By Reginald Anuforo

Eric Udenta is the chairman and chief Executive officer of Vintage industries Nigeria Limited. He is an astute business man who sees every challenge as an opportunity. He is engineered for success and designed to have high levels of self-esteem through a dent of hard work.
In this interview he spoke of his challenges and how to reposition his industries in the nearest future.

What motivated you into cosmetics manufacturing?
Motivation came about twenty five years ago when foreign products (cosmetics) were dominating the Nigeria markets. We considered it necessary to establish an industry capable of producing products which will compete with foreign materials for us to have a fair share of the market.
We started at a time when raw materials were easily accessible in the country and indigenous cosmetics industries were then few. We procured petroleum Jolly from Texaco overseas Apapa, Mineral oil from Kaduna Refinery and fragrance, stearic acid, Cetylalcohd Emulsifying Wax, Propylene Glycol, Glycerine etc. from major chemical importer in Nigeria.
Another factor that led to the establishment of the industry was employment opportunity. Government alone cannot employ everybody and that became imperative for private organisations to participate. We have given a good number of Nigerians gainful employments since our inception twenty five years ago, thereby alleviating dependence on government.

How lucrative is this business?
Well, I would not say that it is too lucrative like those who are into importation and exportation, but at the same time it is not bad despite economic recession and other challenges. We have been experiencing from people who are busy importing foreign products into the country which the government is not doing a good job by not placing permanent restriction or ban on them. In terms of profitability, God has been on our side, we are doing our best.

Major products of vintage industries Nigeria Limited
We have two categories of products, body creams and hair beauty products. Our body creams comprise of Cocoa butter and Vinoz family Jelly. In the line of hair products are Vinoz anti-dandruff, Vinoz anti-dandruff hair treatment, Vintage hair shampoo, Vintage styling Gel, Vintage herbal hair treatment among others.
We concentrate majorly on the production of hair products. One of our hair products, Vinoz Anti-Danruff conditioner brought honour to us as the best Dandruff Treatment Product of the year 2016. This Award was organised by The Institute for Government Research Leadership Technology.

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How are your products doing in the market?
In terms of performance, our products are doing very well in the market. Quality speaks for itself as enshrined in our logo. When you dish out quality and an attractive package that is tested and acceptable in the market, the patronage will always be there. The quality of our products is absolutely contagious. That is why Nigerians appreciate and find them irresistible to purchase. A good number of our products are clear leaders in the market.

Challenges facing cosmetics marketing and production in Nigeria?
There are alot of problems confronting Cosmetics industries in the country. The challenge of infrastructure, high rate of taxation, difficulties in obtaining bank loans among others. But the most worrisome and infuriating one is the faking or adulteration of products. Nigerians are experts in adulterating products. The moment they realise that a particular product or products is doing very well in the market, the next step they will take is to fake the product. The worst aspect of it is that they will not spend quality time to study and analyse the chemical compositions of the before going into shoddy production that subsequently corrode or damage skins of people that use the product.
Another heart breaking challenge is the issue of embezzlement of money by the sales men. Many marketing executives are not disciplined with cash, after selling the products given to them; they find it very difficult to remit the proceeds to the company. They will come up with distorted stories that do not exist. Their usual stories would be that customers have not paid.
Meanwhile investigations revealed no trace of indebtedness to the part of customers. They collect the cash intact and diverted to their own private use to the detriment of the company. Recovering the money from them most of the time becomes difficult. This inconsiderate behaviour of sale men has led to the collapse and liquidation of many cosmetics firms in Nigeria.

Some interesting moments you have had
I recalled when we started twenty five years ago; we were carrying our products on the head to various markets and locations in the country canvassing for patronage. The answers that filtered into our ears then were, “We are Nigerians but we do not buy or sell made in Nigeria products”. Today the story has apparently changed, those who lacked interest in buying and selling indigeneous products are now busy struggling to have access to our company to make bulk purchases. The baby is nurtured and grown to maturity.

What has sustained you in business?
Patience, perseverance, God’s grace, humility, sincerity and quality. The passion and appetite we have for quality have always distinguished us from our competitors.
Our track records have shown that right from the inception of the business, high quality and standard products have been our hall mark which cannot be compromised in any form. Consistency in quality has made our products popular and available in all the states, local governments and communities of the federations.

Our company next five years
Absolutely we are strategizing and aspiring to become No.1 cosmetics firm in Nigeria. In five years time we would want to reposition our organization to the likes of Uni-liver Industries Nigeria Plc, PZ Industries Nigeria Plc, and other major Multinational Companies in the country that are seriously performing very well.