From single counter to £100m turnover

A MANCHESTER man who developed Nycomm, Britain’s largest distribution company of telecoms and data equipment from a counter at his father’s wholesale jewellery business, has died.

Julian Niman, 64, passed away suddenly at his home last Friday.

Mr Niman, who was born to Leila and Cyril Niman, started out sweeping up in his father’s warehouse.

He had completed his City and Guilds as a radio engineer and enjoyed his hobby in amateur radio after having worked for the Metropolitan Police as a radio engineer and Sharp as a service engineer.

Mr Niman, who lived in Whitefield, told the Jewish Telegraph in an interview eight years ago: “I didn’t mix with anyone and amateur radio was a substitute.”

It was that interest in radio that led to his father allowing him a six-foot glass counter to display the then-illegal cordless phones in his jewellery warehouse.

Mr Niman’s father had always advised him to remove suppliers’ labels from boxes before reselling to customers — and it was such an oversight by a supplier that was to lead to his big breakthrough.

In 1981, he purchased £7,000 of illegal cordless phones from Rocom in Wetherby, Yorkshire, financed by the jewellery company.

They left the suppliers’ details on the boxes and Mr Niman was able to contact their BT source directly at a time when he was still driving a van and selling Citizen’s Band radio equipment.

The opportunity for him to expand came when the jewellery company moved to the old Jews’ School building in Derby Street, Manchester, and his business began to take shape.

At first his phones and CB equipment occupied 80 sq ft, but rapidly his originally underwhelmed dad granted him 1,000 sq ft which was the base for a new limited company.

It was there that he began to repair radios.

Word quickly spread about Julian’s skills and he formed his original company, Nimans, in 1985 as his business began to flourish, reaching a £1million turnover.

While Mr Niman had been setting up a fast-growing business, it was the government deregulation of British Telecom which propelled his company to new heights of success.

The first company relocation came in 1990, when 25 staff moved to a 15,000 sq ft site at Broadway in Salford.

As the company continued to grow over the next decade, more room was required, so Mr Niman bought two adjacent buildings, creating 35,000 sq ft of office and warehouse space.

The next big milestone came in 2004 when the development of a new £6 million purpose-built home was created at Agecroft, housing a state-of-the art logistics operation and modern office space.

He told the JT: “I had no aspirations and I never had a thought about making any money. The thought still doesn’t exist.

“The concept of money has never been part of this business; the concept of creating money in a bank account. I’ve only got wealth while the business is stable.”

At the time of Mr Niman’s death, Nycomm was turning over more than £100m annually.

In 2009, Nimans bought rival distributor Rocom, the same year Julian married Susan, at the Manchester Jewish Museum.

Acquisitions of Videonations and Pennine followed.

Mr Niman’s success was even more remarkable because he had to overcome dyslexia, which teachers initially thought was deafness, as he could not always grasp what he was being taught.

“The only thing dyslexia does is make you think differently,” he recalled.

“The beauty of dyslexia is if there are too many words, you lose concentration quickly. I never read books — catalogues, yes, books, no.”

Mr Niman also suffered from epilepsy and underwent a gastric bypass operation, more commonly known as stomach stapling.

He suffered numerous illnesses, including diabetes, which disappeared with his massive loss of weight. David Bennett, a director of Pendlebury-based Nycomm, said: “His passing is a huge shock.

“We will continue to run the company as Julian would want us to and continue his legacy.”

He added: “For those who knew him, Julian was a rare breed.

“He overcame a natural shyness and dyslexia and relied on his gut instinct when making crucial business decisions.

“His passion for the industry remained as strong as ever and he was in the office virtually every day and never took his foot off the pedal, even when battling illness.

“Julian viewed all his staff as family and his spirit and mantra to ‘serve the customer’ lives on.

“He saw all of us here as his family and he would want us to carry on serving the customer and running the business in his memory.

“Many of us had known Julian for many years and we will have to support one another through this difficult time.”

Mr Niman was buried at Rainsough Cemetery, Prestwich, on Wednesday.

Wife Susan and sister Tricia Schwitzer survive him.

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