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We are focused on our market and meeting the needs of our customers – Etex MD

Etex, a parent company for Nigerite Limited and Emenite Limited, is a key player in Nigeria’s building materials market offering various building components covering a wide variety of designs from fibre cement and plasterboard systems to applications for cladding, facade, roofing and terrace to high-performance fire protection and insulation for construction. Etex Nigeria has over eight hundred staff working in Lagos & Enugu.

In this interview Denis Simonin, managing director, Etex Nigeria, spoke about sustaining a formidable building and construction brand for 63 years, some challenges in Nigeria’s building manufacturing industry and how the brand has been able to stay afloat amid a very tough operating environment. SEYI JOHN SALAU brings the excerpts:

For Etex in Nigeria, what are the impacts and advantages of having local shareholdings?

We have local cooperation with the Odua Investment Company in Nigerite and the eastern states for Emenite. I think that is very important to me as the MD, our local partners help to give insights and guidance to the local context and ways to better drive business in Nigeria. Our cooperation with local partners helps us to better understand the ways to interact with local stakeholders which is one of the key factors of our success for over six decades in Nigeria.

What are the core values guiding your operations?

We have three main values, the first one, Connect and Care includes safety and security; we put this as our top priority for any of our operations and employees, suppliers and customers. Safety is a core priority. We want everyone working for us or with us to be in a safe and secure environment. We care for people. Passion for Excellence is driving all our operations and processes and Pioneer to Lead. Etex is a clear leader in all her activities. We try to put excellence in each one of our products in terms of delighting our customers and the market in general by offering the best innovative and effective roofing, ceiling and partitioning solutions for the Nigerian building and construction sector.

As a market leader in Nigeria’s roofing, building boards and ceiling business, how do you source materials?

The cement is locally sourced; we have the cement produced in Nigeria, and we use some minerals like sans and kaolin which are sourced also in Nigeria. Other chemicals and fibres that are not produced in Nigeria are imported. A large percentage of our raw materials is sourced locally.

With over 60 years of operations in Nigeria’s building manufacturing sector, how have you been able to stay competitive?

One reason for our longevity in the industry is having robust local shareholders as this helps to guide and take opportunities. We have focused on our market, looking at the product, the needs of our beloved customers and meeting the needs of the market. Also, an excellent network of distributors, and trading presence in the market. It’s a long effort as this does not happen in a year. We have been working hard for many years and that’s why Nigerite & Emenite are well-known in the Nigerian market with of course marketing and communication efforts all through these six decades.

Read also: Solewant redefines business model for enhanced products delivery

How do you ensure the quality and safety of Nigerite products?

Each of our products passes through different levels of quality tests ranging from aesthetic, resistance and strength. We seek to ensure when we deliver these products, we ascertain that they will be highly resistant and be of the highest quality attainable anywhere worldwide – our products must always tick the boxes for quality and longevity. For over sixty years, we have had a very good reputation and our customers trust the quality of our products.

Are you presently in all the 36 states in Nigeria?

Currently, we have factories in Lagos State (Nigerite Limited) and Enugu State (Emenite Limited), and we have distributors in all the Southern parts of the country and Abuja. For now, we don’t have plans to spread into other northern states, but we are open to collaborating with distributors in the Northern regions. In the next ten years, we will have our industries in more states with more distributors across all 36 states.

What are some of the challenges the sector is facing and what advice will you proffer?

One of the biggest challenges we are facing is inflation, especially the recent hike in the price of diesel that is impacting transportation and affecting all our customers. Another challenge is clearing & processing of imported goods, it takes a long time to clear goods in Nigeria and Forex makes all importation very expensive. An important challenge is also to continue to develop our local teams. In Nigeria, the market for good engineers and managers is very competitive and the educational system needs to produce more of these future talents. We need more skilled technicians and that is why we are investing so much in training by enrolling ours in technical schools.

What is the company’s next direction?

The priority for me and my team is to continue to develop our markets and production opportunities to fill our new machine which is our major capex for 2023 to produce boards and ceilings with modern technology. Now projecting Etex Nigeria in the next 10 years, for sure we will have developed by that time a strong Gypsum presence in addition to our already established Fiber Cement business. We plan to position Nigeria as a destination for top-notch, lightweight innovative building & construction solutions.

Any new products in the last few years?

Currently, we are launching Siniat brands in the market. The Siniat brands are made of 2 categories of products, one is the Plaster of Paris (POP) that we recently launched into the market, and the second is Plasterboard. These are both complements of fibre cement products.

Also, we have been innovative in our production process through the reduction of our CO2 footprint. We have consciously reduced the concentration of cement used in our processes while improving the quality of the finished products through the use of new and modern technology.

Can you tell us about the CSR initiatives and staff strength?

In our CSR drive, we have participated in a couple of projects. One was in Sapele, Delta state, which was a school renovation project. We engage in many other projects where we assist with the construction and beautification of our esteemed brand loyalists – carpenters & installers association buildings and workshops. We recently signed a project in Abuja and in Owerri where we are working with the Fuller Foundation and SringAid GNOs. We also act a lot on offering professional training for carpenters, plaster of paris (POP) applicators. We educate them on installation best practices and how to use our products and solutions.

PHOTO CAPTION

Denis Simonin, managing director, Etex Nigeria