Hamed El-Abd: A New Beginning, Part 2

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Matties: You've really been in a great position in your career. You have witnessed so much and helped so many people, and that's one of the things that I really noticed about WKK. There are other distributors here, but if you walk into WKK, Hamed is there to greet you, and there was just this connection for the foreigners that I think they felt like they had a great competitive advantage by having you, and WKK, in their corner.

El-Abd: Well, our philosophy and our strategy is to always take good care of our customers and our suppliers, and the people related to them. That's very important. That's the key to the success of your business. Look, there's a lot of people out there, distributors, that change every few years, change, change, change. You've been here a long time. All of my people are the same people. They don't change. We don't change management. Our salespeople stay with us. It's all about our attitude, and it's all about how to take care of people. You take care of people, people will help take care of you.

And don't mistreat people. Treat people with respect. I get very angry if I ever see anyone being disrespected here. The Chinese will remember that. Rule number one, do not disrespect the Chinese and do not let them lose face. That's lesson number one. We don't seem to understand that lesson sometimes in the West, and I don't understand why.

Matties: I agree. So, as you're very close your retirement now, I'm sure you have thoughts and reflections in your mind.

El-Abd: It's been a great ride. It's been a great industry. We've had our ups and down, but it's a great industry. I've been very thankful that I've had and made so many good friends. I was mentioning that to someone yesterday. You've met these people, and they've been your friends for 20, 30 years. It's not as if you meet a guy and then you never see him again.

These are friends that we've had, our customers that we've known for years, and so it's been a great feeling, and the interesting thing is it doesn't go away. Even though I may retire and move away, you still have those relationships. You still have those friendships with the customers and the suppliers, and it will stay in them, so I'm very fortunate.

Matties: What's your retirement look like for you?

El-Abd: Very busy. I'll be moving to Phuket [Island, Thailand] September 1, and I have a bunch of things that I've already planned to do. A five-minute walk from my home in Phuket is an elementary school and orphanage, so I'm going to teach English to the kids from seven to 12 years old. I think that's a way of sometimes giving back to the local society. I'm going to teach a business class at the university, and I am going to be doing some consulting work. There's a lot of people that want me to do consulting work, but I said that's too much work, so I am going to wait and decide how much work I want to do, and then decide.

So I will continue to be involved. I might write from time to time, about what I don’t know. I'm really the sales and marketing guy much more than the technical guy, but at least I can identify, having started from the very beginning, what looks good, what's going to move forward, what looks like a winning technology. Because there's a lot of technologies out there, but some of it just doesn't take off. Some of it's not really accepted.

Matties: Well, we've appreciated all your support, and we wish you nothing but the best.

El-Abd: Thank you.


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