• Friday, July 19, 2024
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Nigerians are among the most knowledgeable consumers across the globe – Rohtagi

Nigerians are among the most knowledgeable consumers across the globe – Rohtagi

Manish Rohtagi is the managing director, Stallion Auto Keke Limited and VON Automobiles of Nigeria Limited. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE, he explained how despite the COVID-19 pandemic negative effects on businesses, his company recorded tremendous sales in Nigeria as it made huge sales of 75,000 units within one year. He said that the company’s support to staff and riders through its dealers and fleet owners has been a major point of satisfaction. Excerpts:

How has your company fared particularly at this post-COVID-19 era considering the fact that every aspect of life is taking up a new norm?

Covid-19 has been an era of pain, losses and decline for many across the world. Many have lost their near and dear ones. Many people across the globe have lost their livelihood due to the pandemic. Kudos to Nigeria, Nigerian government and Nigerian people, who have shown a brave face during such testing time and stood together to sail through.

Our organisation in fact, started during the peak of Covid-19 and thankfully we have fared very well. For us, more than business results, we were able to take care of the health of our team, dealers and other stakeholders. While we crossed highest ever figures of Bajaj Keke in Nigeria, our support to our staff and riders through our dealers and fleet owners have been a major point of satisfaction to us.

The key highlight is about our technical staff training by the parent company Bajaj Auto which happened completely off line through video calls and other virtual mediums. I am personally quite glad to inform you that our Nigerian Technical and Production team have done a wonderful job by achieving the highest order of quality and consistency in spite of being trained online.

Despite the challenge, Stallion Bajaj had been able to empower 75,000 riders and sold 75,000 units in less than a year. Basically, it was our stakeholder management and Stallion Bajaj commitment to help and support riders and dealers. We are getting support from all corners of Nigeria hence could achieve such high volumes.

What strategies are you putting in place presently to ensure that your company remains top-notch considering the present challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Firstly, we are concerned about any spread of Covid-19. Any trace of any health issues, we are quite flexible for employees to operate from home. Remote working and virtual meetings is the key to success. We are insisting on regular health checkups and maintaining a high level of personal hygiene. We are also watchful of our productions, pipelines shipments and inventories in order to fulfil countries requirements. Our focus is on to maintain the costs under control but emphasis on human life growth of our stakeholders.

Nigerians are not only ready for new strategies and services but Nigerians are one of the most knowledgeable consumers across Globe. The rapid sale of Bajaj RE250 is the testimony of Nigerian consumers’ understanding about new trends and ability to differentiate the real value of brand and products.

Read also: ANALYSIS: Business owners recount tales one year after COVID-19

Our automated call centre and online redressal system are well accepted and appreciated by the Nigerian consumers. Our Below the Poverty Line Customer is well informed and can’t be taken for a ride by anyone in the World.

What particular ideas have you brought to the stallion Group in the last one year to make sure it remains superior?

Our ideas are new but aligned to Nigeria economic growth. We have been working closely with many Microfinance banks specially LAPO, Wetland, MISS, Al Barka and many others to enable the empowerment of youth of Nigeria. While we are providing the unemployed youth with riding skills and techniques, other partner Microfinance Banks are providing liquidity to them to ensure their daily income as micro entrepreneurs. Driving Keke is the best micro entrepreneurship in Nigeria as of today which has zero gestation period.

The core of our strategy revolves around inclusiveness with a strong desire of shared prosperity. We believe in empowerment of Nigerians, empowerment of females and empowerment of our staff. This has helped us to create a winning team which has pushed the Group up and fetched unexpected results.

We have done many female empowerment programmes including training as mechanics and assemblers. Stallion Auto Keke Limited is the only automobile assembly plant which has employed many female staff on the assembly line.

Tell us, what has it been like working in this sector of Nigeria’s economy?

The Nigerian economy is expected to boom in coming years. The last mile transportation is the key to growth for any underdeveloped economy like Nigeria. Stallion Group is committed to work shoulder to shoulder with the key policy makers and government bodies to ensure that the Automobile sector contributes significantly to the growth of the Nigerian economy. We are aligned with major government bodies like MAN, NADDC, Ministry of Trade and Investment and other bodies to ensure Nigeria grows faster in this part of the economy.

Tell us about your career journey in this field. What are the qualities that have kept you on top, especially as a leader of one of the well-known companies in Nigeria?

Particularly, my own experience in Nigeria has been wonderful and I found the people trustworthy, Intelligent and willing to learn and grow. Each Nigerian is thriving to grow and prosper. Many of my colleagues have been elevated to higher positions. My personal aim is to ensure that each Nigeria Staff gets what he or she deserves. It will be our failure if people around us don’t grow not only financially but also in terms of their skill sets and new skills acquisition. Development and growth of Nigeria through the development and growth of Nigerian is paramount to all of us in Stallion.

What are the challenges you faced so far?

The challenge is the mindset and unwillingness to change. Many Nigerians don’t want to move around the country. Many of them are sticky about their place of work and postings, while the ones who are mobile get opportunities to grow. Mobility from North to South, South to East and East to North is the biggest challenge so far as far as talent pool is concerned. Unfortunately, my friends would want to go to the UK/USA etc and execute subliminal jobs but they are hesitant in their own country to move around.

You must have had some tough jobs you had to deal with along the line, so, tell us about them.

The toughest job for any professional is the retrenchment of staff. Fortunately, Stallion Group is a pro-employees organisation. We have neither asked people to go nor did we have any salary cuts. The other challenges have been ensuring high standards of ethics and culture. Due to Covid-19, this became more pertinent in Nigeria among low-income groups. We ensured their wellbeing during this tough time and found out highly positive reciprocal behaviour from all stakeholders.

What vision do you have for your company in the next five years?

Since our company is a part of the Nigerian economy arena, my vision is to see Nigeria becoming a force to reckon with in Auto manufacturing and supplying to various West African countries. Nigeria has everything that it takes to become the automobile boss of West Africa. Next five year if we achieve the same, our company would surely lead that change and be a flag bearer of the Nigerian Automobile Industry. Besides, our team is constantly working on innovation and localisation. We are working with local vendors to develop many parts locally in Nigeria. We are working on a ‘Made in Nigeria’ plan. Stallion Bajaj is set to boost the Make in Nigeria drive. And take note that it would be “Make in Nigeria” because the products are assembled in Nigeria.

You are obviously a very busy person. Do you create time to relax at all?

Making someone happy is the most relaxing thing for me. While I love traveling and spending time with my wife and my daughter, I always look for any opportunity to add value to someone’s life. People with sufficient means and enough resources must come forward and share the happiness with others who are underprivileged and deprived; they all would find happiness and satisfaction doing the same. The best relaxing activity is to share.

Nigeria is celebrating 61st Independence Day, any special plans for the celebration by your company?

We have plans to launch a few schemes to promote education among our customer base and empower the next generation of our dealers with support of overseas management training.