interview of Mr. N. Kumar, Group Executive Director, Geepee Industries
Ltd on the plan to produce HDPE pipes and floaters in Nigeria.
Mr. N. Kumar, Group Executive Director, Geepee
Mr. N. Kumar is one of the new generation of top management
of of Geepee Industries Ltd, the renown makers of quality water tanks
and other plastic products. As the Group Executive Director, he oversees
administration, production and marketing as well as other critical assignments
for such a leading company in the economy of Nigeria. In this interview,
he narrates the active history of the company in Nigeria, the bouquet
of 250 plastic products by the company and the pace of introduction
of new products into the market, such as an ongoing project to begin
the production of direly needed HDPE pipes, floaters and other dredging
accessories in their Nigerian factories. Excerpts:
DDH: Please give us a brief history of Geepee Industries activities
in Nigeria so far?
Mr. Kumar: Geepee Industries is almost four decades old in Nigeria.
We are one of the pioneers in Nigeria in the plastic moulding. We have
factory at Ota and have sister concerns at Ota, Kano, Asaba and at Aba.
Predominantly we are in the plastics but there are other products as
well. Geepee Tanks are a household name and we are the leaders in Africa.
We make the largest type of tanks, which is the 30,000 litres capacity,
nobody else makes that size.
DDH: In the whole of Africa?
Mr. Kumar: Yes, in the whole of Africa. Not only that, we have plans
to do 50,000-litre capacity.
DDH: Is there demand for it?
Mr. Kumar: Yes, there is demand. Large Tanks are very useful for construction
sites, housing estates, agricultural users, fire fighters, water storage,
corporate offices and other places. So, instead of small tanks everywhere
which occupy a lot of space as well, they use the large tanks. We launched
these big tanks since the last 5 years. The capacities are 30,000, 25,000,
20,000, 15,000 and 10,000. Now we are going to build up to 50,000. Our
current full range is from 500 to 30,000 liters.
DDH: When you say you are the number 1 in Africa, how do you know?
Mr. Kumar: We have tank capacity data. In tanks and plastic processing,
Geepee is among the large ones.
DDH: What are the raw materials for your productions?
Mr. Kumar: We use many types and grades of raw materials such as polyethylenes,
polypropylenes, and variety of other materials for all applications.
P.E.T. is used to produce the transparent and tinted bottles and Jars
for various applications.
DDH: Are all these raw materials sourced in Nigeria or imported?
Mr. Kumar: In Nigeria, there is only one company, that is, Eleme Petrochemicals
in Port Harcourt, who make and supply selected grades. The ones which
they are not producing, we have to import.
DDH: Is there any way to avoid /reduce imports?
Mr. Kumar: Unless more basic infrastructural industries in the country
from oil and gas, are established [locally]. As on now only Indorama
Petrochemicals is established. Now it is known that the Dangote Group
is also going to set up one.
DDH: Was Geepee Industries originally from India or Indonesia?
Mr Kumar: It is originally from Nigeria.
DDH: That's nice to hear. How was the business started?
Mr. Kumar: Our current chairman's father came from India to Nigeria
in the early 1960s and they established business and then forayed into
the manufacturing. Now, it's over forty-plus years and the third generation
of the owners is in the saddle.
DDH: What are your product range and scope?
Mr. Kumar: Geepee and sister concerns have many household, industrial
and commercial products. We are into the industrial products like pipes
and pipe fittings, ACP sheets (aluminum composite sheets) used for cladding
and outer surfaces of buildings, the Alumax brand. Now, we have forayed
into the Steel pre fabricated structures as well.
DDH: Such good news has not been well-reported!
Mr. Kumar: We simply do our work in people’s favour, by which
people recognise us.
DDH: Are you in the exports as well?
Mr. Kumar: Meeting domestic demand has been our first priority thus
far. We have built capacities and now it is the right time to make forays
in to the export markets.
DDH: Now, these multiple products, how do you programme their production
and introduction into the market?
Mr. Kumar: In every concern, designated certain products are designated
to be made. But the tanks are being produced at all locations because
it's a bulky product to transport. So, we have north, south, south-East
and at Ota. The companies have distributors all over, so that customers
don't have to spend much on the transportation. Similarly, other bulky
products are pipes. Hence in Aba, Kano and Ota, the companies produce
them. Plus, each concern has different divisions which cater to different
product lines. Every company is independent in its operations. They
plan their production. They plan their marketing strategy and run their
units independently. At corporate office, corporate affairs are addressed.
DDH: How did Geepee Industries manage the timing and introduction of
the multiple products into the Nigerian market over the years?
Mr. Kumar: We do a lot of market surveys. Our Chairman and we ourselves
travel to many places. We see the trends and products newly introduced
in these places which could be useful in Nigeria. After careful consideration
and development these products are introduced. Also many Nigerians travel
abroad, see things and sometimes they bring samples and discuss with
us for development. Secondly, there are two things in the marketing.
One is what the market currently needs, which we fulfill. Two, we have
to really assess what are the future perceived needs of the people,
which they may not need it today they may not even know it. But if you
can identify those perceived needs of the people, either today or for
the future then start working on those products to develop. We have
to keep innovating and developing to keep ahead of competition. However
users' inputs are vital in this and has to be taken and requires working
in collaboration. It's like what we are embarking on now with developing
HDPE pipes, Floaters, etc. for the Dredging industry. This will help
Dredging industry as it will be an Import Substitution venture. They
can avoid import of bulky products, import procedures, foreign exchange,
large and long inventory holding, procurement time running into months
etc. Then it provides flexibility of tailor – made specifications
as well as to emergency requirements. Customers can overcome and avoid
their problems and handicaps associated with imports by associating
with us. We offer these kinds of advantages and benefits to our customers
and potential customers
DDH: What is the level of after sales service in your organization?
Mr. Kumar: Yes we provide prompt quality and technical pre-sale and
after-sale services to our customers. Our qualified, skilled and trained
engineers and technicians are assigned this function. Many customers
may not be very proficient in installing and using standard practices
in the best possible way. We provide technical services and user's guide
and make personal visits to guide, help and train the customers' people.
It is particularly important in Industrial Products to avoid damage
and to ensure long life.
DDH: Now that you have decided to go into manufacturing of HDPE pipes
Floaters and other accessories, how did you arrive at your decisions?
Mr. Kumar: We do market research and talk to the users. We did this
for Dredging industry. We found your details on internet. We already
have expertise in large diameter pipes, materials being used and have
technologies & machines. It is a natural extension for us. We have
technically-skilled people for the development. Our sister concerns
have capacities at Ota, Asaba, Aba, and can utilize wherever it is closer
to the customer to their advantage.
DDH: Has your management made up its mind about sizes and other specifications?
Mr. Kumar: We have had surveys, preliminary discussions with some dredgers
and have visited the sites. We have also gone through international
specifications and practices. However more information will be taken
with extensive contact with the customers and organizations like yours
to finalize. In an interactive forum we can appraise them about our
capabilities and will invite to visit our factories. Once the requirements
are finalized then it's a matter of three to six months' time and we
shall be ready to manufacture and supply products of their choice.
DDH: I see that this move to produce pipes and floaters in-country could
be something that would add extra potential capacity to the local dredging
industry especially because of the current economic constraints…
Mr. Kumar: Surely it will. It's a time to think differently and out
of the box and realign Nation's strategies, priorities, specially in
conservation of Foreign Currencies. What can be produced with in the
country should be encouraged to be produced in the country. All those
developing countries which have come to certain stage now in last 30/40
years have done similar things. Such Policies will encourage investments
in infrastructure industries and skill development. When infrastructure
industries get set up, small and medium industries proliferate. Such
endeavors will improve GNP, conserve foreign exchange and will generate
much needed employment in the country.
DDH: What quality standards has Geepee Industries achieved over the
years that give you confidence that your installed factory capacity
can produce pipes and floaters that will compete well with the imported
Mr. Kumar: The quality is our Strength, one that keeps us above the
rest. We follow the industry and the Nigerian standards. Our motto is
Business through Quality and Service and Customers Prosperity is Our
Business. We have an established quality assurance department and we
are a certified ISO 9001 company on the Quality Systems. On the systems,
materials, equipment, processes and technologies side we are very clear
DDH: Do you do your own designs here in-country?
Mr. Kumar: Yes, we do. At the same time we work closely with our moulds,
dies and tooling suppliers on designs. On these, we are aligned with
reputed organizations internationally. Work starts only after the designs
and drawings are approved.
DDH: So as per competition with imported pipes, there doesn't seem to
be any fear?
Mr. Kumar: Not at all. We don't have any fear. We already work with
international standards. We shall overcome the difficulty, if any, comes
along the way. Actually as a local manufacturer, we offer so many advantages
to the customers. For example steep reduction in bulk transportation
costs in imports, import problems, foreign exchange issues, inventory
holding, lead time of procurement, blockage of funds, flexibility, et
al. We have the flexibility so that instead of a 12m pipe, if you want
a 15m pipe, we can give you. If you want a 10m pipe we can give you.
If you want diameter variation, we can do that. If you want colour we
can add that.
DDH: Now, the high component of imported inputs which is currently 60%,
do you have any long range plans to encourage Indorama to produce in-country?
Mr. Kumar: Yes, of course. We inform them our requirements. It will
be great as they develop and supply more and more grades.
DDH: Perhaps the Dangote Petrochemical plant may bridge the gap…?
Mr. Kumar: Any extra capacity will do that. Crude petroleum and Natural
gas are our indigenous products and in abundance. Their better utilization
will help all.
DDH: What are other related marine products that you do?
Mr. Kumar: In other related marine products, we have Floating Docks,
which you can connect to make floating platforms, Jetties and walkways.
These floating docks, are also used in large-scale Cage Fish Farming.
Also, for Aquaculture, we have various sizes of end-user tanks ranging
from 500 liters to 5,000 liters for fingerlings and further developmental
stages till they are transferred to the larger pools. We have insulated
containers, 500 liters to 2,000 liters. Ice and Fish is kept into these
for preservation during transportation, storage up to the point of sale
DDH: Then are there any more advantages of producing HDPE pipes and
floaters in Nigeria, which although you have touched on in passing you
can also make more points if you have… How is it going to further
your corporate vision and mission in Nigeria?
Mr. Kumar: Our mission of the company is the prosperity of the Nation
and service to the people for their needs. We have our objectives defined
that we have to continuously develop new products, to cater to the needs
of the masses as well as the classes, to cater to the needs of the industrial
sector as well as consumer sector. Dredging pipes, floats and accessories
are the need in Nigeria. Dredging industry is big in Nigeria and is
getting bigger. If everything is imported, it takes time, it takes more
money, it takes foreign exchange, it has many negatives. All that can
be avoided. We are here to cater to the needs of the people and industry
and convert negatives in to positives.
DDH: So, what is your staff strength like and how do you manage human
Mr. Kumar: Our staff strength is good. We have large Nigerian technical
staff and few technical expatriates who train and transfer the skills
to the staff. We recruit good people through various means. Locally,
people around the factories are recruited and then are trained in various
skills and operations.
DDH: In terms of their training, how do you train?
Mr. Kumar: They are all trained in-house by skilled technical staff.
Training experts are outsourced as well.
DDH: In terms of understanding the technology by the local people, technology
transfer, would you say it has taken place?
Mr. Kumar: Yes, it has taken place and it is a continuous process.
DDH: When your staff retire, what do they become? Do they just go home
and waste? (General laughter).
Mr. Kumar: So far few have retired because when they started they were
quite young. By the time they retire from a company like ours, they
are quite well off and the retirement benefits are also quite substantial,
including pension benefits. If they plan and invest properly, they can
live a comfortable life.
DDH: In any case, they could also become dealers of Geepee products?
Mr. Kumar: Yes, they can. If people want to do that, we are always there
to help them.
DDH: Do you have any other comments you want to chip in?
Mr. Kumar: Geepee Industries has developed indigenously in Nigeria from
the scratch, with promoter's vision and mission. There is continued
confidence in Nigeria and now the third generation is here. There is
absolute commitment on the part of the Management of the company for
the development in the country and to make life better for the general
public and give the industry the advantages of local manufacturing.
We bring technology and establish it over here. We will continue to
do that and are sure to get full support from all quarters. We are so
proud that many of our customers are with us since beginning and their
3rd generations are also still with us. We are so ever grateful to our
customers who have been with us in thick and thin and giving us their
continued support. The Management and our sales and technical staff
maintain a personal rapport with all customers on day-to-day basis.
I am happy to say that our customers feel comfortable to contact any
of us any time for any thing and it gives us pleasure to attend to them.
To the Dredging industry we are promising a whole new relationship.
We commit ourselves to work very closely to understand and fulfill their
needs. We have facilities, technologies, skills and wither vitals what
it takes to do and are willing to do what it requires further. We are
even open to looking at areas other than plastics, which, actually,
we are already doing in some industries.
DDH: And during the proposed interactive session with operators, am
sure there will be lot of inputs and suggestions coming from them…
Mr. Kumar: I am very sure and positive about it. We look forward to
the interactive session with them. Thank you very much.