: The secret of Tony Ezenna's
...The story of Chief Tony Ezenna, the Chairman of Orange Drugs, one of the biggest names in drugs sales, importation and later manufacturing is that of grass to grace.
Once, at his
Lagos head office at Ilupeju
, two journalists interviewed Ezenna
, better known as Ikenga. He
actually obliged the interview that afternoon sometime in the first quarter of 2003, but like one who woke up from a deep sleep, he
was to call the senior of the journalists to ask that the interview be dropped.He
never likes press publicity but rather strategises to take his
in any public function, especially during the re-branding of his
products at Sheraton, Ikeja last year many never actually got to know who he
believes in lying low.He
was always there at the function but was only known when introduced.To him publicity is a bore and worst of all a distraction to business.
has expanded his
empire to manufacturing, having scored great point for being a major distributor to over 14 companies in USA and Asia, and major marketer of over 28 prime products.
Family manWhat he
has passion for is his
would tell you that he
married a very beautiful wife and would remain proud any day to brandish her
Like the story of the life of America's Sam Walton who was just your typical small town guy, and who had nothing to his
name, so also that of Ezenna
.All Walton had was a raw determination to give service and a rare marketing genius, possibly the greatest in modern entrepreneurial America to back it up.
Humble as all truly great men are wont to be, he
defied conventional Wall Street wisdom and started off his
retailing shop in semi-urban and rural America.His
corporate goal was not to look fanciful, it was not to concern himself with branding or pandering to Wall Street's fashionable waves.His
aim was simple - to sell literally at cost and transfer the savings as profit shared between him and the consumer.
Why we pick on Ezenna
is to prove that wisdom and genius is forever provenance free.And what the American did with a Walmart
we can fix with our national examples in Nigeria. Ezenna's story is as simple as all great tales that will endure.He
started off his
career after Higher School Certificate.He
was so bright he
was to head for the University, but difficult family circumstances and fortune forced him to take unto enterprise.
business grew and fortune smiled on him, Ezenna
achieved one remarkable feat.It was to transcend and overcome the Nigerian entrepreneurs temptation to mix up his
business and family expenses; thereby using up re-investible capital to spoil themselves a little.This will ruin the long term vision and prosperity of any business.
Value to the customerApart from this structural plank by which the young Ezenna, kept his
corporate ledgers away from personal expenses, he
achieved a Sam Walton style focus.It is the greatest passion in growing any business; the giving of the greatest value to your customer on his
every naira.Because Ezenna
business from the roots up to the branches he
had this instinctive understanding, that the market place is not a theatre, it is a field where buyers hunt for value.It is your great value against your customer's little naira.
Now unlike the horseriding wish of most unseasoned entrepreneurs, that branding dramatics is the magic and that branding is cost free, Ezenna
knew otherwise.That there are other channels, through which we can deliver, the greatest value chain to customers while saving costs.
Marketing unbeatableToday, Ezenna
, the Orange Drug CEO
has the vast and all pervasive market penetration of his
franchise products to show for it.From Delta Soap to Osram electrical fillings, Orange Group products have shown market dominance no other purely indigenous group has achieved.
As if to double-check, I asked around on Ezenna
.Professor J.A.E Obuekunie who keeps an eye on African, especially Nigerian enterprise and entrepreneurs spoke eloquently and perhaps most definitely. If, he
began, there is any marketer who knows Africa, that man is (Tony) Ezenna
.In fact, he
is something of Africa's indigenous Lever Brothers and Procter and Gamble
rolled into one.And the value edge is that he
is just coming to his
as entrepreneur also continually shuns that which is merely fanciful and goes for the substantial…avoids the peripherals and goes for the core values.He
comes as one with the most gifted global businessman acumen I have seen, from Sam Walton to Branson.He
is focused on his
business and then on a second line obsession of delivering best services value to customers.For these great men of enterprise, the magic of branding is in value.Deliver value, stupid.And yet more value.
PR distracts himPossibly Ezenna
is not the only Nigerian who started small and made big, but he
is definitely amongst the select few who are focused on world class attitudes to their businesses.And also like the very best of them, he
knows that PR and razzmatazz not only take money, they can distract the entrepreneur from his
core purpose which is giving more value at increasingly lower costs.Today Orange Group
is transformed into a world class and enduring corporation.
has done it, in fact his
international headquarters is located in Boston, U.S.A.