Nigeria: The art of craftmanship in furniture-making

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Having garnered three years experience as a general manager of a furniture factory producing just wooden doors, Mr. Odun Emasealu left the company and founded Interior Woodwork Limited, a furniture-making firm in Nigeria.

Interior Woodwork Limited started at a time when Odun was not financially buoyant but his expertise in the industry paved the way for him. By virtue of his experience in the wood industry, he has played prominent roles in various projects. He is very passionate about the provision of first class service to all customers. He is also Vice Chairman of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Abuja Chapter, being as well a National Council member of M.A.N.

As the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Interior Woodwork Limited, he intends to place the company at the forefront in the furniture manufacturing industry in Nigeria.

Interior Woodwork Limited was incorporated in 1999 while Odun effectively learned the art of furniture making and with God’s backing he has been sailing through the precarious waters of doing business in Nigeria.

Business Challenges and Success

Most businesses in Nigeria whether start-off or those who have been in business for years have always had to grapple with multiple challenges. There is the issue of power generation especially for the companies in the manufacturing sector. For Interior Woodwork Ltd, the main challenge at the outset was funding.

“Initially, we went through such a tough time,” He told Business & Economy Review team. Of course, when you don’t have money you go through the tough path. I can’t go through the depth of the story but I can tell you that we started growing little by little and in year 2000, we had to move to Abuja because that is where most of our clients are from.”

Abuja is the capital of Nigeria. All Federal establishments, offices and parastatals are headquartered in Abuja. All major companies and establishments are represented in the FCT because the country is run and managed from there. This territory was formed in 1976 from parts of former Niger, Kogi and Nasarawa States in the middle belt of Nigeria. It is in the central region of the country and considered the heart of Nigeria.

“Abuja is a construction city which was very conducive for us as we had to start afresh. One thing we did was to plough back the money we made back into the business and we started to grow. We built a factory here in Abuja and got all our facilities without seeking a loan from banks until three years ago when we became too big to be a self-funding company,” he explained.

Made in Nigeria axiom

The slogan Buy Made in Nigeria products has been trumpeted by government for many years but has been an empty slogan with no proper policies to back it up. However, with the economic recession biting hard in this country due to dwindling crude oil prices and militancy in the Niger Delta, the government’s renewed campaign to buy made in Nigeria goods may at last be taken seriously since there is no money to spend on unnecessary expensive imports.

“All our products are made in Nigeria,” remarks Odun. In fact, “they are all made in Abuja. But our raw materials are sourced locally and also from outside the country. For the wood part, we get those from Nigeria. About a few weeks ago the Federal Government launched the Made-In-Nigeria promo which was held in Abuja. Ministers were here. A lot was said on that day and I also spoke on that day. In Nigeria, we need to patronize our own products. It is a way for us to benefit from ourselves. Moreover, we buy imported because we are seeing it. If we don’t see the imported products, we won’t buy them.”

The Inspiration

People change from time to time. What you set out to do in life may not be what you end up doing. It is the same with the founder of Interior Woodworks. He read Chemistry and Food Science and technology at the university but changed course when the need arose.

“Your university degree gets you ready for the world. It also sets you on the course of your profession. At any point in time, you can decide on where to go. If there are opportunities in your profession you could do very well there. If fate takes you to another direction, you should be able to cope. That’s what happened in my own case. Fate brought me to woodwork. I was able to adapt because I discovered I had a passion for this work. Think about it, many people want to make it quick. It took years of learning through education but people want to make money from business in just one year. For me, I had to learn.”

Odun can confidently say that he earned his success by getting down to learn the work. “I’m not just running a business. I’m actually a carpenter. I can design like an architect when it comes to furniture design. You need to be strong to run a business in Nigeria,” he concluded.