From Spare Parts Trader To Motor Giant: The Story Of Innoson Group Boss

From Spare Parts Trader To Motor Giant: The Story Of Innoson Group Boss

Chief Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma is the Chairman of Innoson Group makers of motorcycles and spare parts and many other things.

Innocent Chukwuma

In a recent interview Chukwuma explained why he does not have a “big-town” carriage: “I am from Uru village, Nnewi. I have lived all my life at Nnewi. I do my business at Nnewi.

I have not left Nnewi for any other place. Up till now, Nnewi is still the headquarters of my chains of businesses. I started my business at Nnewi. I grew my business to what it is today at Nnewi. I came to Enugu because of the factory that I sited here. Nnewi remains my main base”.

Innocent started as trader but has exited that area and moved into big-time manufacturing. His Group consists of: Innoson Nigeria Ltd, makers of motorcycles and spare parts; Innoson Tech and Industries Ltd, plastics and household items makers; Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM), auto makers and General Tyres and Tubes Co. Ltd, Enugu, which is being run by his 26 year-old son, Nonso.

The plastic factory is the largest of its type in Africa, and produces not less than 150 different items, from motor and machinery parts to office and household necessities. It took us two whole hours to complete the tour of the factory, which is sited at the headquarters in Enugu.

In the beginning…

It all started in 1978 when Innocent completed his secondary school education. He was certainly not the top-of-the class type.

He was interested in reading engineering at the university. While he waited for his result he decided to report to the medicine store of his elder brother, Gabriel to occupy his time. He immediately discovered that he had a natural talent for trading. When his result came out he was unable to make the grade required for him to go for further education. By then, he had made up his mind to be a businessman, anyway. He was given to Chief Romanus Eze Onwuka, who became his Master.

In 1979, Innocent returned to his brother, who promptly registered Gabros International to trade on motorcycle spare-parts. Innocent was given the sum of N3,000 to start, and he was allowed free hand to run it. It was from this money that he rented a shop and bought his first merchandise. By the end of the year 1980, the company took stock and discovered that Gabros International Ltd under Innocent’s able hands was making more than ten times income than the medicine store.

The next decision he took ultimately led to the establishment of two mega-companies that shot him to limelight: the Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM) Nnewi and Innoson Tech and Industries, Enugu, the largest plastic manufacturing plant in Africa.

At the Nnewi plant all types of automobiles were seen but no sedans or cars.

He said, I am working to have a brand new car sold in Nigeria for about one million or a bit more. It will be a little more than one million when we start but as time goes on it will come down. A car of about the calibre of Toyota Corolla should be less than two million when we start, and the quality will not be anything less”.

His dream is that as soon as the cars start tumbling out of the factory, he will push towards making second hand vehicles (popularly called tokunbo cars) unviable in Nigeria. “You see how tokunbo motorcycle go? Is anybody talking about it anymore?

The only thing it will take for tokunbo car to go from Nigeria is price. Make it cheap and affordable; make the spare-parts available, and tokunbo WILL GO. Who will like to buy an old car when he or she can spend less and by brand new? I must make new one to be cheap so that tokunbo will go in the nearest future. As from April I will flood the market with Innoson cars at cheaper price”.

Luck is on his side because the Federal Government has become very interested in getting vehicles made locally in Nigeria. In fact, President Goodluck Jonathan commissioned the Nnewi motor plant and proceeded to roll out a new national Automotive Policy.

Innocent Chukwuma cannot understand why any young person should sit at home and complain about unemployment.

They want to work in banks, oil companies or to become politicians and get rich overnight. There is a lot of job opportunities in farming, but how many young people want to become farmers? The best way to become rich is to go and become a farmer.

“All quick money politicians are making will not last. Young people must use their time as youth to work and build their future”.


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