By Sananda Sahoo, special to EO and journalist for The National
With a background in computer science, Hassan Abbas Al Hazeem was apprehensive about taking over a family mattress business his father had built up over a quarter of a century. That was in 1999.
Fourteen years later and Intercoil has grown from one showroom with a single manufacturing unit to a company employing 350 people with two manufacturing units and 24 showrooms in the UAE, Arabian Gulf, Lebanon and Jordan.
This expansion was recognized at the recent Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards, with Intercoil a finalist in the Gulf Capital Business of the Year category.
It’s quite a journey for Al Hazeem, who returned from the University of Missouri four years before taking over his father’s mattress business.
At the time Al Hazeem, the youngest among his siblings, was working at a Dubai bank and studying towards a management degree in international business studies part-time from American University of Dubai.
He was also worried about the generation gap between himself and his father, who was 50 years older than him.
“I was concerned whether he would give me the freedom to apply my thinking,” he reveals. “But I was surprised, he didn’t doubt my abilities.”
At that time (1999) his father Abbas Ali Al Hazeem, who passed away two years later, was the chairman of a group of companies headquartered in Kuwait. He was looking at the Dubai-based mattress business from a macro perspective, depending on his son to take a more hands-on approach to the enterprise.
Like other local family businesses, Hassan took over the reins of the company and expanded it. Today Intercoil exports to 17 countries in the Middle East and East Africa. Mr Al Hazeem says international exposure played a major role in shaping his perspective, as he could see where Dubai was heading when he first returned home from his studies.
While the businessman says he did not face resistance from his father to his ideas, other family business leaders often face that scenario.