Clareworks Group: Why I Started My Company ~ Oluwagbemiga Fasunloro

Oluwagbemiga Fasunloro (B.Eng, R.Engr, MNSE, MASME) is from Ekiti State, married, and a proud father of 3 boys. He studied Mechanical Engineering and, after that, got numerous certifications in Construction Management, Building Maintenance & Construction, and a few other areas. We should also mention that he trained fully as “an apprentice” in Welding and thereafter in Plumbing after his first degree.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Oluwagbemiga Fasunloro (B.Eng, R.Engr, MNSE, MASME). I’m from Ekiti State, married, and a proud father of 3 boys. I studied Mechanical Engineering and after that, got numerous certifications in Construction Management, Building Maintenance & Construction, and a few other areas. I should also mention that I trained fully as “an apprentice” in Welding and thereafter in Plumbing after my first degree.

Was clareworks group your first-ever business?

Clareworks Group comprises Clareworks Resources, Clareworks TechWorld Solutions, Clareworks Resources Limited, and Clareworks In & Out. The first was actually Clareworks Resources.

When and how did you start the Clareworks brand

I worked for an electromechanical firm in the 2000s. It was a sister company to ITB, and its name was Premont. I grew to be the Lead Engineer at that time and worked on Eko Akete, delivered Four Points by Sheraton, Eko Convention Center, and a few other projects. The company maintained Eko Hotels for about two years. I was the Maintenance Manager for that period, ensuring the optimal functioning of all services using the Hotel Service Optimization System (HOTSOS) software. The pay was a meager #50,000, but I persevered with my eyes on the target, learning as much as I could all through my journey with Premont.

I registered CLAREWORKS RESOURCES in 2010 and resigned thereafter to focus on my business.

Tell us about your first year in Business?

Haaaa! I remember that it wasn’t funny o. At one point, I was tempted to go back to Premont, as my former bosses were still interested in me. No one was ready to trust a virgin hand with a project, as they would rather trust a known brand and in some cases, skin colour.

The first project I bid for and got called for inspection was in Lagos, and guess what? I met my former G.M coming to inspect the same project. It was then I learnt that “Except a fish swallows a co-fish in the ocean, it will forever remain its size till it dies naturally or is eaten up by a bigger fish.”

My first job came almost after a year. The client told me he needed a Plumber (not an Engineer) for a project and wanted to see how well I could perform. I was so excited and started as a Plumber. The experience gathered enabled me to contribute to other areas, and this gave me more jobs on the same project, which turned out to be an earth-breaker for me.

When did you see a breakthrough in your business or what you considered as the leap that took you where you are now?

In 2014, after being turned down severally, even at the award stage, I got a multi-million naira contract to renovate CLIFFORD HOUSE, an asset of former FORTE OIL. It was a challenge because much was expected from us, and secondly, the company operates a ‘no mobilisation’ policy. This policy made us explore Contract Financing, Invoice discounting, and the likes, to our advantage in business.

Tell us about your support systems and in what specific way they support you and what you do.

The ultimate support system is God Almighty, and He has been good to me. My next support system is my family. When you see a successful male entrepreneur, his earthly support system is, first, his wife and children. You cannot do my kind of job if you do not have peace.

Then, it’s not complete without the STRUCTURE – The Team. I say this a lot, that when people applaud Clareworks, they appreciate what my staff is doing – the good work, our tradition of excellence and unparalleled customer support.

Tell us about how you built your relationships?

Anyone close to me knows that I’m a relationship person, a bridge builder that rarely burns one. I’ve built relationships over time, cutting across diverse sectors. A major ingredient in relationship building is INTEGRITY. This quality is always emphasized and resounded in all projects executed and our business transactions.

How did you manage naysayers?

FOCUS + FAITH ─ that’s it!!! You need to have self-belief. It’s your responsibility to believe in your dreams, while it’s a matter of choice for everyone else, to believe un you or your dreams.

We know in your line of business; you deal with a lot of high-profile customers, companies and most times they award contracts without paying a dime and support the pay after delivery. How do you manage the cash flow?

As I mentioned earlier, there are several business products from commercial banks. When you don’t have the capital base to fund contracts, these are your sure options.

How do you manage debt from clients?

A responsible client will not owe you, even though a few exceptions exist. Every project has a Bill of Quantities, Plan of Work and Payment Milestone. The progress of work is measurable. Stick to it to experience minimal exposure to the client’s indebtedness to you.

We know you work with a lot of professionals and Artisans, and they love you. Tell us how you manage these people?

Remember I mentioned this group of people earlier, as part of my support structure. It’s easy for me to relate because I had been an apprentice before. Rewarding performance creates motivation, which in turn, drives up output. The love you show to them is, most times, reciprocated in how they work for you. Don’t mix it up – discipline and limits are very vital for Corporate Sanity.

What is your motivation, and what drives you to greatness?

GOOD RESULTS! While training to become an Engineer, we were taught that it’s either a thing works or it doesn’t. When it’s the latter, it is your duty to ensure that you fix it. I’m inspired to do more when we have good results in our endeavour. Recently, we undertook for Lagos State Waterways Authority, the renovation of two major jetties. The success of this project pushed us to another level of greatness, which is why we ALWAYS put quality ahead of any other thing in our dealings.

What are your long-term goals for Clareworks group?

To make it to the top 3 in the Construction Industry in Nigeria, the best one-stop shop in Design & Build, with tailored and flexible rates that are affordable for every class.

Who are your mentors, and how have they influenced your life?

I’ve got a few mentors in and out of the industry. However, Dr. Olumide Emmanuel (Common Sense Guru) is top on the list for his influence in real estate and constant readiness to divulge the secrets of success to us, his mentees.

Another is Aliko Dangote, for his market versatility and influence in many sectors. Indeed, I have learnt from him that it pays to invest in seeds that would yield multiple income streams.

Why is empowering others important to you?

Having tasted both sides of the coin of life, I have since grown that passion for empowering others because I know what it means to be helpless. When you empower the people, you empower the nation.

How more do you explain 2 hands, 2 legs with all body parts but no opportunity to even earn from any job? As a Plumber in that first contract I mentioned earlier, I remember that I would empty the remains of the soakaway pit in a bucket and carry it on my head.

Our plans include having an ultra-modern Empowerment Center for technical skills with hostel facilities. This center will be affiliated with an Overseas institution to widen opportunities for the graduating students.

What other business do you run aside from Clareworks group?

I have investments in real estate, I have a fleet of cars for e-cab services, and I also do consultancy and training part-time.

What is the Nigerian dream to you?

A land of equal opportunities, where the son of a common man from any region can excel based on sound knowledge and integrity.

What advice do you have for aspiring young leaders?

They should eschew evil and injustice and believe in peace and the country’s progress.

Is there a special project you are currently working on that you will require partners with?

We have a couple of PPP HOME OWNERSHIP proposals with Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, and Kwara States that need Investors to make a reality.

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