Otunba Yomi Ajayi, the CEO and Managing Director, Rolak Hotel and Suites, Ijebu-Ode Ogun State, in this interview with our correspondent shed light on how he diversified his business from Civil Engineering to a distributorship company and now to hospitality business. Excerpts:
How would you describe yourself?
I am Otunba Yomi Ajayi Smith, a father, a husband, a Catholic Christian and the MD, CEO of Cp-Tech Group and Rolak Hotel and Suites. I was born in Ijebu-Imushin and grew in both Ogun and Lagos States.
What prompted you to invest into hospitality business?
At the early stage, I established a construction company, known as ‘Cp-Tech Construction Company Limited’. I have been in the construction industry for over 30 years. I have been involved in some major road projects and building construction and have executed many projects for Federal, State, public and private institutions in the country. To support prompt delivery, we incorporated Topspeed Investment Limited, where we purchase and supply building materials. The business has grown becoming major distributors for Dangote Cement, Lafarge, Wapco, Nigerite and other key players in the building industry in Nigeria today. This subsequently means when Cp-Tech Construction Company Limited has a project, it will be very easy for us to source the raw materials needed to execute the project and in scheduled time. Having all these, we decided to look outward for further diversification that led to the birth of Rolak Hotel & Suites. In the long run, this has helped in creating employment for our young graduates and in supporting the future generations while also redefining the hospitality business in Ogun State and as well as providing quality landmark within Ijebu-Ode.
Can you please tell us more about Rolak Hotel?
When we initially started the hotel business, we started with only 40 rooms, the banquet hall and restaurant; but with the design of the structure and uniqueness of our rooms, with other little facilities within the former 40-room structure, our clients began demanding for an expansion of more rooms and more facilities. Luckily for us, there were undeveloped acres of land behind the then smaller hotel. We keyed into their suggestions, purchased additional two acres of land on which we went on to construct the new structures. In consideration of the demands of our clients, we sat down to design a suitable standard of structure for our guests. And all that is what led us to where we are today. We give all honor and glory to the Almighty God for giving us the wisdom and knowledge to build and crown our efforts. Importantly also, we can’t rule out how vital the experience from our construction company was. People’s expectation of Cp-Tech Construction Company Limited is that it is the company that was handling the design and the entire expansion of the structure we currently have at Rolak Hotel today.
Are you comfortable enough as it now, or you’re extending the business across other states in the Southwest of Nigeria?
We hope to do that eventually. It is our plan to expand into other States in the future, establishing bigger structures than what is presently available at Rolak. We have the urge to have more suitable and standard structures across other states possibly in Lagos and Ibadan. Actually, what we have in Rolak of today is a pointer to our targets; it’s a signature of our experiences in the construction company, and we have to start from our home base being an ‘Ijebu man’ so as to demonstrate our competency to our people and they can see we deliver. Also, it is important for us to demonstrate that in any business we find ourselves, we always seek to deliver the very best and to excel. As of today at Rolak, we have 110 rooms, we have deluxe, standard, executive deluxe, presidential, decent suite and executive rooms, Rolak has a restaurant that can accommodate 250 guests, we have conference rooms of various sizes and a board-room for any range of business meetings, we have a multipurpose hall for various programmes that can accommodate up to 1,500 guests, we have a banquet hall, that can accommodate 250 guests, we have a restaurant that can accommodate 50 guests, we have a standard swimming pool, relaxation center, we have fitness center gym, we have standard security outsourced to a competent private security company, we also make use of the local vigilante monitoring our affairs and the police also help regularly monitoring and securing our environment at the Rolak hotel. Our power supply generating plants are working perfectly; we have 500KV, 200KV and 100KV generators to allow us switch as demands requires.
What are the challenges being encountered by the business?
Electricity is one of the major challenges affecting businesses in Nigeria. At Rolak hotel, we consume large volume of diesel every month which really affects our profit margin and that is a very big challenge to us. Also, the deplorable condition of our roads, we are praying for the current state government to deliver as promised. We hope the Dapo Abiodun’s led administration will help bring about greater progress. Some roads in Ijebu-Ode are not motorable, although work is ongoing at Imowo where Rolak Hotel is situated, the road leading to the hotel is fair and we have been maintaining it as much as we can since the commencement of the hotel’s operation and we will continue to do that. We have done one side of the drainage and we still plan to do the second part. If the State Government is ready to support us, we will fix the road that lead to Rolak hotel.
Accessing Nigeria’s economy, how does it affect your business?
Sincerely, it is difficult to answer the question because most of us in the hospitality industry and business in generally are facing a lot of challenges. We want the government to further improve the state of the economy. It is mostly the small scale businesses that provides most employment opportunities required in the country. When the government encourages us, we will have the opportunity to do more because we impact greatly on the employments of our youths. We are also being subjected to series of taxes which affects businesses in Nigeria today. Most of the infrastructure that were to be done by Government were done by us to keep our businesses running. These are the things we are supposed to enjoy freely from various Governments; we do the boreholes by ourselves and refuse disposal too. All these are supposed to be government’s responsibilities. If we are to pay taxes we should be doing so without much stress. We know what is happening at the other side of the world, government seriously needs to have a rethink. They are not helping new industries to strive in the country, and forgetting that yearly, our institutions are rolling out new graduates.
Your message to all sons and daughters of Ijebuland?
I want to advise that our people in diaspora should contribute in any way they can to help industrialize Ijebuland as we usually say ‘charity begins at home’. Our people should invest just as Rolak Hotel and Suites is doing, in order to create employment opportunities for our youths and develop our land and may God help all of us.