Turning failure into success
Omar Anglin’s inquisitive eyes opened doors to phenomenal achievement
Omar Anglin swears that if his eyes did not stray to the computer screen of the Wexford Court Hotel general manager who was about to interview him for a job to wash pots in the hotel’s kitchen, he may have been condemned to a short life expectancy...
Omar Anglin swears that if his eyes did not stray to the computer screen of the Wexford Court Hotel general manager who was about to interview him for a job to wash pots in the hotel’s kitchen, he may have been condemned to a short life expectancy or imprisonment like many others his age from the community of Flankers in St James.
During the interview, by chance he observed on the computer screen that there was some difficulty reconciling computation for a budget using a particular formula. Sensing the difficulty, he asked if he could look and try to help.
But what assistance could a prospective scullion offer to a hotel’s budget?
With Anglin’s information technology training, he immediately applied a specific formula he had developed and solved the problem.
That was the turning point for the young man, as he was moved up on the spot from a prospective pot and plate washer to the hotel’s accounting department, as, check this, assistant cost controller.
Anglin had no idea who or what a cost controller was but it was the springboard to an accounting career. He was promoted from cost controller to purchasing manager then to assistant accountant in a short space of a few years. But always wanting to be self-employed, he built a payroll software from knowledge gained from YouTube and Google, eventually amassing a clientele of about 17 in a short period in Montego Bay.
Developing a payroll system was not the only programme the young and gifted Anglin learnt from the Web. He also taught himself coding – the process of writing computer programmes – after which he built “process improvement tools that are used in business”.
THE PATH TO PROGRESS
A young Anglin went to Chetwood Primary School and William Knibb High School then on to pre-University of the West Indies western campus where he studied information and communication. He then went to Northern Caribbean University (NCU) part-time, but did not complete the programme, as he dropped out to start a business.
“Prior to going to NCU I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, because I went there to do business administration as an accounting major. That was because I was placed within the accounting department in my first job,” Anglin shared with The Sunday Gleaner.
“The concept I had for a personal business was to fuse accounting and technology to improve processes. That’s how I started out in business.”
It was during his stint at the hotel that he met Demetria, who was also seeking employment. Now at the “ripe old age of 31 years”, he said she is the woman of his dreams. She has borne him two sons – eight-year-old Nathan and one-year-old Jackson.
But the road to building his dream house and owning three of his dream cars was rocky and at one time there was no road, as everything crashed.
But not his spirits.
Anglin proudly stated that he is now the founder and chief executive of Anglin Global Affiliates – a company that provides turnkey call centre facilities, campaign management and operational support to entities outsourcing to Jamaica.
On Wednesday when he sat down for The Sunday Gleaner interview, the soft-spoken Anglin could easily be mistaken for a call centre worker fully employed or in training.
No fanfare, no fuss.
“Growing up, I did not want to put Flankers on my resume as my community because I know it would work against me. And that is one of the reasons why I decided that I would choose a different path and change the narrative around the community,” Anglin shared as we sat down in the afternoon at one of the turnkey properties on Oxford Terrace in St Andrew.
For the first 24 years of his life, he was raised in Flankers, long enough to be influenced by the seemingly in-built negatives, but he was determined to be different.
“I made a deliberate effort to show elders and youngsters that good things can come out of the community. And I am not the only individual doing well from Flankers. It has produced some talented people, musicians, entrepreneurs, but we focus too much on the negatives. Now I can proudly say I am from Flankers,” Anglin beamed.
The young man considered himself lucky having both parents in the community and extended family within short distance of each other. He singled out his mother’s Christian principles and his father’s entrepreneurial efforts as stepping stones to his success.
“I always asked myself what can I sell to make money, even before I started working. I knew I wanted to sell something. So I started out with a few cell phones,” he said, purchased with the assistance of funds from family and friends.
His first encounter with failure sent him crashing after he decided to venture into the call centre business on his own, using funds from friends, his savings and with a cadre of persons he encouraged to leave their jobs and work with him. The audacity of youth caused him to believe that his brief stint in call centre operations was enough to own and operate one. He was very wrong.
“The feeling was out of this world. At one point I had up to 60 employees working for me and I had my own office. I was committed to success, the talk of the town, at 24 years old. I failed miserably. In four months everything crashed. I had no clue what to do,” said Anglin.
“The broker is the individual who gets the clients for the call centres, representing us in Jamaica. They get the business overseas. Our broker paid us the first time, second time they paid half, and the third and fourth time they did not pay. Basically they robbed us. The broker went offline while I was incurring liabilities. I had a payroll, etc, and with no financial backup, the company went under.”
Months before the company crashed his son Nathan was born, and what should have been the beginning of joy was tinged with pain.
Anglin went to Florida to “cool out and cry”. The experience of being robbed, however, was the genesis of a new business model, and not one to miss an opportunity, Anglin began to dream again.
“I could not even afford to buy baby feed, a case of diapers for my son. I had to buy like little at a time. All of that was playing on me, and I decided to start over again,” he said.
RISE FROM THE ASHES
Anglin came back to Jamaica, liquidated his assets, sold the computers and partitions, and made a profit selling for more than the initial purchase price. It was that moment that he decided to sell to call centres and not operate one. He regards himself as a natural salesman.
Clients were now asking for more of what he was selling, and he was able to clear a $4-million debt in a year after selling all the call centre accessories.
In 2015, Anglin returned to the USA and sourced office supplies from companies that were liquidating. He purchased them and began supplying call centres in Jamaica with furniture and accessories. But the clients wanted more than just furniture. They wanted space. So wanting to sell total solutions, the doors opened for greater entrepreneurial inroads.
“It was then that I decided that if I can get the space, I would furnish and outfit it, and charge them a premium. So at this set-up, I get the space which is the building. I now have two 272 seats here, each one paying me US$250 per month. This allows the client to get started much faster, because it is a turnkey plug-and-play solution. So they come with their agent and can start right away,” he explained.
Anglin began renting large spaces outfitted with all the required necessities, and his clients in Canada and the United Kingdom could begin operating in under two weeks. His business model also supplied the employees.
“There is nowhere else they can get that done, that fast. And it began because of my first failure. So I am grateful for the lessons learnt from that failure. We also provide support services. So if a client wants payroll assistance, we provide that also,” he disclosed.
Anglin’s one-stop shop now assists with recruiting, payroll processing, human resources service, and instructional technology, while still supplying other facilities outside of Anglin Global Affiliates.
The company is now rebranded as a turnkey real estate entity, and with more than 2,000 workers employed in call centres, he has furnished 112,000 square feet of business process outsourcing (BPO), collecting approximately $50 million in rental income monthly.
Last year Anglin Global acquired the multistorey 52,000 square feet Advantage General building on Market Street in Montego Bay for $395 million. It was the site of his first failure.
Anglin Global operates two locations in St Andrew – Oxford Terrace and Half-Way Tree Road – where it rents plug-and-play turnkey BPO offices that provide 1,000 seats. The Oxford Terrace property, which has some 13,000 square feet over three floors, was leased by Anglin Global a few months ago from property development and rental company First Rock, under a five-year agreement.
With assets in 2021 at $1.6 billion, Anglin Global Affiliates is now in talks with another bank to underwrite another acquisition in New Kingston.
On the early horizon also is Anglin Global Homes – which plans to construct affordable homes for BPO workers. Five acres of land on the north coast have already been identified and the due diligence is being done.
The man who once knocked on every bank manager’s door he knew but was turned away is now being sought by every bank he knows offering far more than the small loan he sought to pay off in 2014.
With eyes and nose instinct for business, Omar Anglin is celebrated in Black History Month.