Saturday 27 February 2016

I started off as a #Danfodriver — Hembah, #CEO, Nezam Logistics

The story of Mr Terna Hembah Nezam, the Chief Executive Officer of a Haulage company that goes by his name, exemplifies the fact that those who refuse to give in to a temporary failure are bound to go places. From a Danfo driver in Lagos in the 90s, Hembah has risen to  own  one of the leading haulage and logistics company in the country, NEZAM Transport and Logistics Company.

His is a story that many of the thousands of jobless youths in the country can find  inspirational, and, rather that wait for the non-existent jobs, learn a thing or two from. But even for Terna Hembah, if any one had told him  20  years ago that he would be the owner of a multinational  company, he would dismiss it with a wave of the hand.
For as soon as he left the university and finished his national service programme, he was offered  automatic employment by his place of primary assignment, the defunct Allied bank. For a bubbling young man, he could have wished for nothing better.

Though he served with the bank branch in Calabar, Cross River State, he was deployed to the Apapa, Lagos office where he served for three years.

As an ambitious young man then, when he was offered an appointment to join a budding mortgage bank, the desire to do something different from what he was doing in the bank became too strong to resist. He left Allied Bank and joined Property Mortgage Bank in Lagos.

That was the beginning of the challenge that he faced which culminated in his setting up a thriving haulage company.

 He explained: “The finance company failed after a while and I was left with no job. When it became so tough feeding my family, I took the car I had and sold it.

Initially I wanted to use it as airport taxi, but when that didn’t work out, I sold it and bought  a bus and was driving it as Danfo in Lagos. I was plying  Oshodi-Apapa route.
I was happy doing it”, he said. But because he was a graduate and apparently comported himself better than the average Danfo driver in Lagos, it didn’t take long for one of his customers to notice that that there was something different in  this Danfo driver. “One of my regular customers then was a banker with Union Bank. In the course of  on of our discussions, we exchanged information about ourselves.

She was surprised that with my degree in economics, I was comfortable driving a Danfo. She introduced me to the owner of Chisco Transport Company, Chief Chidi Anyaegbu, who gave me an opportunity to work for him. I had a very good relationship with him, which actually exposed me.
He took me through the rudiments of the industry. My first time out of the country was when Chisco sponsored me to attend a conference in logistics in the United States of America. I owe him a debt of gratitude”, Hembahe said.

His stint with the owner of Chisco Transport apparently prepared him for the big task that he is handling now as the owner of a big haulage company with offices in many African countries, including Malawi and Tanzania.

Apart from giving him hands on knowledge about the transport and haulage business, Hembah’s 10-year stay with Chisco exposed him to contacts and connections that he finds very useful till today. “I spent ten years with Chisco.
Because we were doing contracts with Nigerian Breweries, when I moved on, I  kept in touch with many of their staff who also trusted me.

They encouraged me to take a contract to haul products for them”, the  CEO explained. But it appears that women have a special role to play in the lives of this multi millionaire haulage and logistics company owner at very critical times. After landing the haulage contract with Nigerian Breweries, he needed funds to acquire the necessary machinery and vehicles to take the company’s products nationwide.
Obviously as an up coming company, there was not enough funds to embark on such capital intensive project.
But as he was contemplating the next move to make, another woman intervened for him.

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