In its Annual Report the company said it was prepared to share capacity with other telecom operators. Minister Fernando expressed displeasure over the current operations of State-controlled SLT and warned that the Government could introduce a separate semi-government organisation to compete with it if the situation failed to improve. Due to the monopoly, several important steps have been delayed.
My father began his business life working for my grandfather who hailed from Matara. My grandfather had his roots in the automotive business and was one of the pioneers who set up a spare parts trading establishment at Panchikawatte, in Colombo.
Prior to dealing in spare parts, my grandfather would purchase oranges from the Bibile township and transport these to Colombo. His truck would often suffer breakdowns, and because of a lack of spare parts in the town of Matara, my grandfather soon established a booming spare parts enterprise in the town.
He also got his friends and relatives involved in his business activities, and before long, a string of shops along the south coast up to Matara was operating under his auspices.
To quench the thirst of his network, my grandfather also began importing spare parts directly from Europe. Following the demise of my grandfather, my father took over the helm and faced an increasingly competitive market when it came to automotive spare parts.
The Phillips factories soon shifted from Holland to China and the products began to have many issues especially relating to quality. It began with a small assembly line and then the company evolved over time.
I studied industrial engineering in the USA and upon my return worked under my father in the manufacturing section, a passion of mine. At that time, we were doing very little manufacturing with only assembly work taking place. Thus, since my passion was manufacturing, I wanted to begin downstream manufacturing.
But unfortunately, three months after I joined the company inI faced up to the passing away of my father. Following his demise, I took over the com-pany having just graduated from university.
This was a big challenge for me as I was not prepared to be entrusted with this form of responsibility. I have always been involved with the manufacturing element of this business but never the business side. I was 22, and with little or no managerial experience, there was a lot of pressure coming from a number of stakeholders who were concerned with the company on the brink of collapse.
This was mainly an assembly operation with some basic moulding as well. Crisis hit us once again when Clipsal Global decided to sell their business concerns to Schneider of France, a decision taken almost overnight.
At this juncture in time, we had two choices, either sell to Schneider like the majority of others were doing, or go it on our own and create a powerful local brand. An element we had to our advantage was that, unlike many other Clipsal subsidiaries overseas, we had a majority shareholding in Sri Lanka, thus we were not legally obliged to sell overnight and not subject ourselves to a hostile takeover.
By this time, I had decided that we should go it alone and create a brand that would retain the market share that was held previously by Clipsal and challenge the whole market in general.
To change a brand that was established in the market for over 20 years overnight was a huge task. We decided to re-brand because we knew that, if Clipsal was bought out, it would mean that no Sri Lankan electrical brand would ever stand to make a global presence.
Apart from tea, we are not known for our engineering and manufacturing capabilities, and thus, we saw this as an ideal opportunity to place Sri Lanka on the map. We felt that if we were to sell, we would be betraying the country. With the support of our dealers, electricians, the general public, and other stake-holders, Orange - a local brand, became an overnight success.
Within a month of trading we had managed to capture the original market share that was held by Clipsal, pre-re-branding. With a background in Industrial Engineering, how did you manage the day-to-day ad-ministrative functions of running Orange, especially after you were thrust to the fore following the demise of your father?
When I first joined the company we could not see into the future. Initially we could only see one or two days ahead. So I shared with everyone my thoughts: Because a day was too far for us to see, so we must do the best we can for that single day and take it from there.
With this approach in our minds, after a month or so we began to be able to see more into the future. Following six months, we had gained confidence within ourselves and we could easily foresee up to a year ahead.
The brand kept growing with our dealers and the consumer as well and all this was possible because we took one day at a time. I was placed in the deep end and I had to sink or swim. We had a very open and trust-worthy culture and it was this trust that saw many individuals standing by me in order to achieve our goals.
The values of the company coupled with a transparent attitude ensured we always prevailed whatever the situation that was facing us. The uphill task I had to shoulder provided me with two steep learning curves, and looking back I see these as opportunities that were valuable in that these allowed me to learn, grow, and understand what it takes to survive and prosper.
How are the other Clipsal subsidiaries faring post-Schneider? I guess they are all doing well, as they have all capitalised, just like us, on the market share that was held by Clipsal.
Your local manufacturing operations?Jul 23, · Sri Lanka Super 7s from August 5 July 23, , pm. Sri Lanka Super 7s, the tournament that will replace Carlton 7’s, which was redundant since , will be played on August 5, 6, 12 and 13 at the Racecourse Complex, Colombo.
Dialog Axiata PLC ensuring development of sports has come forward to sponsor the event. UNP Parliamentarian Harin Fernando said they are not satisfied with the Budget. Harin @ Balaya with Johnston Fernando - Duration: 28 minutes Splitting UNP a plan by President to cover up.
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