abir Chowdhury: I think any kind of blanket statement is not entirely accurate, including this one. Many second-generation businesspeople, even in our country, did exceptionally well. Many of them did not. As much as 90% of startups, or first-generation businesses so to say, fail. So, I think this has to be evaluated at a person to person, or rather at a business to business level. Sometimes a very good new leader might not be a good fit for an existing setup and vice versa.
Textile Today: AJ Group is now quite big in size and lots of people work here. How do your employees see you when you took charge of the company, as a leader?
Abir Chowdhury: That question would be better answered by the people of the organization. People’s respect must be earned, not be taken for granted. That being said, almost every good leader in the world has been polarizing, some people see them positively and some see them negatively. From my side, I think it is important to work hard, be respectful and think strategically both short and long term. In general, people have been very accepting, cooperative and supportive of me joining the family business.
Textile Today: Many apparel factories are in big trouble due to having no order in hand, what is the order situation in your factory now?
Abir Chowdhury: The business climate in Bangladesh is challenging for any industry at this point, so that factored in, I think we did well in 2019. We have made several internal changes to cope with the rising wage structure and expenses. We have a growing workforce; we just started our new project. Hopefully, we can run a tight ship to face upcoming challenges and grow our company in the process.
Textile Today: As you are a young entrepreneur please give some suggestions for the upcoming young who are about to enter the textile and apparel industry.
Abir Chowdhury: When I started working here, someone told me that if you come to the office at 9 am every day, you will see a big difference everywhere. That to me was a piece of great advice. As an owner, you do not have to show up early, and that is why it has a great effect. This practice helps create a culture of dedication and punctuality. Good company culture is vital for any organization. So, the newcomers must develop a consistent company culture besides their passion for the garment industry to sustain and move forward the business.
Textile Today: What is your future plan and how you want to contribute more to the sector?
Abir Chowdhury: I grew up meeting several first and second generation of entrepreneurs who have truly wonderful stories of success. They inspire me to wake up every morning and show up to work. We have started our new project this year in hopes of tapping into the value-added outerwear market. We have plans for further expansion in the future, which has to happen progressively. So, the plan now is to build a solid foundation for growth. The goal for AJ Group is to be one of the leading exporters in Bangladesh.