Elinuol and Company Nigeria Limited is a major manufacturer of paints and corrosion control products in Nigeria. Our Shepherd M. Mthethwa interviewed the Managing Director Mr Elijah N. Oluikpe who shared valuable insights into the phenomena rise of the company from its humble beginnings
Cr: Please give us some background about Elinuol Company Ltd
Mr Oluikpe: Elinuol and Company Nigeria Limited was fully incorporated in Nigeria in 1985. The company is engaged in the production of paints and corrosion control products.
The company commenced full industrial production of paints in 2000 at the incubator center of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology in Aba, Abia State, Nigeria.
The company has concluded arrangement for expansion that will move it to its permanent site and has been modernizing its production equipment.
The company which started from a one site factory now has developed its markets within three geo-political regions of Nigeria. Elinuol has since its inception produced very high quality products and services and has earned considerable goodwill from key players in the Nigerian building and construction industry. The company’s products have won many awards and certifications including the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON). The company does not compromise its mission to maintain an all time quality paint and corrosion products and services in line with global best practices.
CR: How far have you expanded your markets?
Mr Oluikpe: Well we are not yet looking outside Nigeria. Nigeria is a very big market. We want to satisfy the Nigerian market first. However, due to rising demand from those who have used our products, we are on the verge of engaging representatives in Kenya, Ghana and South Africa.
CR: Could you give us a brief overview of the range of your paints on offer?
Mr Oluikpe: Well, like I said earlier, Elinuol is into paint manufacturing. Our brand of products cuts across Ultracoat Emulsion, UltraTextured, Ultra Screed Mortar, UltraSatin.
Arrangements have been concluded for expansion plans for the Gloss, Water proof Motar, Industrial Paints and Anti-Corrosion products. In all these, we produce decorative paints for buildings of all types, marine paints and anti-corrosion products for ship steel structures and oil pipelines.
CR: What is your target market?
Mr Oluikpe: The target market for Eliunol is the building and construction industry generally. When I say the building industry, I refer to builders from individual builders to corporate players in the real estate sector of the economy. These are estate developers and building cooperatives.
We do not segregate in our choice of clients. Our desire is to ensure that builders whether individual builders or large scale builders use our products in finishing their houses. Crown Reality Estate Plc, PZ Cussons Plc, Fist Bank of Nigeria Plc are among our large scale clients.
But one thing that is not in dispute is that all who use any of our range of products have not regretted the decision. Funny enough, at the beginning, we practically begged some of them to use our products. But as the saying goes that good product markets itself, those who gave us the benefit of doubt in the beginning have not looked back since then. It is now our product first before any other. So in summary, our target market cuts across mass markets, public buildings, banks.
CR: What are the trends affecting the paints market in Nigeria?
Mr Oluikpe: With Nigeria’s commitment to housing as the most populous African nation in the world, housing is still in major demand. Rising housing needs provides the platform for large estate developers and demands paint manufactures commitment to the industry.
CR: What are the challenges facing the paint industry?
Mr Oluikpe: Several challenges confront the paint industry in Nigeria. The challenges are multi dimensional, ranging from influx of inferior and adulterated products to lack of necessary support from government at all levels and lack of adequate working capital.
Let me start with the first which is the influx of inferior and adulterated paints from within and outside Nigeria and secondly, the importation of various classes of paints from Asian and Western countries. These products easily find their way into the country mainly because of lack of government support for local manufacturers.
The industry can employ many Nigerians and save a lot of foreign exchange. The influx of these products which come rather cheaper greatly affects the patronage of indigenous products. The sad thing however is that Nigerians who go for them later pay more in the long run because the paints are not designed for tropical weather like Nigeria.
The intensity of both the sun and rain are higher than for most Asian and Western countries. These inferior products affect the beauty of the architectural designs since the products can not effectively protect and maintain the beauty intended by our architects.
Thirdly, most local paint manufacturers lack the concept of research and development so as to meet up with the international standard code which ELINUOL & COMPANY is committed to. When I say we need government patronage, I mean all the three tiers of government the local, state and federal government. Most times, government agencies are not genuinely interested in the growth of the industry.
It will do more good for the industry if there is a standing regulation that ensures that builders make use of locally manufactured paints that have passed the necessary industrial standards. We also have the challenge of funding. Most local paint manufacturers are cash strapped and this makes it very difficult to expand production.
Due to lack of adequate working capital, most factories are producing below installed capacity. With adequate working capital, these industries will increase their production capacity and this will in turn increase employment opportunities for the Nigerian youths as well as increase research and development.
CR: What are the major considerations one should take into account when choosing a paint product?
Mr Oluikpe: As you can understand, paint is for decoration and protection and so while choosing a paint product, there are different paints for different classes of jobs. That a particular paint is manufactured by a particular company does not necessarily guarantee that it would be good for that particular purpose. For instance, you do not apply emulsion paint where an ultra screed Mortar product is required. Similarly, you do not apply texture paint when what is needed is anti-corrosion products. So the nature of the painting work determines what type of paint that will be applied. So it is advisable that one engages the right professionals in his building projects in order to have full value for his money.