The Land of Elites: Hejazi

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Fakhreddin Hejazi is a 30 years old man living in Yazd, a city located in the southeast of Isfahan, Iran. He was born and bred in a traditional family. Fakhreddin finished his primary and secondary schools in his birthplace, Ardakan. He later obtained his Bachelor’s degree from Yazd University. Since his childhood, he was curious and ambitious. Unlike his father, he is had a very dynamic personality and never satisfied with the current situation. But above all, he was very interested in electronics. He wanted to do something new, something practical. Energy crisis made him think about a way to save energy as much as possible. It was then when he found out the importance of LED bulbs; something new never done in Iran before. But it was easier said than done. It demanded a great deal of knowledge, technology and of course money. But how this young rural man managed to win the fifth place in the production of LED bulbs is a fascinating story. Now his factory is the sole LED bulb production line with high quality in the whole Middle East.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

Narration: Yazd is located in the south east of Isfahan in Iran. It is the first brick walled city, with 3 Thousand years of history and internationally known for its unique architecture. The word Yazd literally means pure and holy. So, it is the holy land and the city of God. With its most beautiful brick buildings, Yazd is one of the most important tourist sites in the world. Its main difference with other tourist centers of Iran, like Esfahan and Shiraz, is that almost the whole area is a museum by itself. Life continues for thousands of years in this city. A large number of the big old buildings have now been turned into hotels where visitors can stay helping them experience a journey to the ancient past. Tourists can witness the atmosphere of life 2 or 3 centuries back in the history.

The architectural textures of many desert cities of Iran look alike. Ardakan is located 60 Km north of Yazd, where the subject of this part of our series was born. His father and grandfathers were also born and grown up in these same alleyways.

SOUNDBITE [Persian]Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: “I am Fakhreddin Hejazi.Born here in Ardakan. I am thirty years old now. My father is a retired teacher. I have a BA in accountancy from Yazd University. At present I am passing my master degree in Executive Management. I also studied Chinese for a term in Shenzhen University in China.”

Narration: Fakhreddin belongs to a traditional family. His father Mohammad was a teacher who worked as a gardener and farmer to earn extra money to support his family. He finished his primary and secondary schools in his birthplace, Ardakan. He later obtained his bachelor’s degree from Yazd University. How this young rural man managed to win the fifth place in the production of LED lamp for Iran is a fascinating story.

Fakhreddin has four brothers. He is the third child. His mother admits that he was different from others since childhood. He had a very curious nature.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: “As far as I remember I have always been an explorer. I always wanted to discover something. Constantly asking how does this work. How does this bulb produce light? What happens that it gives out light? I never forget the time when I was a child and my uncle brought me a watch as a souvenir. As soon as he gave it to me, I took it to another room and pulled it to pieces to see what is inside it, never managing to re-assemble it again. I’ll never forget that when my father saw me, he said:” you should have at least worn it for a minute before pulling it to pieces!””

Narration: Apart from curiosity, he was ambitious from the very beginning. In contrary to his father’s peaceful and calm character, he was very dynamic and never satisfies with the situation. He never wasted time and energy on trivial things.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: “We all have great aspirations. They are all in our minds. We think about what we like to do in the future. When wishes are fulfilled they are replaced by greater aspirations. It is not possible to say now that we have reached this place, that’s it.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: This has always been one of my prominent characteristics. Everybody like my mother always reminded me of that. I never played with those of my own age. I always made friends with older people. I am still the same.”

Narration: Fakhr-al-Din believes that he has inherited this feature as well as courage from his mother. He never feared anything. If convinced that he should do something, he would not hesitate. This type of fearlessness is a common feature of desert people, but Fakhrredin’s adventurism was distinct among them.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: I did not have much fear, worrying about, for example what if something terrible happens. Of course I never went after anything bad. I never worried that if I dismantle a watch for example, it might not work anymore. I had a great passion for electronics.”

Narration: Accounting was Fakhreddin’s field of study at the university quite in disharmony with his personal interests. He was after something different and while studying, he was constantly searching in the bazaar to find out what may be the future needs of the people.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: “I was always after doing something new. Something that nobody had done it before. In those days there was this constant debate that energy production will soon face a great obstacle and its production will be more expensive in four or five years. Then I realized that LED bulbs are really in need and it was something new. Something that was never done in Iran.”

Narration: LED bulb is the most expensive electric light lamp with low power consumption in the world, which requires a complicated technology for its production. Fakhr-al-Din decided to pave the way for the production of this particular item. He made up his mind during his military service and used every opportunity to earn and save money to begin his project after this period. He did not have much knowledge about LED bulbs. He only knew that nobody is planning to produce it in Iran.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: “I almost knew nothing about LED. All that I knew was limited to some internet search and a sparse amount of library search, while the whole process of its production was the question; The question of how to put a whole factory into operation was another question. I was constantly asking friends and relatives about how factories function and what the various stages are. When should it be registered? When should one attempt to obtain the permission? When should one ask for loans? What should be done to start a company?”

Narration: With his petty saving he bought a piece of land in the industrial town of Ardakan. He first fenced his land and built a small structure in it, which is now the factory guard’s residence. At the same time he continued his research, realizing that he needed to import the raw materials from China and assemble them in a small plant. If the initial capital required were ten, he only had one tenth. Yet, this was no obstacle to him.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: “I needed around six to seven hundred million tomans. I had 50, 40 … 30 … millions. I don’t remember how much it exactly was. There was a great difference between what I had and what was needed. True that the figure had one additional zero but it made a great difference. Yet, my gut feeling told me that I should proceed. I always thought about what to do if I face an obstacle here or there. If I see that I don’t have enough money, I thought of asking for loans under the name of ten other people. I knew what I had to do and tried to carry out what was needed simultaneously. I wasn’t going to have the factory built first and then start other necessary works. Instead, I tried to proceed in a balanced way.”

Narration: He still did not know much about LED. The only thing he did realize was that the demand for low energy consumption lamps will increase in the future. He did not want to remain a simple importer of these bulbs. He wanted to at least manufacture part of the product small plant.

TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: “I designed a circuit to transform 220 volts to 3 volts. I also designed a board with several LED bulbs arranged on it. That was only for decorative uses.

In those days LED bulbs were seldom used as a light source. They had only decorative uses. With the help of Internet search I designed something and later found a Chinese company producing things like that. It produced similar decorative bulbs.”

Narration: How he managed to contact Chinese factories and make orders for their products is a long story. The same is true about his venture to convince local authorities here to grant him the required bank facility. He certainly had chosen a very difficult path, but he followed it with audacity and perseverance until he finally managed to import raw materials for the production of 10,000 decorative LED bulbs.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: “As soon as I received the raw material I employed ten people. It was interesting that I registered a company under the name of Behvar in 9/17/2007 and began the work two days later by employing those ten people to assemble the bulbs. They were not specialists. I invited one of my friends who repaired electronic devices such as radio, television, and tape-recorders. I asked him if he knew how to weld. He replied: “this is in fact my job!” I asked him to come and teach it to those ten people and immediately bought ten welders. Our first office was located in Yazd Science and Technology Park. I remember that when my friend came to teach them, we did not have a place to put the hot welders on. We found ten bricks and put them on the table in order not to burn the table with the soldering iron. That’s how we really began the work. In other words, it was not like that everything was ready from the beginning. We began exactly as I told you, like having bricks instead of a special table for soldering, etc.”

Narration: The result of his endeavor was the production of about 10,000 bulbs with decorative use. The profit was 100 percent. He immediately made a second order in greater volume and with better quality. He also tried to expand his production up to ten percent. Thus he made a large factory shed with a relatively specialized production line replacing his initial small plant.

The horizon of this young man’s aspirations however, extended much further than what had already been actualized. He had found a greater knowledge of LED and its by-products. He knew that the main core of these bulbs is a small part called diode produced by a very complex technology with only four companies having its exclusive rights of production. Fakhreddin aspired to turn his small factory into the fifth largest diode production plant in the world. He first went to see native specialists in the field. When he went to the college of Electrical Engineering to examine the amount of energy consumption of one of his products, the attitude shown by one of the professors of the college made him more determined for his ambition.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: “When I went to Tehran University to test my device, I told the person in charge that I want to bring the necessary technology for producing diode inside the country. He said that diode production is exclusively in the hands of four companies in the world and it is almost impossible to produce it in Iran. Then he asked me whether I had seen a diode production line with my own eyes? “No, I haven’t seen anything like that”, I replied. He said “go and try to ask them to show it to you. I doubt that they will allow you to see that, let alone produce it here in Iran.” He then said “I can swear that even those who teach electronics in the universities have never seen a diode production line with their own eyes, and now you are saying that you want to produce it inside the country!”

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: “His words made me even more determined to actually do it. His approach solidified my will. Then I went to China to the same company where I had bought the diodes. I told them I wanted to buy more diodes. They asked “How many? How will you pay? When should they be delivered? How do you want them to be delivered? Your bank account number, proforma invoice, etc.” This time I proposed a figure much higher than before. For example if I had bought diodes worth one million tomans before, I don’t remember the exact figure, but that time I proposed a much higher figure. They were so happy. Then I asked them if they produce them themselves? Yes, they replied. “Then I want to see your production line,” I said. “No, no, that is impossible,” they said. I told them, “So, you are not producers, but dealers.” They replied, “They are produced upstairs.” “So, let’s go and see it,” I said. “We can just show you some of the testing devices.” and I agreed. After showing me several instruments, I told them, “You are testing produced diodes here. I’d like to see your production line.” I didn’t really know anything in this regard, but was only insisting and when they refused, I said, “Then goodbye. I am not going to purchase them from you.” They sent after their manager to convince me that they were produced there and they were not mere dealers.”

In turn I insisted that “you are not producers and if you are, why don’t you show it to me? I can’t eat your instruments. I just want to make sure that you produce them yourself.” The manager then went to ask for permission. It was here that he made his greatest mistake.”

Narration: Less than six months after this event, Fakhreddin managed to set up the diode production line. It still remains a secret how he succeeded to buy the exclusive advanced diode technology from the Chinese. It is enough to know that the risk was so high that if he had failed he would have lost all his assets. Finding himself still unsatisfied, he soon realized he had a long way to achieve his ultimate goal. The scope and pace of advancement in the new technology was changing fast and on a daily basis. He had to make sure not to be left behind. When he travelled to China he found out that a new product called high power LED had found its way into the market.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: “What is power LED? A power LED uses only one watt of power, while producing as much light as seventeen to twenty lamps which we arranged on a board before. In the past, we used to assemble 22 diodes on a board in parallel series with a source to produce light. Now with the new technology, one sole diode using only one watt would produce the same amount of light. That’s why it is called power LED diode. I began to carry out a research on it. I asked to put a microscope in my office and used to look at a few power LEDs I had bought from China until midnight. I carefully removed their glues under the microscope with a pincer. I discovered that this new diode is exactly like what we were producing, but is larger in size.”

Narration: He immediately began the work, taking much higher risks. Iran was under heavy sanctions. Fakhreddin was determined to import the technology not from China this time, but from its original maker, the US. Now the quality of his products had surpassed Chinese rivals. Fakhreddin Hejazi’s LED bulb factory is now the sole LED bulb production with higher standards in the entire Middle East.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: “SMD LED emerged after power LED. Its advantage is that the LEDs can be fixed on a board with a special device, while power LEDs or standard LEDs can be fixed only by hand. They should be arranged one by one with hand, which is a very time consuming process. There was a time when we could not fulfill our orders even with fifty to sixty employees.”

TIME CODE: 20:00_23:40

Narration: The import of the new technology, this time from the US into Iran, improved the rate of production e in his factory by ten times making it possible to export the surplus to the neighboring countries.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: “Yes, it is much faster, ten or even hundred or thousand times faster. You saw how that device works. In the past the workers had to pick up the diodes with a pincer one by one and fix them on the board.”

Narration: At the moment Fakhreddin owns three separate LED bulb factories in Iran with one of them in the city of Qom, near the capital. He turned 30 this year. He has great projects in his mind for the future. He is building few factories in various fields. The most important of them is a steel factory. Iran is one of the significant exporters of ironstone. Fakhr-al-Din Hejazi has already carried out the preliminary work for the construction of the plant, so that ironstone would not be exported as an unprocessed material to other countries. It is going to be a huge factory turning ironstone into steel.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: “This is a steel producing process, which we never had in Iran. It concentrates in the normal method ironstone and turns it into powder. In this way the impurities are removed and the powder is then turned into pellets. Then they are glued together again and sent to a restoration plant where they are further purified, to sixty to seventy and finally ninety percent. Then it will be melted in arch kilns and turned into billets and then into beams. However, there is a method designed by the Germans, which turns ironstone directly into lumps without going through the concentration and pelletizing stages. The lumps are then directly sent to the kiln where after being treated by coal they turn into sponge iron.”

Narration: The land has already been bought for this purpose and the construction work will soon begin.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Fakhreddin Hejazi, Elite: “About two months is over now. Hopefully, it will be ready to use in one year and four months’ time.”

   

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