Sharjah: Mohammed Ahsan Ullah was only 18 years old when he came to the UAE in 2005 from Bangladesh.
He first worked as a helper with a Dh1,000 monthly salary, then became a mechanic, and – through hard work and saving money wisely – put up his own car repair shop for luxury SUVs.
From being a helper, the Bangladeshi expat, now 34, from Chittagong (port city on the southeastern coast of Bangladesh) is a business owner in Sharjah and boss to seven mechanics and staff.
Ahsan Ullah came to the UAE with a big dream – and he is now living it. But it did not come easily. “Hard work, patience, frugality, honesty and good working relationship with customers and staff were the ingredients to my success,” he told Gulf News.
Journey to success
Fresh from finishing vocational high school, Ahsan Ullah decided to follow his brother who was already in Sharjah in 2005.
“My brother, Mozammel, was a mechanic and he got me a job as a helper at the garage where he was working,” recalled Ahsan Ullah, adding: “I helped senior mechanics perform maintenance and repairs, engine tune-up, oil changes, tyres and brakes checks, replacement of spark plugs and electrical system works such as replacing batteries, starters, and lights. I also cleaned the shop and returned tools to their proper location as well as performed other duties assigned to me.”
His starting salary was Dh1,000 but he said it was enough for his needs as he was given a free accommodation at the garage. Ahsan Ullah was able to regularly send Dh600 to his family back home in Bangladesh and the rest were for his personal expenses. But he was also disciplined in putting aside Dh200 monthly savings.
After three years, he learned more skills, was promoted and got a raise. He also acquired a driver’s licence, which allowed him to work part-time as a delivery and family driver. He said his income, including earnings from his part-time job, came to around Dh4,000 monthly.
His income went up but his lifestyle did not change. He was still enjoying the free room at the garage and he maintained his financial prudence. He spent only around Dh500 for food and other personal expenses; Dh1,000 was sent regularly to his parents, and he saved over Dh2,000 monthly.
This was his routine from 2008 to 2013 and after five years of wise-spending, his savings paid off as his bank balance has gone up to over Dh100,000.
'Time to hit the road'
It was time, he said, to hit the road and venture into his own business. So, in 2014, he partnered with his brother and set up their own shop in Sharjah Industrial Area 12, focusing on luxury SUVs, including Land Rover, Range Rover, Jeep and Mercedes-AMG.
They started with a few number of customers – expats from India, UK and Pakistan – and a handful of Emirati customers. They also developed their own loyal customers and grew the business.
In 2019, Ahsan Ullah decided to put up his solo repair shop and opened Adventurer Auto Maintenance Workshop, also in Sharjah Industrial Area 12. He developed his own clientele and also further educated himself as a mechanic. Aside from the practical skills he acquired from the garage, he enrolled himself in classes and received certifications from UK-affiliated technical institutions.
Bump in the road
But like any other businesses, Ahsan Ullah was also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. He said: “My business was halted as my company hit a bump due to the economic slowdown. But we slowly recovered early last year and picked up the pace in last quarter of 2021. Now business is booming again.”
Cruise to success
He added: “We recovered from the pandemic because we kept the faith and stayed true to our mantra – Do not cheat, be loyal to customers, and always provide good service’.”
Ahsan Ullah, married and a father of two boys aged six and two, now averages a monthly net income of over Dh40,00 and maintains a staff of seven people.
He is still frugal and maintains a lifestyle that reflects his skill set. He drives a 2008 Range Rover that he bought for only Dh15,000 in 2019 and spent Dh10,000 for repairs and parts replacement. He fixed the SUV himself and his “old car” can give newer SUVs a run for their money, he said. Ahsan Ullah is also using it to showcase his talent and what his garage can do.