• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Adebayo, an entrepreneur changing dry-cleaning one garment at a time

Eni-Ibukun Adebayo, founder of CleanAce Fabricare.

With 31 years in dry-cleaning, half of which he’s spent running his company, he’s in pursuit of one thing—to organise the dry-cleaning sector.

His early days of doing this through training and capacity-building were not scrumptious. He often met students who took advantage of the access to his facility to poach some of his staff members.

Even for a-five-feet-and-eleven-inches tall man, this threatened his business, despite the friendly but intimidating aura he exudes.

Read Also: BusinessDay Diary (Ep 1): An entrepreneur transforming the dry-cleaning sector a garment at a time

But there are no entrepreneurial hurdles a man with a vision cannot negotiate through — not even failing the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) exams six times could be a bulwark.

When it comes to dry-cleaning and laundry, Eni-Ibukun Adebayo may have seen it all as the founder of CleanAce Fabricare, a foremost dry-cleaning and laundry company with a long history.

Adebayo loading up a washing machine with clothes

Adebayo at work with staff at CleanAces, Lekki branch

 

The company, though a godly-inspired organisation, is Adeboye’s conduit to putting structure and formality into a sector that hitherto ran rudderless, reflecting Nigeria’s innate ‘anyhowness.’

Prior to the establishment of the company, the industry had no regulations and no status. There was no association.

There were also a lot of staff challenges. An instance would be staff arbitrarily leaving one dry-cleaner and jumping to another. Dry-cleaners damaging a client’s garments and clients are helpless because they do not have anybody to report to. Sometimes, when a garment is damaged, the customer locks up the staff.

Employees engaged in ironing

A staff member sorts out invoices. At CleanAce sorting, invoices is an important practice because it helps workers in this department identify clothes that are brought in for dry cleaning.

These issues pushed Adebayo to further establish the CleanAce Academy and CleanAce Foundation in order to sanitise the sector.

“All sorts of things just happened in the dry-cleaning industry. I left my father’s business and worked with my cousin for another four years. And in December 2004, I wanted to launch into dry cleaning, consultancy, and training. So, I said let me try and organise this industry. Let me try and put the people together,” he said.

The ultimate goal, for him, is to be the dry-cleaning consultant to arrange the industry. And since the inception of the business, including the academy and the foundation, Adeboye has been doing exactly that one garment at a time.

Students are trained on how to start their dry-cleaning businesses, dry-cleaning techniques, laundry technique, finishing technique, customer service in dry cleaning, and entrepreneurship in dry cleaning at the academy.

A staff member at CleanAces quality control department. The hunger for quality drove into getting the ISO 90012015 for quality standard and management.

 

Invariably, the foundation is targeted at propagating the clean initiative, as BusinessDay learnt—the clean lifestyle—according to Adeboye, who strongly stands with the old saying that ‘cleanliness is next to Godliness.’

“This is especially for children because nobody teaches them those things anymore. Growing up, there used to be a price for the neatest student. So, the CleanAce Foundation is taking that back into the school and we’re teaching the students [the importance of] cutting your nails on time, cleaning your clothes on time, not wear your underwear twice. We also make them debate on the clean lifestyle in order to help our children to imbibe this culture of a clean lifestyle. ” he told our correspondent.

An employee of CleanAce on duty

 

While his drive for quality service earned the company the ISO 9001: 2015 certification for laundry business in Africa, like other businesses in Nigeria, the bottlenecks of running a dry-cleaning business circle around power, staff, capital, and ease of doing business.

The Covid-19 pandemic also dealt a big blow. The company lost a lot of money due to the lockdown, he told our reporter.

However, Adebayo also revealed that despite the losses, the pandemic turned out to be a blessing as a lot of wastages, and carelessness were curtailed. More so, it sparked more pro-activeness among the members of staff.

Adeboye inspects a new department where CleanAce’s shoe service will run. The company is planning on optimizing its services to include shoe care.

 

“It’s been easier running this business than it has been in the past 15 years because mindsets have changed. Now people are more proactive, and the ownership drive is very much intense,” he intoned.

On scaling through obstacles as an entrepreneur, he said you must have enough passion for what you do. You must enjoy it so much that you do not see the obstacles and keep moving. That is a big key to succeeding in Nigeria according to him.

In addition, he noted that you must always look for new ways to do it better, simpler, and cheaper. You want to always network, have role models, keep reinventing yourself, and keep reading.

Adeboye checking a machine imported from Italy for its shoe care service. The company also imported blankets and duvet washers as part of efforts to optimise a lot of its services.

 

“You always want to stretch to new standards, set a new goal for yourself, and stretch. Never stop trying. Be real to your people and be very ethical. Do the right thing with your taxes. It goes around.

“If you cut taxes, your staff will know you’re cutting taxes, and somewhere along the line, your trust, confidence, and integrity drop. Be a man of high character and standards. Be real to everybody,” he said.