Business with a conscience
by Askar Sheibani, July 20
Being a business with a conscience involves considerably more than just knowing the difference between right and wrong. Companies must be an active, responsible and accountable part of their local and wider community – a principle that’s remained at the heart of Comtek’s business operations since day one.
Whether that involves tackling issues such as growing e-waste, getting involved in government initiatives such as the creation of enterprise zones or helping local communities to succeed through entrepreneurial programmes, creating a business with a conscience is not only critical to the company’s bottom line – it’s the vital ingredient to sustaining the UK’s economic recovery.
Tackle the issues
When setting up Comtek more than 25 years ago, the aim was to breathe new life into telecoms equipment through repair. Equipment repaired by Comtek has remained operational for more than four times the manufacturers stated lifespan, thereby saving money for businesses and benefiting the environment.
The alternative is that discarded equipment ends up in landfill, or it’s illegally dumped in developing countries where toxic chemicals leak out of the products and put people’s lives at risk.
Built on the premise of reviving old technology, Comtek’s conscience has now moved towards helping businesses avoid having to unnecessarily tear out perfectly good network infrastructures. For example, following the demise of telecoms firms such as Nortel and Sorrento Networks, businesses relying on these manufacturers’ equipment no longer had access to support and spare parts for their networks and feared they would have to completely replace their network infrastructure.
Comtek decided to continue manufacturing and providing support for those products, enabling their continued use. This not only saved businesses the cost of replacing their equipment but also stopped the equipment from going into landfill. Comtek is now recognised for prolonging the life-cycle of products, which saves companies money, reduces waste and shows how commercial success can also provide benefits to the local community and the environment.
Invest in the community
A strong and thriving community is good for business. For that reason, community investment should be engrained within every company’s conscience. Comtek is leading by example, as it’s been involved in a number of government initiatives over the years.
Most notably, Comtek successfully campaigned for Wales to achieve its esteemed Enterprise Zone status to support business growth. The Deeside Enterprise Zone is now well-known for its advanced manufacturing and technology expertise, and the likes of Airbus and Toyota have set up bases in the area, leading it to prosper.
Businesses must ensure that the momentum in investment is not lost. Comtek is currently championing a campaign to improve broadband connectivity at Deeside Industrial Park (located within the enterprise zone), where poor connectivity and slow speeds are affecting business within the area. This conscious effort to improve facilities within the local area will attract new business and encourage further investment in the area.
Equally important as investing in the business infrastructure is investing in the people living within those communities. Businesses and the government should be collectively responsible for creating the leaders of tomorrow, and this can only be achieved by uniting on entrepreneurial initiatives.
Having started Comtek in my garden shed, and knowing the challenges entrepreneurs are faced with when setting up a business, I’m committed to helping young people in the local area. The Dragons’ Den style events in Flintshire and Wrexham, which have been immensely successful, show the value of dedicating time, support and guidance to new entrepreneurs who are looking to set up their own businesses.
I am fully behind all initiatives to boost business activity in the Welsh community and invest in the people who will eventually run our future employment providers. This will ultimately close the skills gap and lead the way to sustaining, or perhaps creating greater, economic success throughout the whole of the UK.
Askar Sheibani is the CEO of the Comtek Group. He founded the telecoms repair and support company in 1989. Comtek has since grown from strength to strength, opening offices in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Deeside and Belfast.