Handsome real estate titan Oba Adetola Olaonipekun Olaniyi EmmanuelKing is the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Director of the ever rising property firm ADRON HOMES AND PROPERTY, an indigenous property firm with global reputation, the captain of the enviable firm is presently the Akile of Makun Sagamu, the title bestowed on him as a result of his jaw dropping developmental projects within and outside his community which usually announce the young billionaire everywhere he goes. It was an interesting exclusive media chat with PublicFaces Magazine crew at his Ibadan office that sits on the whole 16th floor of the heritage building COCOA HOUSE, IBADAN, he spoke about his systematic rise and rise, from an employee to employer of thousands of labour, read on…
Before the birth of Adron Homes, what were the things you had done?
I had worked with some couple of companies before ADRON Homes, I had worked with PHCN, Ibadan zone as a Station Marketing Manager from 2001 to 2008, thereafter I left to SIM Properties and Homes Limited in Magodo as the Assistant General Manager, Marketing and Operations. I left in 2009 to join Evermore Properties Investment Limited as an Executive Director, Operation and Marketing. I left after an incident, I was shot by armed robbers and I was in the hospital for months in 2011. So I had to leave because the doctor told me it would take up to a year before I could walk and as the Executive Director, Marketing and Operations, I was virtually the MD of the company, so I was relieved of my job on health grounds. Unfortunately, I was back on my feet by the fifth month and I had no choice than to start ADRON Homes and Properties Limited.
So, can we say it was that incident that gave birth to ADRON Homes?
Absolutely! It was that incident because I’ve never thought of it. Infact, when I was working with SIM Properties, some of my friends would say Tola, you are so good, start your own but I would say No, I am not cut out for that because I recognize that it’s not everyone that would become MD or CEO or owners of companies, all you have to do is just recognize your gift and your calling and purpose, so I used to tell people that I’m just a corporate titan in real estate. Give me a dying company and I would raise it up and that has been the golden media touch, the spirit of excellence and ability to revive have always been in me and I know that. Apparently, it was the incident that brought Adron Homes into existence, I’ve never planned it, in fact it was on the hospital bed that my wife had to open an account in the name of the company and I got the first cheque right on my hospital bed. It was the day I got relieved of my job that my first client who happened to be my golden client called, and said “Tola handle this for me”, I said, ‘sir, I’m still on the hospital bed’, “yes I know but you are a very good and truthful man, so I want you to handle this for me” and that was it.
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What was your experience when you were relieved of your job?
It was traumatic and I was going through a lot at that moment, so I was psychologically, physically and financially traumatized. I was the one making the company tick and right now, I am in the hospital and they felt they need to hire another executive director to continue the major operation of the company.
From being an employee to an employer of Labour, obviously you must have seen a clear difference in that. ADRON Homes has been employing massively since its inception, how?
Yes. There is dichotomy between being an employee and an employer. But those who wouldn’t experience the difference would be those who were acting as employers while they were employees. When I was at PHCN, SIM Properties, EvaMore, I have always been acting as the owner of the business, in fact, in my entire career as an employee, the only time I ever got queried and that a panel was set, was the only time that my staff at Evamore accused me that I act too much like the owner of the company. When the GMD says they shouldn’t do more than eight hours in a day, I would object and say sixteen hours, so they went ahead to report me to the GMD and even the GMD felt it is this guy’s word that rules, so he too was frightened, eventually the issue was resolved and the person that spearheaded the petition was sacked because the GMD had to apologize and said if he had more people like me, his organization would be far better. So, becoming the CEO and sitting on the affairs of ADRON Homes, I still act the same way. We won’t stop recruiting because of our vision, we are driven to become the biggest real estate development company in Nigeria, Africa and beyond and because of our mission and vision, we expand on a daily basis, we buy lands almost every day, as such, we need enough staff to work with. We have over seventeen branches in Nigeria and abroad, we have liaison offices in Dubai, United Kingdom and United State of America. We’ve had over a thousand staff in five years spread across the nation and beyond.
Are you looking at other places in Africa where you can also spread your tentacles too?
Of course, but first, we need to do a lot in Nigeria. We are in Nasarawa, Abuja, Ogun, Oyo, and Lagos states while we are also planning to be in all major states. We are moving to Imo state in the middle of the year, Owerri precisely, we will also be in Port Harcourt, Kano and Kaduna states between now and 2018; we’ll expand to five more states to make 10. For the west African countries, we’ve had a clarion call and a business view from Ghana, Liberia, South Africa and Gambia.
ADRON Homes is tilting towards entertainment, by organizing shows. What is the motive behind this and how do you make your money?
I wouldn’t want to answer this question because in Nigeria, we have a lot of copy cats. What I would say is we are using one stone to kill two birds; we are giving back to the people. All the people you see at our concerts are our customers, our clients; we use that to appreciate them. And if you notice, some of these events fall in festive periods or a particular day in the calendar of the year. Look at Valentine; if you are one of our customers, you are privileged to attend one of our first class concerts for free just because you bought a land from us
You have been creating more estates, which are the latest ones?
We have in Kuje, Central Parks and Gardens also in Ibadan, West Parks and Gardens. We are sited here in Ibadan office, barely one month old and we have about a hundred and twenty staff members.
Should we say ADRON Homes is made for a particular class in the society?
All classes. That is why we service the high, middle and lower classes in the society. So our products are tailored to service all classes.
It was once reported that you argued that Nigeria is not in a recession, can you buttress your point with reasons?
Yes, and I want to ask you a question, are you broke? I said its government that is broke and it obvious, from all the money we see around, from the one that is buried, some are kept in Ikoyi houses and the rest. Billions of naira that are supposed to be in the coffers of government is in the pockets of individuals, they are so many that are yet to be discovered. I am not saying something out of the blues, I am saying things that are obvious to everyone, it is only the government that is broke, Nigerians are not broke, they are building houses, buying latest cars, people are not dying on the road like in the case of Somalia, so what are we saying? Events and parties are happening every now and then. Even the Federal Government has come out to say that we are not in recession, that it’s just an economic restructuring that we need.
You donated a bus, and also renovated the premises of Sagamu local government. These coupled with other things you have done in your community, within and outside Ogun State, is it enough to say you are looking at politics in the future?
I would repeat what I have said severally which is, except you are telling me that politics is not about welfare, development, governance, then what am I doing? I am already doing the job of the government and that of a leader. Politics is all about Leadership, governance, welfare and that is what I am doing. But I understand that the definition of Politics in Nigeria is all about making money out of the community which I said I won’t be going into Politics with such mind. I can’t be this busy; I have my crystal clear vision of what I want to do. Ask the people about the street lights I gave to them, the road I am doing in Shimawa, 3.5 Kilometers, it was not the people that came to ask for it, I saw it and decided to fix it, I have a street light that leads to my house but I felt no, let it cut across the whole street and other neighbouring streets. So if you are asking whether I am going into politics, I am already doing the work of a politician.
So if you are called upon to sit on the most coveted seat in Ogun state, would you accept?
For now, I would say no because of the vision of where I am going and if in five years I only have six hours sleep in a day, imagine in the next 10 years, this company would have grown beyond expectation and maybe I would be struggling to sleep, 3 hours a day. I am in my early 40s, I am in my prime and before I could hand over to anyone, I am looking at when I’m in my early or mid 70s. That is about thirty active years. So I can’t because of that and start campaigning for a governorship seat, for me, it’s a diversion. We plan that within the next five years, we would have estate that would be given people houses free of charge, we’ll go under the bridges, slums and ghettos, get people who are homeless and put them in these houses free of charge.
You’ve had Kunle Afoloyan as your ambassador once, are you looking at another celebrity as your Brand ambassador soon?
Yes, very soon. My team is already working on that and once they pick that person, I’ll just approve of it.
So how do you balance work with home?
Well, my home is work, my work is home. My wife is a director and a co-owner of the company. Like I tell everyone, it was my wife that pushed me. She did everything then, she registered the company, she did the account opening, and now, we enjoy the job together. Like I said, my job is my home, my home is my job. And because we usually have one event or the other for our customers I also join them in relaxing and unwinding while I also monitor the business
Can you share with us the first time you made your first million and what was the experience like?
The first million came when I joined Sane Properties in 2008. Someone came to our company and said she needed a house in Magodo and I answered that we don’t do that but she insisted that I help her get it, so I went to see my boss and my boss declined the service. The woman then insisted that I should help get it done and I’ll pay you your fee. So I contacted few people and I saw a house being developed by Late MKO Abiola’s wife, Mrs Bola Abiola. I contacted her and then she said, Mr. King, if you help me to sell this house, I would give you a million naira, so within a month, the house was sold and then she gave me the one-million-naira cash. I have been working for about 10years then and I’ve never seen a million naira in cash, I’ve been paid some little sum of money in the range of #150,000, #250,00 and maybe in three months, I would say, oh, I’ve made a million naira but nobody has ever paid me a million naira. So that was my first million. When I got the cash, I called my wife and told her, the money actually came in on a Friday. Half of the money was later invested in Union homes and then my wife and I went shopping and bought new things for the weekend, let just say we had a second honey moon that weekend.
So if you are not doing property, what would you be doing?
Wow! I would be doing so many things because I seem to know a lot and my interests cut across so many things. If I am not doing property, I would be doing Fashion. I have a keen interest in fashion or possibly I will be an artist, a sculptor to be precise. It has helped my creativity in real estate, if you get to Manhattan, you will see the bulls on wall street, about six of them. I am artistic in nature.
Lemon and green seem to be your colour?
I love lemon, lemon talks about prosperity and green is life and they are both attractive. Strong and beautiful colour, it’s also the colour of Nigeria’s national flag, so I love it. Right from childhood.
Did you practise sculpting?
Yes, when I was in secondary school, in fact my dream then was to be a sculptor, I did a couple of abstract images with sculpting. And now you will see my estate dotted with sculptures.
How do you unwind?
Sincerely, speaking I barely have time but my job is quite exciting so I unwind while I do my job. For instance, if we are going to have an event and we are inviting Olamide, right there, making money, I am unwinding.
Your favourite food?
Anything delicious. No special meal but as long the meal is delicious, I love it.
Your words of advice for the youths?
They should be diligent and honest, because those two things are fast passing away in the life of our youth. Do your work with all your heart.