Necessity is the mother of invention, the sages have long taught us; if you are uncomfortable about something then do something about it, the motivational speakers have since drummed into our ears. Are they right? I sure believe they are!!!
What else can transform a company which started two decades ago with about N1 million share-capital to N800 million? Or diversify an ordinary road transport company into a multi-faceted, hydra-headed business empire spanning the hospitality, haulage, and courier industries? A worthy invention I say and a man of character at the helm of affairs.
Frank Nneji is that man and Associated Bus Company [ABC] Transport is the company. Of course I have had my issues with ABC, but that does not detract from the story of persistence and entrepreneurial dexterity which has translated to 20 plus years of leadership in the transport market-place, job opportunities and added value to the country at large.
Another 1960’s man, Frank Uzoawuotu Nneji hails from Imo State of Nigeria. His growing years were spent in the village with his family of nine. After his secondary education, Nneji gained admission into the University of Nigeria Nsukka, where he graduated with a degree in Zoology in 1982. Evidently his mother desired that her children would be medically inclined, however you can take a horse to the stream, but you can’t force it to drink. Nneji discovered his entrepreneurial skill set early on, and gathered a tidy sum of money publishing and selling past question papers. From this venture, he made enough money to travel to Italy on a student rebate ticket where he purchased clothing items for sale.
As soon as he was done with the burden of studying, Nneji dusted out his entrepreneurial shoes for good. He set up a company, Rapido, which supplied educational materials. He started out supplying writing boards, most of which he made himself and he grew that little board company into the leading producer and marketer of audio-visual products in West Africa.
In the pursuit of his Rapido dream, Nneji engaged in frequent, unsafe and uncomfortable bus rides. While others groaned and complained, or suffered silently as most Nigerians do, the beginnings of a new business empire were busily hatching in his head. Uppermost on his mind was comfort, safety, and a general enjoyment by the passenger of the whole road travel experience.
Boom! And it came to pass that in 1993, Nneji was ready to fly. With a loan and 5 Hiace buses, the dream was on; and boy, did it catch fire. Hitherto existing bus companies started attempting to pattern their services after ABC’s, but if it no be panadol, e no be panadol*. Their operations in Nigeria spans the entire country; north, south east and west. They have even gone on to establish a Coach West Africa in 2004 which journeys through the West African countries in a scenic, informative and actually entertaining ride. [I have been a witness]. In 2006, ABC transport became a Public Liability Company, making it the first transport company in Nigeria to be mentioned on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Nneji who went on to undertake an Executive programme at Wharton Business School, Philadelphia, USA and a Chief Executive programme at Lagos Business School, Lagos has been honoured with several awards for his innovations in the transport industry which includes: Award of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) by the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2005) Auto Personality of the Year 2004 by Auto World, Award of Excellence in Business (2005) for efficient transport service delivery by Aba Chamber of Commerce amongst others. ABC Transport has been adjudged the Best Transporter in Nigeria by the Chartered Institute of Transport and has since then consistently won the National Bus Operator of the Year Award along with other accolades by renowned bodies.
‘Good thinking, good product.’
*if e no be panadol, e no be panadol- nothing beats the original.