Olalekan Abdul-Rahaman Badmus is the Managing Director of Tuns International Limited, comprising Tuns Foods & Agro Allied, Tuns Farms and Tuns Satellite Town. Badmus, a graduate of Computer Science and Engineering, a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), also holds an MBA.
In this interview, he talks about his company’s participation in the Osun Elementary School Feeding and Health Programme, now known as O-MEALS, what it takes to manage an international organization like Tuns International Ltd, why Tuns decided to diversify and the organisation’s new line of business.
At what point did you assume duty as the MD of Tuns International Ltd?
That was 2011. At that time, we were on the verge of trying to do a lot of reorganization. It was at that time we started the low line of our business. We commenced with changing of our former business plan from when we used to raise the birds ourselves to commencing the Osun Broiler Outgrower Scheme. It was from there we metamorphosed to O-Meals. From O-Meals, we looked at experience we had during the bird flu, and we looked at how we could change our business from high risk areas to low risk areas.
First and foremost, what we did then was to stop layers birds and concentrate fully on broiler production, so that we could concentrate all our energy on broiler production rather than still doing egg.
After doing that, we had to look at our other areas of business. We started with something to add value to chickens we were doing and that was the introduction of smoked chicken, chicken paty, mince meat and so on. Most of those products were the products we were taking to places like of UAC and so on. After doing that, we started bakery, bread production. From bread production, we started water and biscuit production which has actually joined our present products range.
You mentioned O-Meal in Osun. The federal government has commenced its feeding programme in seven states; with your experience in O-Meal, I want you to tell me how feasible is this project or how realistic is this idea of feeding students?
From the Osun model, we have actually found out that it is the good model you actually need to have a good impact on the economy. Let us look at the Osun model. You will see that N50 worth of food for a child can actually cater for more than 10,000 people. These are the people that benefit from it now. This N50, let us look at a particular day they are going to eat chicken. The chicken producer supplying chicken will get supply from that N50; the person that is cooking the food is getting supply from that N50; the student that is going to eat the food will get the impact of that N50 and the same N50 is within the community we are in now. These are the direct users of that N50. When we now look at it further, for us that is giving them the chicken, we have different chicken suppliers. They have also employed people because they have to supply to this O-Meal.
Another thing we also did on our part from this O-Meal was to empower different people because it is within the state and there is a need because of the freshness. We looked for those that do not have cold rooms; we purchased freezers and generators for them, so that they can feed these children with fresh food items. We empowered those ones. When you look at a chain of N50 and people it has touched, this is enormous. If you look at the multiplier effect, how it has empowered people in the environment, you’ll see that it is a direct way of reducing unemeployment. We are actually making the people have entrepreneurship ideas and encourage them to look into those areas and develop themselves further.
It is definitely going to have an impact on the economy.
Recently, you opened a biscuit factor; one wonders why a biscuit factory in the time of recession?
What we actually looked at was to move from our base sector to other base sector. In doing that, we picked some products. Our emphasis was on ready to eat meal. We wanted to enter the market and see Tuns products do well, products made in Osogbo. Our chicken products have been able to do well such that the international brands reckoning us. We felt we could go into ready-to-eat products and that was why we diversified into baking of bread, water and biscuits. Diversification is the secret of our success. For the biscuit in particular, Nigeria is a consuming nation and we have the population that consumes what you produce. As far as it is food, there will always be market for it. So far so good, we have actually come out well. We’ve come out with two products now. We still have 16 other products along the line. We are still developing; we want to be coming to market gradually.
We have actually concentrated on its quality which is the edge we are trying to create in the market.
Everybody is talking about recession; how have you been coping?
Recession has really happened everywhere. In some of our business lines, we realized that we had undercapitalized. For example, in the poultry line, at a time we could do 300,000 birds. Now, we have to be doing 100,000 because the cost of 30,000 which we used to do is what we use in doing 100,000 now. The cost of raw materials has actually gone up. We are working to ensure that we are still in business, but we are not maximizing our general capacity.
It seems you are diversifying into a property market…
You mean Tuns Satellite town. It has almost 105.375 hectares. We have looked at Osogbo. We have seen that hardly would you see a very well- planned area. Our emphasis is to make Tuns Satellite town a talk of the town in terms of having all the standards in a good neighbourhood and that is why we have ensured that a good road network is going to be made available. There is going to be the availability of electricity and all other essentials such as police station, hospital, medium school, high school and all other things you need in that community. We actually got the best brains of town planners together to come out with a good plan. The electricity here in Osogbo is very good and when you look at business plans coming up there is a need for you to have good environment that you can actually build a standard houses that will be comfortable for you.
It is already available for sale now. The good thing about it is that you have a rest of mind when you purchase. There is no disturbance from Omo onile, there is no unnecessary process. We have our C-of-Os and the survey is on ground.
Assuming you are not the MD of Tuns, what would you have been doing?
Basically, I’ve not thought of that because all my upbringing has been around Tuns. As I was growing, even when I was in secondary school during my holidays, I was still going to Tuns to work. I had worked in the welding section before, worked where they packed chickens before, worked everywhere. All along, I had it in my mind that this is the job I’m going to be doing.
You said you worked at the lowest rung in that way?
For all of us, our father made sure that we all went to the farm. We had actually, when we were still young, stayed on the streets of Osogbo to sell chicken. You know, he also started from the scratch. He brought us into the business from the scratch. That is why we are what we are today. There is none of the processes we cannot talk about.
What does it take to manage a family business?
The good thing about it is that everybody has his own role. Somebody can be in the finance section, another in sales, another in administration and so on. But not all the children are in the line of business. They’ve been able to use the line of business to make themselves better wherever they are because of the impact the business had on them while doing their holiday jobs here. But for us who are in the line of business, we have our roles. We all come to the board meetings to make presentations on the sections we’re handling and it has been a cordial relationship. – Culled from The Nation.