The Federal Government’s desire to increase the nation’s housing stock significantly within a short time will receive a boost with the entrance of CMB-Vertikal construction company into the nation’s landscape.
CMB-Vertikal is a wholly Nigerian company that evolved recently through very strong partnership between CMB Building Maintenance & Investment Co., Limited and Vertikal Sp. z o.o. Poland.
The new company is set to become the number one construction company in Nigeria, said the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kelechukwu Mbagwu in Lagos, recently.
He said there was need for collaboration between local and foreign companies for better performance and for capacity building, stating that the days of one-stop-shop housing development companies were over.
Mbagwu said, “We are talking to what the minister wants, which is infrastructural development which will in fact create the enabling environment that we are talking about. And then mass production at speed that is not yet possible with us.”
The new company, he said would have various departments, stating that CMB-Vertikal would take over construction operations from CMB. “CMB-Vertikal will be like our contractors and, of course, they will still get their own jobs.
An Oyster Management Company is coming to be; it’s an independent company with its managing director, to handle the entire maintenance portfolio. “So, we won’t be playing that role either; the security arm is Steel Guardian. The parent company, CMB will be able to concentrate on getting the jobs and ensure continued progression.”
On the positioning of CMB-Vertikal in the nation’s construction industry, Mbagwu said, “Pure development will always have placed us within the first three top companies but with increased capacity in construction, our aim is to be number one. Give us a few years of this collaboration, a few years of proving to the Europeans that there is a lot of business, a lot of potential and there is a lot of good to come out of the partnership in Nigeria; I think we will be number one when the kind of resources that the Polish company has assured us that they have and proven to have is deployed in the country.
I don’t think there is an organisation here that can currently match us. What we want to make sure we do is to encourage them to concentrate resources here and then you’ll see an explosion like never before.
“In the next five year, I see us much bigger than Julius Berger. I see us as the biggest in the country and I see us starting to expand our business and, our tentacles going into other African countries.”
He said they would engage in road construction because “That’s one of the key things we want to do. Vertikal is truly very strong in that area in Poland.”
He said CMB used to build and sell off-plan but that it would not do so again since “the one-stop-shop has served its purpose; It has been wonderful for us; it has brought us this far; we have delivered a lot but when we view the global problem and especially what has been highlighted in the past two years of economic stagnation, we realised that these baby steps are not going to get us anywhere.
If we want to be able to change anything, then we need the kind of capacity that, right now, we just don’t have and that is why we are importing it; you need to develop it yourself or bring it from outside. We realised that developing it ourselves is going to be very tedious and the model that gave birth to CMB growth is getting to be outdated by a proliferation of ‘cowboys’ who have come into the industry. But, we have looked at everything and have seen that it is not quite achieving its purpose.”
He explained that if there was economic downturn like was being experienced in the last two years it could actually go crashing.
Mbagwu said he always tries to be the best at what he does. “If we run CMB as a construction company, can we be the best management company in the business- no, because our concentration will never be total but we have capable hands, dedicated professionals, who will take the ball and run, and I believe that those issues could be handled.”
He said he naively believed at the beginning that if people see something good, then they will tap in; the majority will tap in but there’s a determined minority that won’t and will do everything to practically frustrate you. I do not subscribe to conflict between you and your client because it doesn’t help business, but I do subscribe to professionalism and highly focused individuals trying to do what they know best; that’s why we are doing this collaboration.