Often, businesses can be lulled into a period of stasis; after a few years of success, it’s the business equivalent of a long Sunday nap after a gruelling work week. Ali Asger Gulamhusein, founder of Adam Investments, recognized there were many underperforming companies in Sri Lanka with potential for growth.
“We created Adam Investments as a vehicle to acquire companies that we could grow with our knowledge base. We found that a lot of companies get complacent after a little while. They are profitable, good, strong companies, but they don’t want to venture a little bit further,” explains Gulamhusein.
“I want to start manufacturing more Sri Lankan origin products.”
In November 2014, Adam Investments acquired an activated carbon factory through a hostile takeover in the stock market. Activated carbon is like coconut charcoal and is produced from coconut shells. Although the firm had a court order to support its new investment, it was a year before they were able to begin operations. When Gulamhusein and his team eventually walked into the activated carbon factory, they discovered it was dilapidated and overgrown with weeds. They persevered.
The relationship the new owners built with the employees of the factory smoothened the transition. During the year it took for the legal dust to settle, they remained in close contact with the factory’s 80 workers, taking care of them and assuring them the firm was onboard for the long-haul. The factory’s transformation and rebranding to Adam Carbons was an all-hands-on-deck process undertaken with all its employees.
This mutual learning journey resulted in several improvements. Adam Carbons lowered its carbon footprint thanks to it generating electricity by recycling energy from the manufacturing process. A key selling point for the product, explains Gulamhusein, is that Sri Lankan coconut shell is genetically thicker than other coconut producers, resulting in a higher quality of carbon that is in demand in global markets.
For Gulamhusein, Adam Carbons’ journey has prompted a renewed keenness to explore more manufacturing options in Sri Lanka while also creating robust Sri Lankan brands in international markets. “I want to start manufacturing more Sri Lankan origin products. Having grown up in Sri Lanka, it’s easy for us to see that there are a lot of things that Sri Lanka can do better or manufacture on their own. And that is what I want to start improving and doing in the future; convert more and more products to Sri Lankan origin,” reflects Gulamhusein.