The holy bible said, ‘’Seeth thou a man diligent in his work, he shall stand before kings, and not ordinary men’’. This has been the lot for the Chief Executive Officer of E & C Logistics Company Limited, Chief Johnmary N.C. Anagolu. With over twenty years in business, the Eze Si Na Chi 1 of Olo Kingdom, shares with ZEBRA NEWS, his grass to grace story, and how he founded his Nigeria based and internationally recognized logistics firm, with offices in Africa, United Arab and China. EXCERPTS!
Can We Meet You Sir?
My name is Mr Johnmary C.N. Anagolu, I am the Chief Executive Officer, E & C Logistics Company Limited. I am also known as Eze Si Na Chi 1 of Olo Kingdom, that’s my title name, any Igbo man without title is incomplete business man. I am from Olo in Ezeagu local government area, Enugu State.
How Did Business Started For You?
I started my hustle right from my childhood, it’s not something that started today, it’s like a gift. Although, while growing up, I had wanted to become a lawyer, I remember when I was nine years old, I wrote Barrister Gbogbo on our door. In school, they nicknamed me Gbogbo, because my elder brother’s name is Ogbonna, and the short form is Gbogbo, I had thought I will be able to further my education and become a lawyer, but God had a better plans for me.
So What Happened, How Did You End Up a Businessman, Instead of a Lawyer?
Growing was challenging, problems here and there, our parents have to struggle to ensure there’s food on the table, in the process, our education became impossible, so I had to join my peers in Lagos. My former boss, Mr Yakasson brought me to Lagos in 1994, I was with him for six solid years, there I realized that been an apprentice was another form of education. I learned the act of trading, how to attend and treat customers. So while all this was going on, I still had plans to go back to school, probably, when I become my own boss, eventually, he settled me in the year 2000, so this is my 21 years in business.
Still on How He Became a successful businessman, Instead of a Lawyer?
So I was also studying part-time during my year of apprenticeship, but you know, it’s not always easy for someone who was just newly settled, we were into gas business, things got so tough I had to ventured into electronics business, I remembered when I had to wake-up as early as possible, attend morning mass and then set out to buy goods from newly arrived container, it wasn’t easy at all, infact, I had to return to my first business, but the unfortunate thing at the time was that, I was out of capital, I had to start running around to raise capital, I met a friend, asked him to borrow me some money, he helped, I was able to rent a shop, I met another man, who was able to help with some gas products to display, sell and return the money to pick another goods.
How I Switched Business Again In 2002?
In 2002, phone accessories became an item in the market, so I raised some money, traveled to Dubai and bought some mobile phone accessories, brought them to Nigeria and sold them, I did this successfully until I had another challenge, I had given my goods to a cargo company called Swizz Cargo, there was a ten months delay, by the time the goods landed in Nigeria, they were already damaged, that was how I landed in some debt, I lost so much, I had wanted to give up, I have some boys working for me, I was feeding and clothing them, I decided I am not going to send them away, so I started hustling again.
Having to Rebrand And Package Myself?
After sometime, I was able to raise 20,000 naira, I took the money to an Alhaji in Alaba International, I asked him to make me some Agbada, he eventually did three pieces for me, so I started to rebrand and package myself. I will then go to people’s shop and pretended I am the Oga, when I see customers, I will asked them what they want, having told them I am the Oga, they tell me what they want to buy, I will them advise them and help them get it. So I realized that the only way I can survive was by telling customers the truth. After some time, customers started coming, I raised some funds and started manufacturing local burners, I started doing well that field too, until I was frustrated out of the business again by some ungrateful customers.
Moving to Dubai?
So after all these failed hustles and challenges, I decided I am leaving Nigeria for good, but there was nobody to help. So I started hustle again, don’t forget, I have boys I was taking care of, paying rent etc, it was really tough. Eventually I raised some money, but had to face another challenge with the person helping me with the traveling document for China, he gave me an option to either travel to China with another person’s identity or start the traveling process again, I refused to travel with another person’s name, after all said and done, I got visa to Dubai, I did not feel bad because, I was already familiar with Dubai, I got to UAE and started hustling again.
Settling In Dubai And How Logistics Business Started?
It wasn’t easy settling in Dubai, especially getting a job. People already knew me there as customer, so coming as someone seeking for a job was somehow funny to them. I have to peer up with about eighteen boys in a single room, before finally getting menial job, I was helping people to pack goods, A very good friend, Mr Patrick gave me the first opportunity to work for him, he is still my customer till today, I had to add creativity and honesty to my service, and before you know, people started trusting me with their products, I applied several tactics, including customers satisfaction, from there, people started recognizing me in the business, I started asking people who want to buy and send goods from Dubai to Nigeria, that’s how the business of logistics started for me, business was booming, everything going on fine until 2008, recession sets in, it was another challenging time for business owners in Dubai, so our people moved to China, before then, I also had another problem with my cargo agent, it was a serious battle, yet, I couldn’t recover the thousands of dollars he was owing me, money that doesn’t belong to me, that also forced me to switched business again, I moved back to Nigeria, I started buying food stuffs, take them to Dubai and sell, that was another business God favored me, till today, I still have my food stuffs business in UAE. With various branches all over Africa and the rest of the world, E&C Logistics became what it is today as a result of God’s grace and hard work. A special thanks to my wife, who has been a strong supporting system, spiritually, physically and morally. you can see her office, she is a full time partner in progress. Some of our branches are in Trade Fair, Lagos Island, Alaba International Market, Oshodi, Ikeja, we are also available in Onitsha International Market. In Africa, we are in Ghana and Mozambique, also in Dubai and China.
Giving back to the society?
Apart from my food stuffs and logistics business, I also do what you called motivational speaking, considering what I went through, I understand there are many young people who want to come into business, so o offer them motivation on how and what to do, so as not to go through what I went through, I do this by organizing motivational seminars, I started it seven years ago, since then, we have been able to motivate over a hundred young people in business, both new and established ones. There’s also one we called “Importer’s Best Friend” although it’s just five months old, it’s a platform we used in educating business owners on how to build their money, we make them understand how important it is for them to always tell customers the truth, no matter what, a good name with integrity is what will make you and your business last the test of time, when you lie to a customer, you end up losing them on the long run and even you ruined your reputation. We also have platform where we cater for children and widows, during the COVID-19 era, we roll out loads of food stuffs, including money. This we also do with our annual end of the year Christmas party, which we always organize in our home town for children, we give out different educational gifts, food items among others. Although my beautiful wife is the brain behind it, we are passionate about giving back to the society, because we understand what it means to struggle hard without anyone to help.
Unlike Many Igbos, Why Did You Decided to Bring Your Wife Into Your Business Fully?
You see the problem with most Igbos is that they hard consider involving their wives in their businesses, as an Igbo man, we prefer our wives to have her own business, this I try to correct, by telling those who care to listen that times have change, gone are the days, when women are kept in the kitchen. We must ensure we get our wives involved in our daily to day hustle, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying other men should not follow their mind, but I think we are in a 21st century, our women deserves better, a man will die and you will start hearing or seeing cases of harassment from the in-laws, so in other to avoid that, try and get her involve, I am a one man one woman type of man, I don’t encourage too many wives.