The Managing Director of GaleCity Limited, Mr. Frankin Ajayi spoke to our editor about the contributions of his organization in the housing sector, and other issues. Excerpt:
Sir, please introduce yourself!
I am Frankin Ajayi. I am entrepreneur; I am into manufacturing, stocks and also into real estate.
How long have you been in business?
I thought I should start by… We started some 3 ½ years ago. I did start as a stock broker some years ago. I remember joining a stock broking firm. I started as marketer and in 4 months I rose to become head of research. It was out of sheer hard work. I took my time to study what capital market was all about. In 9th month of my stay, coincidentally the branch manager was to go abroad for further studies. The management asked for recommendation of the branch manager and my name was submitted. And by the time they were through with their assessment I became their branch manager. I headed the branch for almost four years. My major achievement was representing the company at the highest level. During the course of my job, I came in contact with those that matter in the industry; Dr. Aliko Dangotes, Dr. Ndi Okereke Onyiuke etc. I had opportunity to meet them one on one.
Can you take us to your educational background?
I studied Biochemistry. One good thing about having a science background is that it teaches you research. That is what really helped. When I came in, I told myself I did not know anything. I took short courses. I was born in Benin, I was born in Benin. I was privileged to go to one of the best schools in Benin. I attended ICC (Immaculate Conception College). I then went to Cambridge College Lagos where I did my A’Level. I was supposed to go to UK to study but that was when my father had investment issues in the UK.( He died last year). I had to stay back. I attended Ambrose Alli University. My dad wanted me to study medicine. I actually like it but my passion was in management. I applied for personal Management in UniLag, he shut it down. Auchi Poly offered me Accounting and he said no. I got engineering in Yaba Tech but I was not allowed to go. Those were some of the experiences I had.
Why did you abandon Biochemistry?
When I was doing my internship in National Hospital, I took out time to study the way of life of Biochemists and I told myself that this is not the kind of life I want to live. Then I was very close to the HOD, Dr. Momoh, we talked and we asked a lot of questions about the course itself. I understood that it will take up to 15 years (after graduation) to get to the position of supervisor. I just realized that I was not going to continue in that line. When I graduated I started a little business, this telecom thing. I had a shop at EMAB plaza and had people working under me.
There was something I did not know in the area of financial management. That was why I got a job in the stock broking firm. Image having your business where you people working under you and you abandon it to get a job where you are paid salary and commission. That was crazy. I told myself I came here to learn and not the money. I was the only Biochemist; others were economists, accountants, business administrators.
I just came and in the 4th month I remember my branch manager used go for a meeting he will come ask me to recommend some stock. How did it start, every week we used have recommended stocks to buy and I discovered that some of the stocks he recommended were not doing well. I started recommending by myself. The set of clients under me were making money, return on investment was high. That was how I became the head of research.
Why did you leave the stock business?
When stocks crashed, we stopped making much profit, but we were making enough to pay our bills. But there was a little politics as my influence was affecting other stock brokers in the complex where we had office. After an incident with SEC management I had to leave. I manage issues very well. I left in January 2011, and started my own firm. Six month into it I noticed that I was not making enough money. I had to look for 3 investment windows to leverage my income which are; manufacturing, capital market and real estate. We started real estate after six month with a small parcel of land at Lugbe. I went for my clients in the capital market. So I sold part of that estate before the site was cleared. That was how we started.
When the crises started at Airport road, we started looking for options, by asking ourselves; how we can take care of our people? While looking for that, we considered areas that will not be too risky and affordable, and then we got some parcel of land at Karu. When we got the land, we started talking with some media people. I remember one of them gave me a bill of 450,000,00. I actually wanted to pay but I just realized that it will cost me less than 150,000:00 to float a magazine. And I came up with my own magazine. I had to create a different identity to manage it. It was easy for me to sell the business by myself. Interestingly we have that magazine in major cities in the country. We started dealing with state governments. Presently as I speak with you we do businesses with three (3) state governments Bauchi, Benue, Lagos.
How many estate have you completed?
The first one was in Lugbe, followed the one in Karu, we have something in Edo State. Presently, I am working on something at Gwarinpa (8units) precisely on 3rd Avenue. In six months we will be through with it.
What is the last cost of your property?
What we do is site and services. The list for house is 3.8million for 1bedroom terrace bungalow. I have never collected loan, as an investment banker, I cannot advice anybody to collect loan to start such project. There is one of 1.1million, there is one of 9,000,000.=, there is one of 750,000,= and there is one of 350,000,=.
We discounted it for the staff FRCN. They have a very good leader called Obi, he negotiated it down because of the large number of people involved. I considered number and the fact that I have some business relationship with some other persons.
What is your staff strength?
We have few staff (10) and some contract staff who come when we need them; and some consultants. We have branches in Kogi, Bauchi…
Where are you from?
I am from Edo State, Edo North. I came from a polygamous family. My dad married two wives. My mum was the second and I am the first child of the second wife. We are five in number and my step mother had four. My mum died 2002 and my dad died last year. Presently I have two kids. My boy is about 2 years and my daughter is just 3 months. I am 37 years old.
What is the driving force behind your success?
Humility, remember that I told you I went to the company to learn and not to vie for positions. All I need to do when I come into a place is to take my time to study the nitty-gritty of what is going on. Basically the quest for knowledge is what has been driving me. I remember having a meeting with my team, and one of my architects said he would be careful of whatever he says around me because I could embarrass him by correcting him in his own field. Laughs
Where do you intend to see yourself in the next five years?
Ok. In the next 5 years, I should be able to produce everything I use in building houses: producing cement, block, paint, steel doors. I already produce my paint. We also mold our blocks. So we had already worked out with a South American company for a turnkey project in cement production. We have discussed with government in 2012. We wanted to site it in the north but due to the unrest we now want to take it to Edo state, where there is some deposits of lime stone.
Whatever you want to do just put you mind towards its achievement and remain focused. So try to keep things simple.
Thanks for your time!
You are welcome.