Spotted from afar, bent down unperturbed in the scorch of the sun doing what he knows best to do-gym equipment.
My curiosity to know what was happening made me discover this humble, handsome and honest innovator in Osun state who uses cement and other local materials to fashion out various types of gymnastic equipment.
Niniola Ayodeji, that is his name. He’s the Chief Executive officer(CEO) of JOYLYROBOT LOGISTICS INTERNATIONAL CEMENT DESIGN WORKS, along Okinni / Ilobu road, near Ileri Oluwa Celestial Parish, Okinni, Osun State, Nigeria.
Niniola is one of the young enterprising and upwardly looking guys who stride to make a living out of nothing debunking the wrong perception of some of his mates who turn to crimes and criminality in the name of economic hardship in the country priding themselves in internet frauds and the like.
On the completion of his senior secondary school education at Odo-Otin Grammar School, Okuku in Osun state, instead of grumbling and roaming around when his parents could not afford to sponsor him for advanced education, got himself put up with Engineer Adekunle Samuel who specializes in the making and training people how to make a decent living using cement and other components to design various things.
After the rigorous training with engineer Adekunle, this ebullient young professional decided to go for gym equipment production quite distinct from what he was trained for, some four to five years ago.
A few minutes with Niniola recalled his personality, dexterity, and the niche he has carved for himself in this business of gymnastic equipment production.
In this interview with the Publisher/ Editor-in-Chief of the InterviewsNigeria, he explains the journey to the world of the gym. Enjoy it.
CAN YOU LEAD US INTO YOUR BACKGROUND?
My name is Niniola Ayodeji. Iam a native of Okuku in Osun State,Nigeria. I attended Odo-Otin Grammar School, Okuku where I completed my Senior Secondary School education in 2014. I am 26 years old.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO GYM MAKING?
After my Senior Secondary School education, because of the inability to further my education owing to lack of funds I decided to enroll in a training course with an Engineer, Adekunle Samuel who is an expert in various vocational training such as tiling, molding with cement, POP work, figure Eight design, Kenpz, Baluster, and Flower designs just to mention a few. From there, I acquired enough experience to be able to use my hands and the God-given brain on whatever I have in mind to design. All along, I want something unique as a business different from what my boss taught me but I did not know how to get there until led by God to do what Iam doing now.
YOUR FORMER BOSS IS INTO VARIOUS VOCATIONS MOST ESPECIALLY TILING WORKS WHICH IS VERY MUCH IN VOGUE. WHY DID YOU NOT TAKE AFTER HIM AND GO INTO TILING BUSINESS?
When I was certified okay under my boss and discharged to be on my own, I sat down to meditate on what I could do with my life and the line of business to venture into, now that I have learned various things and acquired different skills. It did not appeal to me to go into the same venture as my boss even though I liked it. While pondering on what to do, and with prayers, God gave me the inspiration to go for the gymnastic equipment production using cement, used tyres, and other local materials.
SO, IT’S NOT YOUR BOSS THAT TAUGHT YOU THE CHEMISTRY OF GYM MAKING. DO YOU JUST DABBLE INTO IT WITHOUT PRIOR KNOWLEDGE?
Yes. Without prior knowledge because God is the one that gave me the idea.,. I only apply my training in using the cement to mold whatever I need to create with the former training I had with my master.
DO YOU IMPORT YOUR RAW MATERIALS FOR PRODUCTION APART FROM THE CEMENTand AND USED-TYRES YOU MENTIONED?
No. I source every raw material locally.
WHAT IS IT LIKE DOING THIS JOB? WHAT ARE THE REACTIONS OF PEOPLE, FRIENDS, PARENTS, WHEN YOU TOLD THEM YOU WANTED TO START THE GYM-MAKING BUSINESS?
It is not so easy doing this job. It involves precision and a lot of self-motivation and devotion. Getting the materials(even though local materials) is very tasking. Working in the sun when casting is not a child’s play. Because I run around to source these materials for production, it is very onerous but I thank God it has not discouraged me.
For the people’s reactions when I wanted to start the business and after I started it, it was a mixed feeling. While some of my friends did not buy the idea, even my parents could not understand the reason why I chose the gym thing instead of the ubiquitous tiling business.
BUT YOU FORGED AHEAD? WHAT MOTIVATES YOU DESPITE THE EARLY DISCOURAGEMENT?
Even my former boss was surprised to see me doing this work when he paid me a visit to my workshop. But he quickly added that ‘’If this is what God has destined you to do, and you like it, God will prosper you there’’. These words boosted my ego and since that time, I have been enjoying doing the work. Also, a woman who I did not know before was passing by one day begging for alms and I offered to give her the little money with me. After thanking me, she counseled me not to back out of the business but should persevere and that God will meet my needs through the business if I can trust God. So, God is my motivator because He’s the one that led me into it. He gave me inspiration. Similarly, the awareness that I innovated this type of work in Osun state gives me the confidence that all will be well.
WAS THERE ANY TIME YOU WANTED TO QUIT OR WERE SAD ABOUT THIS JOB APART FROM INITIAL DISCOURAGEMENT FROM FRIENDS AND RELATIVES AND INADEQUATE CAPITAL FOR THE WORK?
Yes. Especially when I introduced colours for the production to make it more attractive and unique. People were saying I should limit it to ordinary cement without giving it a colour. Working alone is another kind of discouragement and casting in the sun and all that stuff. But thank God, I did not back out or shift my focus. My products have been accepted because of their durability and uniqueness.
WHAT OF YOUR COMPETITORS? ARE THEY A THREAT TO YOUR BUSINESS?
As far as I know today in Osogbo and Osun State in general, I am the only one in this line of production. Even if there are competitors I have been equipped to face them. Our ingenuity determines where customers buy from.
WHICH MEANS YOU HAVE THE MONOPOLY ADVANTAGE?
Yes, to some extent: but people are gradually getting aware of our type of local gym equipment instead of the iron-made imported ones. They see our products on display and are curious to buy.
SO YOU HAVE MADE A LOT OF MONEY IN THIS BUSINESS? DOES THIS WORK PAY YOUR BILLS?
I have not made enough money in the business. People are just getting interested in my product but God is sustaining me little by little. I need more patronage. I need people to help me purchase various equipment for my work. I need money to buy raw materials
WHAT IS YOUR SOURCE OF FINANCE?
I need capital(money) for this kind of business just like any other business. I started with my personal savings and thrift contributions.
SO YOU MAY NEED A FINANCIER IF POSSIBLE? Yes. I will be grateful if any philanthropist and well-meaning people in Osun state and beyond can come to my aid financially or even invest in my business. They will not be disappointed. For now, it is from my sales that I plow back for production and I need to expand the business to satisfy my customers and make a break-even.
YOU MENTIONED EXPANDING YOUR BUSINESS. WHICH AREA OF THIS BUSINESS ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?
I want to purchase new equipment for production. I would also like to have a bigger workshop where I could work conveniently and also conspicuously display my products.
WHICH MEANS YOU PREFER FULL TECHNOLOGY TO MANUAL OPERATION?
Yes. This is because full technology has its many advantages of mass production and designs. It will also save labour and time of production.
CAN YOU COMPARE YOUR GYM EQUIPMENT WITH THE FOREIGN ONES?
This is relative depending on the way one looks at it. My gym equipment of various capacities is durable, easy to use, and attractive. Our prices are affordable and not exploitative as the imported ones. My customers are enjoying our brand and services, we only want more awareness for more patronages.
DO YOU PRODUCE GYM ONLY FOR THE ADULTS? DID YOU ALSO TAKE KIDS INTO CONSIDERATION?
Thank you very much for that question. I produce for both the young and old. For example, we have equipment for different weight capacities viz:1 modes, 2 kg 5kg,7 kg,9kg,10kg11kg-150 kg for the Drumbells So you will see that we have taken children into consideration. Parents come to buy for themselves and their kids as applicable.
IN OUR SOCIETY TODAY WHERE YOUNG FOLKS ARE NOT INTERESTED IN MAKING IT THROUGH HARD WORK, BUT BY EASY AND CROOKED WAYS; WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO NIGERIAN YOUTHS TO GIVE THEM HOPE?
Nigerian youths should know that there is dignity in labour. They should try to use their God-given talents. If they are not privileged to have formal education or attend higher institutions, they should go and learn a trade or a vocation that will make them be occupied. An idle hand is the devil’s workshop. They should not imitate wrongly, because not all that glitter is gold. Involving in internet fraud and ritual money will only cost them their lives or end up in prisons.
YOU ARE A DOGGED FIGHTER WITH LOFTY DREAMS AND I PRAY THAT GOD WILL GIVE YOU YOUR HEART DESIRES
Thank you very much for this interview. I am very grateful for having me on this platform.
Interview conducted by:Idowu Akintunde