Bola Olayinka is in the business of adding a â€œWOWâ€ factor to a house.Â And he is just as excited talking about the beauty of house painting:
â€œPainting can be extremely pleasurable because itâ€™s like giving birth to a baby. And when a baby is born, everybody is happy. Such is the feeling when you paint a particular structure.
And when the painting is thoroughly finished people tend to look with admiration and joy and Iâ€™m sure quite a lot of people would like to be part of thatâ€.Â Olayinka is Chief Executive of DN Meyer, the paint manufacturing company, and with his experience in the painting industry, he has been able to determine the steps necessary to achieve the highest quality finishes possible and this is aptly implied in his companyâ€™s slogan:
â€œNothing but a perfect finishâ€.Â Worldwide, the paint industry is an important part of everyday living and statistics confirm that no domestic or commercial arena remains unaffected. Recent years have witnessed significant changes in the paint industry – the succession of company consolidations and acquisitions, for example, stricter market demands in environmental requirements and the increasingly sophisticated nature of consumer demands.
There is also the issue of structural imbalance which, according to Olayinka,Â has impeded the growth of theÂ industry: â€œGiven the privileged position I occupyâ€, he notes,Â â€œ I can conveniently tell you that the paint industry in the last three years has not been growingâ€.
â€œDuring the first dispensation of this democracy in 1999, we spent about 8 years trying to create a transition from allowing the public sector to be the commanding height of the economy,Â and then transferring that to the private sector that is truly occupying that commanding height so as to dictate the pace. Getting to a conclusive point of that transitionÂ has taken a long period of time and we are still a long way off with government still controlling quite a lot starting from the inflow of what Nigeria makes annuallyâ€. In a traditional market like Nigeria,Â Olayinka thinks businesses are not likely to be doing extremely well because there is a huge control on what government does.
He thinks that if government truly operates the capital expenditure the way it ought to be done thatÂ would greatly impact the economy: â€œ We have not gotten toÂ the level where we can truly sayÂ the private sector is in control of the growth of the economy. And in the last three to four years, government has not really been sitting properly to ensure that there is a marriage between the public and private sector to ensure that they continue to take the temperature of the growth of the economyâ€
â€œSo many projects that the government should have embarked upon to benefit the economy are on hold. Even funds meant for capital expenditures are being returned to the treasury instead of being expendedÂ to make a difference in the economyâ€ Nevertheless, he thinks all these government shortcomings could be remedied if the private sector begins to look at the issue from a serious perspective with measures and indices in place to â€œassure us that we are moving in that directionâ€.
Describing the paint in-
dustry as being very tough, Olayinka said that the way it is structured makes it a â€˜very tough cookeyâ€™ because if one is not a dye in the wool manufacturer, the paint industry is an area one shouldnâ€™t dabble intoÂ â€œYou have to constantly find ways of navigating yourway out of chaotic situations on daily basis. And this makes us think on our feet everyday in an industry which now has no entry barrier as a result of the influx of every Tom, Dick and Harry. This has also made regulation to be extremely difficult because we operate under the aegis of Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) whichÂ is biting so much than it can chew and we have since resorted to self regulationâ€
â€œI am equally privileged to be the chairman of the Paint Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and so Iâ€™m in the best position to give an eye view opinion. In the Paint industry today are lots of nuisance manufacturers; people who convert their garages and apartments into paint manufacturing outfits and who naturally eat into our own business.
Beyond that are other operators within the industry whoÂ are nothing but adulterators looking for premium manufacturers like Meyer brandÂ and then adulterating the products and selling them in far away locations.
The law has not been very helpful in this regard as the maximum punishment for adulteration is about a thousand naira so,Â there isnâ€™t much we can do from the legal perspective but of course SON has put in a lot of structure to assist us by ensuring that there is a minimum standard which we call Mandatory Conformance Program Certification (MANCAP) before anybody can operate but then, we need to trap them before MANCAP can be enforced. And with this case scenario, we are left with serious key players with both local and international certification and who also have names to protect.
And these players have
been operating for so many years with very strong brands that have cut a niche in the market. In trying to make sure that whatever one does is very well done is the category DN Meyer falls intoâ€. DN Meyer has a very rich and enviable history.
The companyâ€™s origins are directly linked to John Boyd Dunlop, the Briton who invented the worldâ€™s first practical pneumatic tyre in 1888 and Hagemeyer N.V, the great Dutch Trading Company which operates as a holding company for a vast array of subsidiaries located all over the world( It also manufacturedÂ Sigma Paints and Cosmetics). The company was originally formed as Hagemeyer which commenced Nigeria operations in the early 1940s.
In 1960, it was registered as Hagemeyer Nigeria Limited. Dunlop as a company was established in 1961 and was involved in manufacturing of tyres and tubes and the sale of equipment, industrial rubber goods and footwear. In 1979, multinational companies operating in Nigeria were forced to locate their shareholding in the capital market. This brought the nationalization of the company to become Dunlop Nigeria.Â In 1994 Hagemeyerâ€™s parent company in Netherlands divested and Dunlop Nigeria took over the majority shareholding.
The company thus became a full subsidiary of Dunlop which then introduced the corporate and brand name changes: The DN stands for Dunlop Nigeria whileÂ MeyerÂ derives from (Hagemeyer). The companyâ€™s product brand also shifted from sigma to Meyer brands. Again in 2003, DunlopÂ divested 100% from the company leaving the board with no option but to once again changeÂ name.
TheÂ companyâ€™s boardÂ has since given approval for a name change but the procedure requires approval from the companyâ€™s shareholders and this is still in the making: â€œThe period between 1994 and 2002 before Dunlop divested, played a key role in sustaining the culture and tradition of DN Meyer Plc. Most of the developments you see today were initiated in the period of Dunlop and I would like to say that the company is forever grateful to Dunlop for the role it played in creating a future for the companyâ€.
In the face of the divestment by Dunlop, Olayinka states that DN Meyer has moved to a new phase in its life by becoming a fully Nigeria owned company through shareholders that acquired stakes in the companyÂ at the capital market.
And he thinks that standing alone has been very challenging for the company: â€œThe resilience we have now has been built over time and our very rich history has also sustained us, especially in our key business decisions.
Indeed, the partnership we had with Dunlop has strengthened the structure to such an extent that even though Dunlop is no longer a part of us; what it left behind is part of the rich structure and culture you see in DN Meyerâ€. Looking around, chances are youâ€™ll see DN Meyerâ€™s influence.
Its products can be found everywhere from airports to quite possibly the house next to you. Meyer products are the best in its segment of the market. One of its product,Â the Meyer Long life paint is a specially formulated water-based and environmentally friendly paint which is peculiar in the industry because it is manufactured to last for as long as 15 years on structures. Perhaps this explainsÂ why it isÂ being recommended for high-rises, coastal building and other buildings that are susceptible to fungi attack: â€œWe haveÂ Â products which are basically water and chemicalÂ based,â€ he says.
â€œAndÂ amongst our products are emulsion of imperial and ultimate. We also have the gloss both inÂ imperial and ultimate as well.Â And In addition to that, we can customize products for customers on demand since we have the technical competence and ability to produce whatÂ they want and our customers have always been impressedâ€.
Understanding customer needs is as aspect DN Meyer takes seriously and as he puts it: â€œWithout the customers we are nothingâ€
â€œEveryday we continue to learn about them and weâ€™ve never gotten to the point of boasting that we know so much about our customers because they are also influenced by what goes on globally in terms of sophistication, loyalty, taste and demand. And that puts pressure on our own research effortsâ€
â€œWe have a world class laboratory where we continue to think through and we have created mechanisms to ensure that we get feedback from them from time to time.
The first rule here says the customer is king and the second rule says where the customer is wrong you go back to rule one so everything converges on our customers and we continue to understudy them.
And the fact that we have a shared vision makes things work a lot better for us at DN Meyerâ€