IT entrepreneur targets export market

The business world is highly dependent today on new technology and creative concepts. ABC Trade and Investments (Pvt) Ltd has been a key player in the IT industry over the past 10 years and a recognized member of the Sri Lanka Computer Vendors Association. The company was a distributor for a range of products including printer consumables, storage media, networking and other prime IT equipment.

Jayaseelan who hails from Kandy is the second child in a family of three. He had his primary education at St Thomas’ College, Bandarawela and Hatton. After completing his Advanced Level Examination he joined a private company as a Sales Representative for a salary of only Rs. 600 and gained experience.

“I had a dream to start a business of my own one day; it was in my blood,” he said. I worked for different companies for three years and established ABC Computers desk top publishing in 1991 with an investment of Rs. 25,000. The first office was at Ward Place, with only six employees, he said.

He gradually moved to Trade and Investment in 1994 selling ABC computers. The company’s main focus was computer related business networking in Sri Lanka. Print Rite computers were imported from China initially and the company was appointed as the authorized distributor for Print Rite, Veratim, Mitsuishi and Fluke Networks and dealers for HP, Canon, Epson and Sony. The company’s monthly turnover is around Rs. 10 million.

Thereafter it diversified in to locally remanufactured toners and ink cartridges branded as Renew Station for the first time increasing the workforce up to sixty people. “This is a unique concept with emphasis on protecting the environment and reducing pollution and achieving cost effective printing solutions. The printer cannot be damaged under this system of manufacturing. With the growing demand for ink cartridge recycling the company expanded the business for toner manufacturing with state-of-the-art equipment and is planning to manufacture toners to international standards.

Jayaseelan said that the company grew fast and shifted to its own building in Rajagiriya. The company expanded to different business units during this period, he said. To supply an efficient and continuous supply of office automation and printer consumables the company set up Target OfficeStore, the retail arm as a one-stop shop at customer convenient locations at Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Liberty Plaza and Unity Plaza shopping complexes and in Negombo and Kandy, he said. These outlets provided a fast, reliable, continuous feed of office equipment and supply of consumables plus solutions for networking and hardware needs. The company has another department known as Idea to provide digital imaging; instant printing, high quality photo gifts and web based marketing activities. Asked about the challenges, he faced, Jayaseelan said customers were reluctant to use reusable cartridges at the beginning but we educated them on our systems later. It saves a huge amount of foreign exchange for the country, he said.

Jayaseelan’s future plan is to improve the market and enter the Export market in the future. The concept of Re-New Station has been approved by the Central Environment Authority as a concept on reduced waste management. Therefore, the company is planning to set up outlets in several locations to expand the shop as a shop in a shop concept at leading malls and dealer outlets. Asked about the secret behind his success, he said that the support from his wife and family apart from the efficient and loyal staff helped him. I also had confidence in everything I did, he said.

The article was written and interviewed by Ramani Kangaraarachchi

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