Enugu-based automobile entrepreneur Ugwu Nnamdi, who deals in renovating and upgrading old vehicles, talks with TEMITOPE ADETUNJI about his motivation and work
It was reported on social media that he turned an old abandoned vehicle into an expensive modern vehicle. Can you talk about that?
My name is Ugwu Nnamdi from Oba in Enugu State, I am 35 years old and married. I live in Enugu with my family. I’m into car improvement and have been in the business for years. I used to visit some of the car companies abroad to see how it is done there. So when I returned to Nigeria, I decided to set up my own business and see how I could also create job opportunities for the youth.
I must say it was a rough start but all the glory be to God. It’s not easy to be creative actually. Turning old cars into new ones to give them a better shape and design is beautiful, but researching and getting an idea of what you really want to do is a difficult process. It was a business he had wanted to do for a long time.
Where did you learn the skill?
I learned it in Indonesia.
Where did you get the idea?
I must say that it is something to which God himself opened my mind. He gave me the idea. Everything happened as God wanted it. I put God first and then everything started to work.
It’s not like the business is something I stumbled upon by chance. I started running the business after traveling out of the country and back.
What is your academic background?
I am a Bachelor of Science holder from Enugu State University. I studied Business Administration and graduated in 2006.
What year did you start your business?
I started in 2018 but officially qualified as a registered company in 2020. My workshop is located at Mechanic Village, Nsukka.
How much did it cost you to start the business?
I started the business with N100,000.
How much do you earn monthly from the business on average?
The N100,000 I told you about was from 2018 when I was operating the business by myself, but today I have a registered company that has more than 30 professional employees working for me and getting wages every weekend, not monthly. So, I can’t accurately say how much I earn each month because it all depends on what type of job we get.
What do you do with reconditioned cars? Do you sell them?
I don’t really sell them; I update them to better and more beautiful designs. Sometimes conviction is needed to assure clients that I can deliver. I have upgraded cars for people and they are pleased with the results.
What happened to the Hilux vehicle in the trending video?
For the trending video on the internet, let me tell you about it. That Hilux had been parked in an auto shop for about five years. I told the owner that he could improve it and make it extremely beautiful compared to what he was. I also advised him to change the engine, so we proceeded with the restoration.
How much does it cost to upgrade a vehicle?
It depends. With N3.5m, a Sport Utility Vehicle (Toyota) Sequoia can be upgraded. It depends on the model of the car.
How many cars have you repaired so far?
There are many. I can’t give you a number.
How do you get replacement parts?
For spare parts, it depends on what customers want. I get the spare parts mainly from Dubai, I prefer to import them, especially for Hilux designs.
Do you have employees?
I have more than 30 workers and I pay them for their work, it is not an easy thing to do.
What were the challenges you faced when you started the business?
When you try to start something new, there will always be challenges. It will seem that it is something that will not be possible and all that. The challenge comes when the vehicle owner asks if you can really provide them with the quality and design they want at the highest level.
You will be asked how you will reshape their cars after taking them apart in the early stage, while some of my clients would doubt that it is possible. I remembered a car that I upgraded for one of my clients some time ago. At one point, I even had to beg the owner to stop coming to my shop because I felt it might damage his car. In the end, it turned out so beautiful that the customer was satisfied. Another challenging aspect is that in terms of price; It has not been easy to negotiate, especially with professors and students at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, who want to upgrade their cars.
What are the most significant things you have accomplished from the business?
I’ve gotten a bit far on this (vehicle upgrade). I have achieved beautiful things through this work. There hasn’t been time for me to complain about lack because I can comfortably take care of my family.
What else would you have done if you had not ventured into this business?
If I hadn’t ventured into this business, I would still have thought about importing cars. I love any car related business. I think I would have established such a business. As time passes, we will reach a stage in life where we can travel as far as we can.
What kind of feedback have you received from people about your work?
I must say that they are satisfactory comments; Even people who couldn’t afford to upgrade their cars give encouraging comments. Some of them told me that they were looking forward to doing business with him. And recently, I’ve been getting calls from people who want to upgrade their cars.
What is your ultimate plan? Can you see yourself establishing a vehicle assembly plant?
Of course, Innoson (Motors) didn’t just start today. I think that over time we will reach the stage of creating more job opportunities; a stage where we can accommodate up to 100 employees. I plan to have my business throughout the state. The biggest dream is to start manufacturing my brand of vehicles and selling them as Innoson.
I’m closer to that because this is my passion. The car business is something I love very much. We need constant energy and we are asking the government to help subsidize the electricity bills of the industries.
What can aspiring entrepreneurs in the automotive industry do to succeed in business?
My advice to young entrepreneurs is that no one can drive their business better than they can. If they really want to start something, they need to make sure that they are present and intentional about it. Delegating every function to people will leave them disappointed. Do your best and you will see God reward your efforts. I am a living witness that hard work pays.