Delivering Excellence in Building Technology
Sir, what influenced your choice of career?
I attended Methodist College, Uzuakoli and back in the days, we had a lot of intelligent guys in that school. The competition was very staid and nobody wanted to be associated with the arts. The intelligent ones ended up doing the sciences, though most people did not know where it will lead them, but I had to research further and I discovered it will lead me to engineering. One other factor that influenced my career choice was that as a young man, I was always fascinated by infrastructural development, so, Civil Engineering became a natural career choice. Today, I’ve found fulfilment in the profession having achieved a lot while working with Bouygues Nigeria Limited and Galcon Engineering Limited.
What has been your biggest challenge and how were you able to surmount it?
The first thing that hits you as an entrepreneur in this part of the world is dearth of funds to drive your vision. If you don’t have fund, you may never achieve anything, but thank God the will and passion was there when we started. Somehow, I discovered that when there is a will, there’s always a way. The other challenge is that of acceptance on the part of Nigerians. You’ll agree with me that Nigerians believe so much in foreign companies, not knowing that Nigerian Engineers can deliver and even surpass their expectations. My stint at Bouygues Nigeria Limited, a multi national company really exposed me to international best practices. Apart from that, we had very fantastic Nigeria consultants who worked for Bouygues and they saw what some of us could do. Those consultants believed in me and they gave me the opportunity and thank God I did not disappoint them.
What have been your outstanding achievements in the industry?
By combining civil, structural and management skills with our project teams we have been able to successfully complete outstanding projects such as the 7-storey Coscharis Plaza located at Adeola Odeku Victoria Island, Lagos, 18-number housing units at NICON Estate, Lekki, Lagos and 5-storey building for Hardley Suites located at Plot 46, Waziri Ibrahim Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, Globe Motors in Akin Adesola Street, Bristow Helicopters Hanger and Apron in Port Harcourt and Caverton Helicopters Hanger etc. just to mention a few. In the cause of executing our projects we offer advice to clients on detailed cost analysis and projected programme schedules. In this respect Galcon Engineering Nig. Ltd. has been able to advise clients on considerations such as refurbishment and upgrading of existing facilities as well as new developments. Galcon Engineering Nig. Ltd. has the capability, resources in terms of personnel, equipment and experience to provide high quality engineering and project management services. These services are supported by our research library and in-house computer facilities.
What is your assessment of the industry in terms of service delivery?
Today, we have a lot of firms parading as construction companies but very few of them have the wherewithal to deliver on good quality job. The truth is that the industry lacks competent workforce in the areas of artisans and craftsmen. This is what I’ve come to realize unlike what was obtainable before. Young men are shying away from learning trade but I remember that as young men, we use to go to craft centre at Umuahia to learn bricklaying, carpentry and mason work. The few that have this skill could not find people to train. What has helped us is that we go out of our way to train our people and this has helped us whereas we don’t experience high turnover of staff. We’ve been thinking of how to bridge this gap and some of us are thinking of opening technical schools. I urge government at the local and state levels to re-introduce these craft centres in their locality. We lack good work men at that level except for a few that are eager to lean. For example three of my supervisors come in as labourers but today they can be able to supervise a building, but before they could get there, I taught them the skills. Some of us are ready to offer ourselves to teach young people at no cost.
What can government do differently to help the industry?
Nigeria needs serious overhauling; we cannot achieve anything if corruption is not eradicated from our system. Corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of our national life, until corruption is eradicated, we cannot make headway. The absence of corruption will bring up competent and qualified people that will be involved in National development. I think our economy is ripe to have a construction bank to help in infrastructural development at zero or one digit interest rate. I strongly recommend that we start credit rating in the country as this is the area most of these multi national companies are doing far better than us. They don’t go through stress in accessing funds with little or no interest provided their credit rating in good. We have to change the system and the government have a role to play in all of these.
On the focus and projections for the organization:
In the next five years, all things being equal and by the grace of God, I should be retiring in the next five years. I expect the same steady growth that will even surpass what we have done. I’m a visioning leader and I also call myself a clock builder. By that, I mean building an organization that will outlive me. We are steadily making our presence felt in the industry with growing number of projects of significant value across the country. We intend to consistently build and consolidate on the successes we’ve made over the years and our growth has been influenced by our operations across various segments within the industry. With an aggressive management, the growth pattern of Galcon Engineering Nigeria Limited is set to be unprecedented in the next couple of years and we’ll continue to expand our operations globally.
On the critical factors for business success:
I agree with the notion that people should build a business around what they naturally love to do. In other words, they should build business around their passion. You must love what you do in other to succeed. Knowledge and passion are critical for success. Passion begets commitment and handwork. It is also important to note that integrity is critical for business success. When you combine these virtues, success is inevitable. The challenge is that young people are no longer interested in working hard as they want to run before walking. We must change our mindset. Our values have to be rediscovered for us to succeed as a nation. Our values have been eroded over the years by insincerity, greed and avarice. If people cannot trust you and your offering, you’ll be nowhere near success.
How do you get in touch with everybody at all levels in the organisation?
We have built structures in this organization, if I’m to retire today; it’s not going to affect the operation of Galcon in any way. Apart from that, I operate an open door policy. When I visit sites, I engage my people and we work as a team. Everywhere I’ve worked, my doors are always open; anybody can walk in and we reason together to bring out the best for the organisation. I listen to what my colleagues are saying. I also need to tell you that all our operations are carried out at all times in such a way as to ensure that the health, safety, environment and security of all employees and all persons likely to be affected by its operations including subcontractors, clients and the general public are safeguarded and that the same dedication will be shown to the protection and conservation of the environment.
What drives you?
The love I have for the job drives me. The smell of concrete gives me joy. When I travel, I visit construction sites because of my love for the industry. In this industry, you must be above board and have the fear of God. When you have the desire to change the life of others positively, you’ll get inspiration. I am a highly disciplined person. I find time to do everything I do faithfully. A good management of time is what one needs to be able to cope with the challenges. I also engage in community service,
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