My business has grown from strength to strength since I married – Ezekiel Adamu | Independent Newspapers Limited
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My business has grown from strength to strength since I married – Ezekiel Adamu

Posted: May 2, 2015 at 4:16 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Ezekiel Adamu, is the son of sports administrator, Amos Adamu, but he is more popular as the owner of Balmoral, the high-end event centre in Lagos. In this interview with Hazeez Balogun, he speaks about business challenges, philosophies and how marriage has changed his life

Is it safe to say that Balmoral is best tent event centre?

I don’t think that we are at the level we’re trying to get to yet. It’s still work in

Adamu and wife toasting to their marriage.

Adamu and wife toasting to their marriage.

progress. As a good Christian, I know that in all levels we should always thank God and celebrate where you are. Well, I have to say I have been a bit surprised too at the way the company has grown from the lowly rental service to where it is now. We have a plan. We are not surprised at the level we are now and the level it will get to eventually. Eventually, it’s still going into other businesses. In the next 10 years, you will even stop calling them tents.  Then you will start calling them temporary structures and all sorts of names. There are so many areas we can diversify into. And basically, all of these are still in the pipeline.

How did it all started?

I grew up in a privilege environment where I travelled a lot. I went abroad and saw what they use tents for. In fact, we would go into an event and we would not know we were in a tent. And by the time you go there the following day the structure has been dismantled. We saw this and felt like giving it a try and see how Nigerians would respond to it. We started with just one tent then.

It must have been difficult at first?

Well, my model is that success is a journey and not a destination. And for you to succeed in any area you are operating; you need to be persistent, believe in your dreams and you need to keep working at it every passing day. Yes, for a whole year, we did not get a customer but we got enquiries. The enquiries kept on increasing so there’s always a positive side to pick on every day. You have to look deep to get those positives that you are looking for. Yes, there were those positives even when we were not getting the financial returns. People look at us that, if there are no financial returns there’s no progress. We were persistent and now, it has become an industry.

Pricing must have been hard to do at first since no other person doing the same thing. 

We started with a price and people thought that it was too expensive and the natural thing we could do when people were not coming was to reduce the price. But we were persistent till we got our clients value for their money. If we reduce the price too much we would not be able to give people value for their money. So we stuck at it and we got our first opportunity through a client who basically we served at pretty much nothing. We just wanted to give a go and let people see what we could do.

That was in 2005. And from there, people who came for the event loved it. They loved the idea of just being in a building that is not a proper building but a tent. From there, we actually get our clients from the works we do. We don’t do a lot of advertisements. Henceforth, we always make sure that every event we do is a form of advertisement for other clients that will come. I’ll say that the 12 months of not doing anything, one thing I have learnt from it is how you can use your work and every opportunity you have as a medium for advertisement. We did a lot of newspaper adverts and a lot of other things but it was the work that we did that brought more people to us.

You moved the tent to Benin for Lucky Igbinedion’s daughter’s wedding, do you do that often?

Even now, we go to Ghana, Togo and different parts of West Africa to build tents. It just started like the same way you come for an event, you like the venue and the ambience and then we tell you that it’s actually possible to move it out of town as well. We’ve done the African Union Summit where all the Presidents of African countries gathered and they used the tent as well. For example, the G8 Summit, there’s no venue for it, any country you’re going to, you have to build a temporary structure to accommodate the event you want to do. We’ve been privileged to go round the whole of Nigeria and pretty much most of the major countries in West Africa to build tents as well. 

What has been the bottleneck through the years?

You can give a story and you can even write a book and in a few hours someone finish reading the book and think it’s so easy. Wisdom will tell you that whoever wrote that book have gone through a lot. Yes, the bottlenecks are there but I look at them as stepping-stones. I don’t see them as problems. Any challenge I see, I always look at the opportunity in the challenge. So, it may be difficult for me to start recalling the hurdles we had to scale. Every other challenge, for instance, the roads are not all very well made and we travel a lot. It’s also very difficult to get honest staff, I have been blessed with a lot of them but it has been very difficult. People are always selfish. My model is to serve people; in serving them you will get your returns. I don’t actually get any returns from what I’m doing. I always look at it that when you serve people, one way or the other, you’ll get returns for it.

Nigerians sometimes are a bit short sighted, they always look at what is in it for them, and so they don’t mind sabotaging the work for their selfish reasons. We also have power challenge because most of our works have to do with power. Integrity of people is also one. Some will just give you equipment that is not good enough. Those are the challenges but one way or the other we have been able to use them as stepping-stones. Initially, when we started, we would rent a generator and it would pack up and the event would be messed up but now we have used that as a stepping-stone. Every event we go to, we have to get a back up which makes us more efficient actually. Challenges are there to overcome, without them you would not even grow. So, it’s part of life for me now.

Fire gutted the place some years ago; it must have been difficult getting things back the way it was?

Actually, we built it back in 10 days. I was actually here myself when the fire started and like I told you, challenges are there for us to overcome. Then everybody was telling me, don’t worry with a proverb in Yoruba; Ile Oba to jo, ewa lo bu si which means that the ‘burnt palace has given way for a more beautiful edifice’. That kept on ringing in my head, so immediately the fire service men were able to put it out, from that evening, we started rebuilding. I had to wait for my insurance company to come and take pictures and do what they had to do but immediately, we started rebuilding. I read a lot of books and I’ve read about different people who have gone through similar challenge I had and how they reacted to it. It’s not the problem that hit you; it’s how you reacted to it that matters. Rebuilding that as well has actually given us more opportunities. People look at us now and say these people are into serious business. That problem actually was a good problem in disguise that has opened more opportunities for us.

Did you have the glass materials for the construction of the New Balmoral in your store after the first fabric venue got razed down? 

Like I told you earlier, we still have a long way to go. There are lots of things to achieve. There are still a lot of designs to do. So, when the fire accident occurred, it was an opportunity for us to move to the next level of what we wanted to do. We’ve actually been planning that we want to change it to a glass; we want to start doing different things that people do in developed countries and bring it to Nigeria. So when the fire incident happened, I saw it as an opportunity to do it better than it was before. So, we have different designs, styles of tents we want to bring in. It’s progress in continuum.

You seem to have preference for Lagos Mainland, how come there’s no Balmoral Hall on the Island?

We are careful; we have different opportunities all the times. People come to us to say that we have this, let’s work on this but I can tell you that by God’s grace, in a couple of months, Balmoral is going to come on the Island. And we don’t want to come there and look like every other events centres. We want to come in and come in well.

You have a popular father; did his influence help your business in anyway?

For some reasons, initially, I started this business as a young person, so when I go out, work so hard and get some clients and people start saying he got the job with his father’s influence, I used to get irritated a lot. But I’ve outgrown that now. My father has been supportive of my business, not being involved in it but he has been watching me in work ethics and how I deal with people. But the truth is that 90 percent of jobs we have got has been through referrals. I won’t even take on a job if I cannot do it but I will if I know I can do it well. So, my father would vouch for me that if you give him the job, he would do it, he would not ask for the job when he cannot do it. So, those are the influences he’s had on me. I’ve seen him work and seen him rise to the peak of his career through diligence and that’s the model I’m adopting.

How has your marriage been for you?

Marriage is very beautiful. My wife has been very supportive of my business. People always say that your business triples when you get married, I never believed but now I have been blessed with that. My business has grown from strength to strength since I married. She has really assisted me in this career line and all my works especially, this kind of work, which is very demanding. My work comes in the weekend when everybody is supposed to be with his or her families. And I’m always in one state or the other but she’s been very supportive.

What’s the most romantic time-out you had with your wife and where was the spot?

I still tell her till today that my most romantic holiday with her as you rightly put it was my honeymoon. We got married in December and that was actually the peak period of my work, so, I pleaded with my wife and told her that we would not be able to go for any holiday. I said; ‘sweetheart, there’s no honeymoon now, you understand who you got married to’. And she understood. We were not able to go until late January, then we went to different countries but Dubai experience has been my most romantic holidays ever.

What profession did you had in mind before you chose business?

I had different phases of life, there was time I would say, I want to be a footballer, other times, I wanted to be an actor but after I started harnessing my thoughts, I actually wanted to make a difference in this world. Like I said earlier, I saw my dad make a difference in whatever he was doing; in the family, church, society and I always said to myself, ‘I really want to make a difference in this world. I don’t want to come into this world and just leave without leaving a positive mark’. I’ve never thought of doing tents or anything at all than making the difference that I envisioned. I’ve also tried businesses abroad too before this present one. Wherever I am, I want to make a positive business.

What business did you do when you were abroad?

When I was in London, I did a car wash business; I did that for a while before moving back home. I learnt a lot from that too.

Which school did you attend?

I went to different schools. In my undergraduate days, I studied Computer Science, for my master’s degree, I studied Financial Business Analysis and during this time I was doing my business on the side. I was joggling both together. I’ve garnered a lot of experience from that, especially working in an area where there’s no ‘Oga’ like we call it in Nigeria. There’s no Oga even if you are the boss, you still have to do the job. That has thought me a lot and has prepared me in working here