I Left Banking For Bricklaying
Kehinde Muibi, 28, is the founder of a construction company, Destiny Crest Limited. He tells TOLUWALOPE KAREEM how he started working as a bricklayer, his entrepreneurship journey and his vision for the real estate industry.
What are your educational qualifications?
I have a National Diploma in Mathematics and Statistics. I also have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, and a Master’s degree in Project Management. I have also taken online courses in Project Management Science. Having degrees in different fields makes me fulfilled.
What motivated you to start a construction company, considering the intricacies of the real estate business in Nigeria?
I was motivated by the passion I had for it. After my secondary school education, I realised I had a passion for bricklaying and site construction. So, I went to a man who wanted to build a shopping complex at the time and told him I would work on the project and all he had to do was feed me. However, we agreed on a daily pay of N200. We went on to complete the project in five months. Although it was not the best construction job, it was a stepping stone and a wonderful experience for me.
From there, I moved to a company that sold building materials and I spent six months there since higher institutions were on strike at the time. During that period, I had conversations with engineers, developers, builders and other professionals in the industry. My relationship with them and the lessons I got from our conversations stirred my interest in starting a construction company. I started the construction business four years ago but my company was incorporated in 2018.
What were some of the factors that shaped you into who you are?
I lost my father shortly after I got admitted into the higher institution. I then became the breadwinner of the family. I became a construction worker because things got so tough in the family and we could hardly feed. By doing menial jobs, I was able to fund my education in the polytechnic. While in school, week days were for studying, while at weekends, I worked as a bricklayer and mathematics tutor.
After I got my National Diploma, I worked with a bank on contract basis. After working with the bank for a year, I wrote an examination and transitioned to a full-time employee. I spent six years at the bank but it wasn’t my dream, so I started developing a business plan for my construction company right from there.
How were you able to secure your first contract?
The first contract I got was through a friend. The job was to design a building plan. When I delivered the job, it was beyond the expectations of the client. Because of how good the job was, the client offered me the complete building project to manage. In a short time, the building was also ready. The client was very impressed with the work and he actually gave me additional payment. It was an eye opener for me. I was amazed that I could make so much money so easily. That then resuscitated my interest in the construction industry.
How were you able to convince big brands to become your clients?
I believe that results don’t lie. After working on the Sugarland Estate project in 2018, my confidence and creativity improved. Since then, I have worked on several other exceptional projects. We are particular about what we deliver to our clients. Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, renowned companies in Abuja have offered us jobs, choosing us over older construction companies.
How have you been able to raise funds, which is required to run a successful construction company?
I believe in possibilities and that belief system has made me the entrepreneur I am today. I have maintained good relationships with my clients, and in return, they have connected me to so many investors and financial institutions. We don’t underestimate any project or client, irrespective of how insignificant it appears. We always take on contracts with the mindset of delivering excellent results. Despite the continuous increase in the prices of building materials, we always deliver. That often affects our project margin but integrity and trust are more important to us than profit.
What is the biggest risk you have ever taken in the course of running your business?
I believe everyone would, at one point or the other, have to take their fair share of risks that could either make or break them. For me, starting a company was a risk on its own. Every project also comes with risks because they have to be completed despite whatever challenges we may encounter. In some instances, I had to complete some projects with my money.
How do you keep abreast of global trends in design?
New designs emerge daily and to catch up with the trends, I visit different blogs and international platforms. However, the location of a building mostly determines the design one would employ, rather than global trends.
What sets your company apart from the competition?
We are not a regular construction company. We take the welfare of our employees very importantly. That was why I devised a work shift method for our engineers and other workers. They are humans, and no matter how strong they may claim to be, they should not be treated like machines.
We plan to take the construction industry to another level by creating a foundation for our workers. The foundation would cater to their needs and that of their families and provide them with food when they are working, and protect the interest of their families (through insurance) against accidents that may occur on the job.
What is your staff strength?
The business has provided employment opportunities for engineers and construction workers. Right now, we have eight engineers, four administrative staff and over 200 site workers in our employ.
What do you do for fun?
I like going to the beach alone. I also read books and watch comedy skits because they relax me. I am a fan of Pastor Sam Adeyemi and motivational speakers such as Fela Durotoye and the late Ubong King.
Have you ever engaged in any philanthropic act?
Presently, there are nine students on fully funded academic scholarships, which I bankroll, and I have pledged to train them to the university level.
What were the criteria used to choose the beneficiaries of the scholarships?
I look out for struggling families and help them to carry the educational burden of their children. I have gone through hard times, so it is easy for me to identify with people that need help. I also pay house rent for people who cannot afford it.
How does your academic background help in the business you do now?
I still apply the things I learnt in school, as well as my banking experience. I apply relevant ideas to my business and that is one of the things that have been helping me.
What advice do you have for youths as regards entrepreneurship?
Be ready to face the mountains before you; be on the lookout for new things; and let challenges move you to success, rather than deter you.