Hard work can be painful to many professionals whose lives are devoid of purpose, but it is one of the principles which have driven this indigenous mind to global reckoning and places him among the shining Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in Nigeria.
Dr. Caleb Ajagba is the CEO of Candid Logistics Nigeria Limited, an indigenous shipping, integrated logistics and supply chain company established in 2003 by well-groomed logistics professionals primarily to redefine how freight forwarding, Customs clearance and transport logistics are being handled in Nigeria. In this interview, the CEO of distinction speaks on the rise, challenges and future projection for Candid Logistics Nigeria Limited amongst other issues. Excerpts:
What prompted the establishment of Candid Logistics Nigeria Limited?
It was the conviction of our top management that, in the present-day environment characterized by pressure to excel and meet up with project targets, discerning clients can no longer afford the luxury of allowing their staff to be running after Customs and logistics agents instead of concentrating on their ever demanding jobs before time-definite and sensitive shipments are delivered to them. Our growth, over the years, has been as a result of many factors which include provision of excellent services to our customers spread all over the world; commitment of our highly motivated work force and international network of partners in over 120 countries; our satisfied clients have continued to be our greatest advertisers as we perhaps have the highest number of referrals in our industry and; our commitment to integrity and reliability of services. We have come to discover that once our clients are satisfied, it rubs off on the company with excellent performance that drives growth across the group.
We have maintained a leading edge in the provision of shipping, Customs clearance and freight forwarding services to the multinational, governmental, diplomatic, telecommunications, and oil and gas sectors in Nigeria. We have equally distinguished ourselves in the provision of cost-effective project logistics, trade fairs, events and critical logistics.
Candid International Moving & Relocations Limited(a subsidiary of Candid Logistics Nigeria Limited) has been providing tailor-made services to individuals, governmental and non-governmental entities, international organizations and embassies in relation to their personal effects and household goods, diplomatic cargo, international removals and relocations services. Whether the cargo is inbound or outbound by sea or by air freight, we have ensured that we maintained a leading edge in the industry through the provision of excellent, professional and courteous services that meet international standards. This has also influenced our choices of international or worldwide partners in about 120 countries.
Challenges associated with managing businesses in Nigeria
The major challenge has been getting the support of a sincere financial institution that is willing to partner with us to move to the next phase of our growth. Many of the banks and their representatives that approached us made very juicy promises and the moment a relationship was started with them, the story changed. In some instances, when some of the banking staff moved to other banks, they approached us to move with them. So, we have come to associate all banks as doing traditional banking of establishing a relationship to attract deposits and are really not sincere to help re-engineer growth in some critical sectors of the economy.
Secondly, infrastructural decay is a major problem. The cost of doing business has gone up due to poor infrastructure like poor roads networks, non-functional railways system for bulk and heavy duty haulage. The poor port facilities have continued to make cargo clearance to be a nightmare due to unabated port congestion especially in the Lagos ports of Apapa and Tincan Island.
I will look at this question in two ways: for me as an individual and for Candid Logistics Nigeria. What I consider as my greatest turning point in life happened on January 30, 1984 when I made a stronger commitment to serve God and the interest of His Kingdom. In other words, I became a born-again Christian by making Jesus Christ as my personal LORD and Saviour and I committed my entire life to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
This singular decision redefined my outlook to life and things generally including my business philosophy as well as the policies and decisions that have helped to place Candid Logistics Nigeria as a Logistics service provider of choice globally.
The decision to allow myself and what I do to be guided by godly principles is the best decision of my life and unarguably my best turning point in life and, for Candid Logistics Nigeria, our turning point came in 2008 when we won a global contract as the shipping and logistics consultants to coordinate import and export of the first ever MTV Africa Music Awards project in Abuja Nigeria.
The project involved a consortium of partners and global players. We were subjected to series of pre-qualification processes because of the critical nature of the project. Partners and stakeholders came from the US, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, South Africa and Nigeria to ensure excellent execution of this project.
After the project, we were given thumps up as the best global logistics consultants. The effect of this was that our highly satisfied clients became our advertising agents and have continued to recommend our services to their global partners who have needs for exceptional services in our industry. The take home for us is that if you are exceptionally good in what you are doing, you do not need so much paid advertisements. Your satisfied customers will render that service free of charge to you. So our satisfied customers have continued to be our strongest point of contact for future business to date. This has also placed a huge responsibility on us not to disappoint them by constantly being creative and innovative in our services not just in meeting their needs and expectations but also striving to surpass them.
Candid Logistics Nigeria Limited is looking at growing the shipping and freight forwarding industry and improving on our share of the market especially in the personal effects and households goods sub-sector of the industry. We also have plans to establish Candid Logistics in some countries within the West Africa Sub-region especially in landlocked countries and difficult destinations of Africa. Our targets are in countries like Niger, Chad, Cameroun, and Central Africa Republic (CAR). Our foreign partners are always in need of reliable agents to handle their cargo in these areas.