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Comprising 20-inch DAMEN dredger (3 year-old), 18-inch DAMEN dredger, 1 Minicat, 1 Multicat, 2 kilometeres of pipeline, 2 containers of equipment and spares such as hoses, floaters and ancillary gears.

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Exclusive 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 Industries Ltd.

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 stuff?

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 and sound.

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 and deliveries.

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 capacity development?

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.


Venue: Beverly Hills Hotel, Port Harcourt.
River State.

Date: October 14-16, 2015.

To download registration form, click here.
To download event infosheet, click here.
For more information see Event Web Page.


How will the Dredging Industry fare during the Economic Downturn?

The dominant trend in today’s world is the global economic challenges of tumbling crude oil prices. For mono-crop economies such as Nigeria, the prescription seems to be unanimous that agriculture and the solid mineral sector offer the best promises for diversification. However, how will the dredging industry fare under such uncertain scenarios?
There is no gainsaying the fact that some trends of economic growth and expansion arising from population explosion will continue to benefit states like Lagos and neighbouring Ogun state, because of the former’s status as a megacity and the biggest maritime gateway for Nigeria. The latter is a beneficiary of the spillover effect of the enlargement of the Lagos megalopolis. Read More...


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Dredging Law:
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c. An Extract Of The Law To Provide For The Regulation Of Waterfront Infrastructure Development In Lagos State.



To be launched at the 9th Nigerian Dredging Summit and Exhibition, Port Harcourt, October 14th, 2015.

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