Chief Cyril Bob rose to great heights through sheer determination and with-I-can-do-spirit as a young man.
He is a cabinet member of HRH Igwe R.N. Nwankwo, Ogene of Adazie-Ani hence his title as the ‘Adazie of Adazie-Ani.’ In a recent chat with the Sunday Sun, Okoye advised businessmen to be prudent and careful while masterminding their business to avoid recession and setback.
What was the reason for the recent gathering in your company?
It was a day we set aside to promote our company, Grape Tree International Ltd, importers and marketers of Diplomatic Toothbrush, torchlights and water purifiers. We are here to appreciate our marketers, customers and agents who did well in 2019. In every two years, we appreciate them by giving them quality gifts. This year we chose to raise our bar by giving out cars, fridges, televisions and other consolation prizes. The reason is to encourage and support them especially when a company is also growing, let the workers which include staff, marketers and agent grow along with it.
How old is Grape Tree International Ltd?
The company will be 20 years next year. We thank God for his mercies and blessings. We appreciate our little beginning and what God has done over the years. All aspects of our business have existed in the last years and still forging on. We mainly depend on toothbrush and articles like torchlight, water purifiers. For now, we import, distribute and market Diplomatic toothbrush, meanwhile we are building factories here in Nigeria where all our products would be manufactured within some years here in Nigeria.
How did this journey start in the last 20 years?
We started with little reselling, became wholesalers at some point. We also went into importation and manufacturing in foreign countries knowing that nothing good comes easily. We chose to make a difference in the areas of hard work, having patience and commitment. Work is also gradually progressing at our factory site with the infrastructural machines on ground here in Nigeria and before the year 2021, our made in Nigeria toothbrush would be on the market stand.
How has it been in the last 20 years?
We are progressing despite the various challenges in business. If we were not progressing gradually as a company, we could not be talking about a factory in sight and again, there is no way we would have gathered today to celebrate one another.
What challenges have you experienced over the years as a businessman?
In everything in life, there must be challenges. If there are no challenges, progress might be far in sight. We have experienced some unstable policies that rattled us like high taxations on import duties, duplication of our products by other companies. Other natural uncertainties one did not plan for.
What about the government policies, are they being favorable to Grape Tree International?
It is neither here nor there! I cannot say it is convenient or not because if one says it is not convenient, it means the business would pack out; then if it is convenient, it means there is no problem. There is no business without a challenge because that is what makes a business strong. We cannot back out of challenges even at home, or families; but one must put his and her best to wriggle out of any situation in life and stay in business most especially.
How did you overcome the recession that hit so many businesses?
It is about planning and strategizing. In life, nobody plans to fail; rather people fail to plan. If one relaxes because things are running smoothly as expected without planning for the future, when the unexpected happens, it might send the business packing. Other countries of the world have experienced recession and came out of it. Those who plan very well will always continue in their business while those who did not plan will fall by the wayside. There was recession and there would still be in the future one way or the other.
What did you do to beat the recession three years ago?
The recession of two-three years ago affected every business in Nigeria. I simply say wherever one finds himself, make sure you put the right things in the right places in business especially staffers. Staff must be professionals, economy must be properly managed, then plan ahead, invest into other areas. There is nothing wrong to have two or more other channels of resources.
There were two branded cars that were taken away by the marketers, what was the criterion in choosing the winner?
In the year 2019, we did what was called ‘The Reality of business’, we closed windows on credit in order to balance what we lost last year, and decided to sell only on cash basis. We agreed that the highest cash buyer would win the star prize. So, we had 10 people who went home with prizes. It was a very big competition among our marketers scattered all over the country, but mainly the Lagos marketers and the star prize winner of the Lexus 330 SUV became Ifeanyi Joseph who have won our star prize consecutively for three times now. While Taofeek Yahaya Adebayo won the Toyota Corolla. Other consolation prizes include double door refrigerators, generators of various sizes, among others.