AZ­MAN’S BLUE OCEAN SUC­CESS

He takes risks, and suc­ceeds in an is­land of end­less op­por­tu­ni­ties

New Straits Times - - Viewpoint -

IF you can con­vert a cow­shed into a land­mark food court and re­tail cen­tre, you must be cre­ative enough to be a game-changer. I met such a per­son in Langkawi last week.

His name is Az­man Ah­mad, a low-pro­file, lo­cal-born en­tre­pre­neur who is giv­ing this year’s Langkawi In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime and Aero­space Ex­hi­bi­tion (Lima) an added at­trac­tion.

He’s not an ex­hibitor, but his of­fer­ings pro­vide a wider di­men­sion to the in­ter­na­tional mar­itime and aero­space show.

Langkawi is an is­land of end­less op­por­tu­ni­ties. If one is pre­pared to work hard, think cre­atively and will­ing to take cal­cu­lated risks, Langkawi can be the place to achieve your dreams.

In his mid-40s, Az­man is tak­ing on chal­lenges that can pro­pel him to an­other level in the leg­endary is­land’s tourism and ser­vice in­dus­tries. If the gov­ern­ment is look­ing for a suc­cess­ful man­i­fes­ta­tion of its Blue Ocean Strat­egy, then Az­man is a good ex­am­ple.

Born into a fam­ily of en­trepreneurs, Az­man re­called his teens when he told his father that he wanted to be his own boss too, a towkay as he puts it. His father owned and op­er­ated the Sandy Beach Mo­tel in Pan­tai Ce­nang.

His father told him that there’s no way he could be a towkay with­out get­ting his hands dirty first.

So, he was made to learn the ropes by be­ing in charge of the mo­tel’s up­keep, clean­ing the ta­bles and do­ing a host of other man­ual tasks. This was his ap­pren­tice­ship un­der the guid­ance of his vi­sion­ary dad.

Sandy Beach Mo­tel has al­ways been pop­u­lar on the beach­front. In its early days, it cost just RM7 a night at the A-hut chalets. Guests used a com­mon bath­room com­pris­ing a well walled by wo­ven co­conut leaves.

The mo­tel was up­graded many years ago and Az­man is about to em­bark on an­other up­grade mea­sure very soon.

In be­tween cof­fee, he explained his busi­ness phi­los­o­phy.

“My father started the re­sort in the early 80s. He saw what was com­ing, that Langkawi would grow and be­come a tourism favourite. I took the ba­ton from him and this has been truly chal­leng­ing.

“Many of my fam­ily mem­bers — un­cles, aun­ties, cousins, in-laws — are in the hos­pi­tal­ity and ser­vice busi­ness.

“They ei­ther have their own re­sorts or restau­rants. They are all about the same size and stan­dard — about 2,600 rooms in all.

“I gave the mat­ter a lot of thought and de­cided to em­bark on my own Blue Ocean Strat­egy. I’m up­grad­ing on all fronts. Sandy Beach will be up­graded and its 230 rooms will be re­duced to 110, with fa­cil­i­ties aimed at a more dis­cern­ing clien­tele.

“I’ve also cre­ated my own brand. If you come to Langkawi, you can stay at my bou­tique re­sort called Te­laga Ter­race. I have 26 rooms, lo­cated just be­fore Mer­i­tus Pe­langi.

“I’m now build­ing Te­laga Villa, an­other bou­tique and high-end re­sort with just 12 rooms. Each villa will have its own swim­ming pool. Langkawi must move to this kind of tourist fa­cil­i­ties. It’s time. We must cre­ate the de­mand.

“I’m con­fi­dent that peo­ple will come and en­joy th­ese fa­cil­i­ties. As they say, build and they will come.”

He also owns and op­er­ates Te­laga Seafood, a restau­rant of­fer­ing five types of food— Ara­bian, Western, Ja­panese, Thai and lo­cal seafood dishes. A two­piece band playing ev­er­greens lends a re­lax­ing at­mos­phere at the restau­rant, also in Pan­tai Ce­nang.

Back to the cow­shed. His father used to rear cat­tle, about 100 of them. The cow­shed took a small por­tion of the 2.4-ha land.

The cat­tle was given away to friends and the lo­cal folk. Az­man, with his own team of in-house de­sign­ers, came up with Te­laga Walk — Langkawi’s ver­sion of an up­town, the pop­u­lar night shop­ping out­let like the ones in Da­mansara, Cheras and Se­ta­pak in Kuala Lumpur.

Te­laga Walk is lo­cated next to his Te­laga Ter­race bou­tique.

He opened a food court, giv­ing 17 young en­trepreneurs an op­por­tu­nity to en­ter the food busi­ness.

An­other 50 en­trepreneurs were of­fered re­tail out­lets to sell sou­venirs, hand­i­craft and other con­sumer items.

More than a re­tail cen­tre, Te­laga Walk is Az­man’s idea of a cam­pus for young en­trepreneurs.

“I’m a very hands-on per­son when it comes to busi­ness. I want them to do well.

“I pro­vide as­sis­tance to make sure their book­keep­ing is good, their work ethics are sound, and the qual­ity of their food and ser­vices are up to the mark,” the father of six said.

Let’s wish Az­man well in all his en­deav­ours. An­other ad­di­tion to his ar­ray of ser­vices is a cruise boat with six cab­ins for those want­ing to go is­land-hop­ping in style. The cruise boat will start op­er­at­ing dur­ing Lima.

He’s also open­ing a cir­cus in a few months. While wait­ing for the full-blown cir­cus to start, he’s bring­ing ac­ro­bats from Rus­sia, the Ukraine and China to en­ter­tain the off-Lima crowd.

ah­madt51@gmail.com aat@pahit­ma­nis The writer is the chair­man of Yayasan Salam Malaysia

In his mid-40s, Az­man is tak­ing on chal­lenges that can pro­pel him to an­other level in the leg­endary is­land’s tourism and ser­vice in­dus­tries. If the gov­ern­ment is look­ing for a suc­cess­ful man­i­fes­ta­tion of its Blue Ocean Strat­egy, then Az­man is a good ex­am­ple.

PIC BY AH­MAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR

Az­man Ah­mad and his team of in-house de­sign­ers have came up with Te­laga Walk, Langkawi’s ver­sion of an up­town, the pop­u­lar night shop­ping out­lets like the ones in Da­mansara, Cheras and Se­ta­pak in Kuala Lumpur.

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