Over 20 years ago, Abayomi Oguntowo got into the business of buying and selling cars before he relocated to the United States of America. He has since expanded into vehicle repairs services by building Nigeria’s first chassis straightening and full automobile repairs workshop. In this interview, he shares his vision for the vehicle repair industry in Nigeria.
Why did you begin with selling cars?
I have always had passion for good looking cars ever since I was a little kid back in primary school. I always wondered how they functioned but then I also look around and I see a lot of adults who don’t own cars so I started seeing the business opportunity in it even though I really didn’t know how to go about it back then. Eventually, I finished secondary school and I joined one of my aunts to purchase her car at Cotonou and then, it became a business for me till date.
So why did you diversify into car repairs?
Well, I got to the US and saw an even bigger opportunity to buy used cars and send them down to Nigeria for sales but there was always one problem or the other when the vehicles get here; it’s either the vehicle has a small dent, a scratch, a broken or a spoilt part. Sadly, most of the vehicle mechanics, painters and technicians here always do a shoddy job or take time too much time to deliver something so small. These errors and time delays affect my business by reducing the turnover time and valuation of the vehicle.
I also discovered on my several visits to Nigeria that most workshops are just so local. You will see vehicle body technicians still using chains to tie vehicle chassis to trees and using a bigger vehicle to pull the chassis so it can get back into shape. Sadly, the chassis never returns to its pristine factory shape and the owner is advised to just manage it with the partially bent chassis.
So I decided to build a world-class vehicle repair centre in Nigeria starting with the workshop at Ibadan.
What kind of equipment do you have at the workshop?
The Serviceking centre is equipped with an automated chassis straightening machine which is the first of its kind here in Nigeria amongst many other machines.
We also have a global standard oven spray booth to spray vehicles in details and on time back to their original factory colors. The color codes are decided and mixed by computers and then sprayed and baked in the oven where it cannot be affected by outside weather conditions. So we have been able to do away with that excuse that you can only spray vehicles when the weather is favorable.
We have automatic vehicle tyre changers, balancers and many other computer-based machines just to ensure things are done to the original factory standard of the vehicle.
Other than fixing the vehicles I send to Nigeria, I also want Nigerians to experience happiness when their cars are fixed back to factory condition.
You work in America, why did you choose to invest back home?
I am an American but then, there is no place like home. Nigerians are great people and they love things that have world class standard. We need to believe that Nigeria can grow and my passion is to be an agent for that growth by investing my time, my talent and my treasure back home in Nigeria. We can help create jobs, boost the local economy, offer great service and improve the general happiness levels of Nigerians across board.
My dream is to organize vehicle repair service in Nigeria to global standards and of course profit from doing so.
What challenges have you faced so far in setting up this workshop?
Well, I prefer to put it this way; we can improve the ease of doing business in Nigeria by removing a lot of bureaucracies, improving electricity supply and improving security.
These are challenges faced by every Nigerian on a daily basis and business owners are not exempted from them.
What are your plans and aspirations for the future?
We want Serviceking to be the number one automobile workshop not only in Ibadan, but across Nigeria and indeed Africa. We shall set up similar workshops across cities of Nigeria and Africa.
My dream is to take vehicle repair service in Nigeria to global standards
- Interview first appeared in Nigeria Tribune