Omar Azan

Age  43
Title  Chief Executive Officer
Company  Boss Furniture Limited

BOSS FURNITURE has grown from humble beginnings in 1990 into the largest manufacturing facility for polyurethane foam, bedding, and upholstered furniture in Jamaica.

The company has also played its part in nation building, employing more than 200 persons and engaging in community outreach. Behind the company's success is Omar Azan, a man with a passion for the development of manufacturing in Jamaica and a strong social conscience.

"Knowing the potential, especially in the manufacturing sector and just seeing a finished product coming from a bunch of raw materials, from a Jamaican labour force, this just gives me a sense of accomplishment," said Azan, who is the former president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA).

Azan originally wanted to be a doctor and actually worked for five years as a paramedic in the United States before deciding to go into business to make some money. Today, he is "honoured and humbled" to be selected as one of the 50UnderFifty. He believes the award is a reflection of the blessings from our Lord, his customers and staff members, because without these stakeholders, the company could not have grown over the past 20 years.

The constant challenges of the industry help to drive Azan, who gets an "adrenaline rush" knowing the vast potential that Jamaica and Boss Furniture have to develop in the years to come. Among these major challenges have been the instability of the Jamaican dollar, the economy, and local politics. Business people look for stability and when that exists, more people will invest, Azan said.

He believes that more Jamaicans need to invest in local manufacturing companies, which will have the double benefit of reducing imports as well as increasing employment. Initiatives like the PSOJ and The Gleaner's 50UnderFifty Awards provide local businesses with positive publicity, and "when you see a company that's doing well in Jamaica, supporting local employment and helping to raise foreign exchange, the more support it will gain from local customers," said Azan. Boss is currently expanding its foam manufacturing business by bringing in new machines. The company is also looking to produce springs, which it currently imports.