Home Feature We produce enough marble slabs for Nigeria – Manufacturer

We produce enough marble slabs for Nigeria – Manufacturer

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Mr Richard Ogu is Head, Business Development, OFL Marble and Granite Limited, a manufacturer of dimension stones, sourced from Nigerian marble and granite rocks. He spoke with Viewpoint Housing News in Abuja, saying being Africa’s largest producer of dimension stones, the company has capacity to meet market demands…

Viewpoint: What does OFL Marble and Granite Limited do?

Ogu: It’s a dimension stones producing company. By dimension stones, I mean natural stones that have been quarried around Nigeria and moved to factories where they’re cut into slabs, others cut into tiles and other articles. Natural stones are cut and polished then dimensioned into different slabs and tiles and are used as building materials for the construction industry. We’re Africa’s largest producer of dimension stones.

Viewpoint: What has been the response of builders to your product?

Ogu: We’ve had a good impact on the Nigerian market. As at 2015, Nigeria had a demand of 4 million square metres of dimension stones annually and only five percent of that demand was met by manufacturers in the country.

We came on board in 2015 and we can proudly say that today, we’ve met that demand by almost half. We do over 4 million square meters of dimension stones annually and we’ve been able to reduce the import demand. A lot of people in the construction industry have been patronizing us. What we’ve been able to do is reduce the prices. Importing into the country plus the duty and everything makes marbles, granite very expensive.

Currently, we’ve reduced that price and made these natural stones readily available for the Nigerian market.

Viewpoint: There has always been preference for imported materials…

Ogu: People prefer foreign materials because they don’t know what they have in the country. We have about eight quarries in Nigeria. We have in Nasarawa, Kogi States and even in the FCT [Federal Capital Territory].

The quality and beauty of our stones can’t be rivaled anywhere in the world. The strength of stones we have is so wonderful. We’ve been to different fairs around the world. When people see the quality and beauty of our natural stones, they wonder.

We did some market surveys and saw that some retailers buy stones from us and say that these stones are imported. They say that they got the stones from Italy, China.

It’s more of an awareness issue, not a preference issue. People don’t know that Nigerian dimension stones are one of the best in the world. We’re trying to raise awareness: we have the best stones at the best prices.

marble and granites dining table

Viewpoint: Are buyers satisfied with your prices?

Ogu: Production in Nigeria is very high because there’s poor electricity. Manufacturers burn lots of  diesel and then pay overhead. By the time you put all that together, the prices will go up.

That’s why we went into partnership with the Chinese investors. We produce in bulk, and the prices drop. We’re using Chinese equipment. This has helped us reduce prices.

Of course, the economy of sale — once we produce in bulk, as I say, we produce over 4 million square meters annually, we can trade on small margin but still be very profitable.

Viewpoint: Your work requires very heavy machinery. How are you dealing with that?

Ogu: The challenge we had from the beginning was equipment breakdown. Whenever equipment break down, we always had down time of a month to two months because it’s difficult to get visa for Chinese men to come to fix the machines. That’s why we brought them in. So they’re readily available, they’re fixing and downtime is reduced.

Viewpoint: Heavy building materials shouldn’t be sourced so far away from construction site. Do you deal with that?

Ogu: Yes. That’s why we’ve opened three factories around the country. We have one in Nasarawa, close to the FCT where a lot of building and construction work happens. From our factory in Uke in Karu to the center of town [Abuja] is between 30 and 45 minutes.

If a builder places an order, you can get your product delivered in a few days. We have logistics partners. They deliver your product in record time. That has solved the problem of timing and distance from building materials for construction workers and construction site.

We have a factory in Ondo State which takes care of the south-west areas. We have one in Lokoja [Kogi State] which is central. That factory can handle the market in the south-east, the north and even the west.

However, it should be known that our products are not to be produced close to settlements because of environmental impact. What we do to get our products to the end users is to have depots in different locations. The depot will move it from the factory to the site. The end user can get the product from the depot. We have depots in all the states.

Viewpoint: Do you look at installation problem? There has been problem of unqualified artisans in Nigeria. Have you considered getting your products properly installed?

Ogu: We have groups that do installation. But we still have installers we work with and are very good. Whoever buys from us and wants us to introduce an installer, we recommend. We recommend the best for our customers.

marbel and granite kitchen fitting

Viewpoint: What word would you pass to developers and the general public?

Ogu: I  would like Nigerian developers to know that OFL is really building the Nigerian dream. It hasn’t been easy over the past two years. We have been able to bring out Nigeria’s natural stones – we’ve been able to show the world the beauty of Nigerian natural stones.

They’re in the market. We encourage them to patronize us as against using imported marbles and granite or quartz. They can patronize Nigerian company that has quality products at the most cost competitive prices and are very durable for all grading projects. We also guarantee efficiency in delivery and customer service.

We encourage government to also make policies to encourage local manufacturers. There was a promotion last year: Buy Naija to Grow the Naira. This should be implemented. Policies should be made to support local manufacturers to help our businesses grow. That will translate to the growth of the economy.

Our company has employed over 500 Nigerians and is growing every day because we’re looking for near quarries and we’re looking forward to adding varieties.

As people patronize, revenues grow and we can employ. And this translates to economic growth.

Whatever volume of granite tiles you’re looking for, you can get in Nigeria. No need to import. Our factory produces over 4,000 square meters every day. This goods are here. Why do you go outside to import?

You go to China, Spain, Britain to import, these things don’t come cheap. You can get this product here locally made for as low as N4,000 per square meter and can even go lower than that, depending on the volume…

We own three granite processing factories in Nigeria. We have licences for eight quarries which we operate around the country. From our quarries, we can do 1,500 cubic meters of blocks.

OMG [OFL Marble and Granite Ltd] went into partnership with some Chinese technicians, Chinese investors and came up with Fujian Stone.

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