Like anxious teenagers waiting for their bar mitzvah, many people, near and far-flung, are eager to know who Julius Rone, the Chairman of UTM Group, is. Yes, he is bequeathed with a name that every inch sounds like that of an English aristocrat born of an ancestry rooted in a high degree of nobility. Truthfully, he has this uncommon aura of sophistication oozing around him but a personal encounter with him would erase all doubts relating to his true origin. He is a true “son of the soil” from Delta State. Rone has covered many grounds and has stories of conquests to line up at an age when many of his contemporaries are still struggling to find their feet, writes Lanre Alfred
His fortune’s seed
There is melody in Julius Rone’s back-story. You take everything in, and get caught in its speechless rapture. There is sparkle in the narrative too. The native of Warri, Delta State, emits a rare shine that imbues the day with light and hangs upon the cheek of night, like luminous beams of lighthouses in his native Delta. Like the proverbial shiny jewel in an Ethiop’s ear, Julius’ emits an uncommon glitter too rich to be ignored and too dear to be squandered. Little wonder he is fondly regarded as the jewel of Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.
Without doubt, Julius has nurtured his brainchild through its teething years to become a powerful force in energy services and socially responsible enterprise that it has become, thus it’s great to see good values rewarded in an individual because that’s not always the case. In pursuit of fortune and acclaim, Julius understood that a rolling stone gathers no moss, but it gets rid of the rough corners and takes on a lovely polish. Guided by this mindset, he proceeded to establish himself and carve his niche in the cutthroat world of entrepreneurship thus he started UTM Oil and Gas Limited. The company was incorporated as an independent Oil Trading Company (OTC) in Nigeria. Its trading activities range from refined white products to semi-refined black products. UTM Oil and Gas also explores its formidable network structure to access and expand business relationships wherever profitable and feasible while promoting and sustaining professionalism. In a bid to play down his ingenuity and business savvy, he attributes UTM’s climb to the pinnacle of entrepreneurial success to sheer determination, providence and God’s grace. “We thank God for everything. He has been kind to us from day one. Since inception, we have built a reputation by passionately and professionally executing our briefs to deliver the best value to our clients. In so doing, we have positioned our company as a premier marine organization in virtually all our areas of operations. UTM dredging limited has for some time now successfully pioneered new standard by offering specialized turnkey packages for any type of marine transportation movement viz: Rig move and deployment logistics through the application of a broad range of effective innovations in marine, logistics support, dredging, inland water way ferry services, charter, equipment leasing, rental, marine vessels procurement/supply, offshore operation supports, petroleum products supply, general labor provider and management solution to meet world standard and of our client’s needs all over.”
The fire within
As the tired sun melts into an endless horizon and azure skies are shrouded in dusk, the passage of childhood and transition into youth opened fresh vistas in the life of Julius. If only youth were enough to bring the relief of peace, success and acclaim, Julius would sleep easy. But he couldn’t. “To God be glory, we have been able to record some landmark success as a company because we are a very determined set of people with common vision and goals. We all put in our best because we operate with unity of purpose. We are a team of dedicated like-minds whose personal visions and passions are in tandem with each other.”
An alumnus of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and the University of Calabar where he earned his Advance Diploma and Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration respectively, Julius is a seasoned technocrat with vast experience spanning over a decade in the public sector. It is hardly surprising therefore, that he brings his expertise and vast knowledge to bear in his foray in private business. There is no gainsaying the world of business is like a dangerous coast riddled with storms. But despite its turbulent tides, Julius, like a sea-hardened sailor navigates through the gales armed with a stubborn resolve and unyielding spirit. Today, that relentless spirit of Julius has paid off. It has guided him through the bittersweet, cut-throat world of global commerce till he emerged unscathed and undaunted in spirit and resolve, like a champion. Having seen the world change around people who were unprepared for its transformation, Julius, at a very young age, pitched his flag in the tumultuous terrain and battle zone of global commerce. But while many of his rivals and contemporaries fixated on making money from the confusion characteristic of the business zone, Julius chose to help clarify the confusion and sanitize the terrain through an ethical and humane entrepreneurial culture.
Rone’s rise to riches is an inspiration to an average Nigerian youth. He must have some words for the aspiring youths who are in dire need of mentorship, “Many young guys have run into me and told me that my life inspires them. I always advise them that they cannot sleep and wake up millionaires overnight. They must be focused, determined and also have the fear of God. Fear of God in the sense that times are tough, but they should also look at themselves as a potential success. If you believe in whatever goals you set for yourself, you can achieve it”. Honestly, I had my hard times, but one thing I never did was to put myself in trouble. I don’t like to be associated with bad things.”
Commerce is far too precious and fundamental to be left to the wiles and exploits of villainous characters hence Julius believes that the doctrine of altruism and love must be preached as counteraction to the doctrine of mercantilism, cut-throat competition and greed that has overtime become the norm in business circuits. Virtues, according to him, should be in the popular estimate, the rule guiding human conduct in business, social and political circuits rather than the exception. A man is nothing without his virtues, he argues.
Thus he endeavours to do good. But his deeds are done not as an apology or extenuation of his fortune and citizenship of the world. While many a rich man propagate virtues as penances for the inactions of the world’s privileged divide, Julius imbibes and perpetuates the culture of goodness not out of a frantic zeal to apologize or expiate perceived inhumanities of his rich, privileged divide, he does good because it is an intrinsic part of his manliness.
Rone describes humility as the greatest lesson life has taught him. “I’m extremely humbled by the fact that everything I have actually acquired at this stage came to me through the blessings of God. Simply put, I practically had to rely on strength and determination to succeed. I was able to sail through and find myself where I am today through prayers. I am successful today because I am truthful, prayerful and honest to whatever agreement I have with anybody.”
Utibe…It’s love actually
“Having good things of life is good but getting married to my wife, Utibe, was one of the best things I ever experienced”. Thus soon after they encountered each other and struck a blissful friendship, Julius, like the proverbial triple pillar of the world, became Utibe’s version of the Aeolian Harp. Utibe, like a practiced possessor and player of the Aeolian Harp, pulled at the strings of Julius’ heart. The effect was awesome. It excited in the UTM head honcho, spasms of pleasure and indescribable passion.
However, their passionate encounter was hardly one-sided. Julius evenly excited strange impulses in Utibe thus animating her in unusual ways and causing her to swoon over him even when she struggled not to. Subsequently, they established a bond based on mutual love, trust and respect for each other. Their story reads like a passionate thesis on a classical verse of love. Both Julius and Utibe, for the first time in their lives felt something different, extremely passionate, scary yet enjoyable. They basked and sojourned in the lush, blissful vales of each other’s passion and warmth.
If friendship was rewarding for the duo, falling in love with each other was liberating. Ask Julius. He will proudly tell you any day that loving Utibe was invigorating. The passion and devotion he shared with her exposed him to priceless adventures in the meadows and everglades of love.
Loving Utibe was cathartic. This is because the leggy beauty, and Microbiology graduate of the University of Port Harcourt opened him up to feelings he erstwhile lived wary of. Gradually, he slipped into the supple gulf of her warmth but rather than drown in the floodgate of passion that cascaded all over him, he rose with the tides to skim and surf it’s exhilarating waves, jetsam and flotsam. The passion he felt for Utibe was what scholars and classical romantics imbued with eternal fervour of timeless truths and poetics. Very few mortals encounter it and succeed in making sense of it and sustaining it. But Julius internalised it and evolved with it. Utibe was the miracle that God had wrought. And she was patently the kind of woman whose love could only happen on a man once in a thousand seasons.
Julius… Father and pathfinder
Fatherhood held a pleasant surprise for Julius Rone. A tender spot stirs curiosity in him even as you read for stories of other men’s adventures in fatherhood and the quality of their relationship with their children. Do they really love each other? How well do most men know their kids and vice versa? What do they talk about? Are they really close? How strong is their bond with their wards? These are some of the questions pulsing in Julius’ heart. Left to him, being a father can be at times so unknowable, notwithstanding the bond between him and his children is so great, he might as well be the man in the moon.
Julius and his children are infinitely bound to each other. So connected are they to each other that they have grown to know each other not as adult and child, father and sons but as filial soul mates and buddies. To Julius, the future holds great promise – he believes that in time, the next few years to be precise, he would have figured out how to say all those things that he and his kids hadn’t yet been able to say to each other—anything, everything and sweet fatherly nothings in particular— thus closing and avoiding that awkward gap that estranges too many fathers and sons from each other.
Since his wife, Utibe, gave birth to their first child up till their last child arrived their household as a bundle of joy and testament of God’s infinite love for his family, Julius has spent a great deal of time trying to understand how to be closer and flawlessly paternal to his wards.
A gilt heart
Julius nurtures a robust interest in the humane. He was never brought up to savour bluster by finding pleasure in what is so commonly condemned neither was he given to pessimism at an early age. He chooses only to see the sunny spokes behind the darkest pall. Left to him, a modern traveler could spend his time peacefully admiring the world’s picturesque scenes and the good among men instead of feeling mortification by the wild, grotesque inclinations of the world and the grind of mankind’s fledgling inhumanity. Thus he eschews impatience and quick-fix solutions to society’s fledgling problems. He does not turn a blind eye to the needy. Rather he pays good mind to their needs. And in this respect, his generosity proclaims him. Julius is indeed generous at heart. He embarks on a humanitarian odyssey like a kind of poet and painter whose imagination is unclipped. He paints picturesque scenes in lives severely marred by squalor; he encrusts bleakness in shiny varnish and, as he is able, he seeks to mend small damaged lives here and there.
At a time when it is generally believed that one has to be a lowbrow and an incorrigible to be a successful corporate titan, Julius ventures into business to improve lives. But unlike too many of his contemporaries, he is unwilling to see people sacrificed and rivals destroyed for the sake of his ambition. The native of Warri, in the estimation of many friends and associates, is unarguably cut out for greater roles in the affairs of the country’s industrial sector but rather than get high on the wings of the lofty hopes about him, Julius chooses to begin his humble ascent to the corridors of acclaim and entrepreneurial power by espousing the morals, personal and professional ethics instilled in him by his parents, Chief Rone and late Madam Dora in his relations with clients, rivals and business associates in his various endeavors. Surely, attaining the present height would not have come without some enduring lesson.
Affluence fades…class is eternal
Luxury excites Julius. It animates him hence his awareness as a connoisseur, enthusiast and collector of luxury and grand designs. It is therefore, a function of style and a taste for grandeur that Julius ornaments his life and every aspect of his homestead to reflect his innate passion for the classy and rarefied.
Thus bliss subsists in every projection and detail of Julius Rone’s picturesque mansion in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. So scenic is the imposing edifice that it attracts ceaseless pilgrimage by the creme of Abuja’s high society. There is no gainsaying Julius’ manor is a dream of bliss. A real life pictogram of the fabled Neverland. Amid its captivating plot, you could be forgiven for getting lost, metaphorically, if you are a first time visitor. Recurrent callers at the mansion have been known to keel over, in enthrallment with the lavish treat.
The mansion is a testament of class. Outside, it is garlanded with carven imageries of arches and flowers, and bunches of knot-grass. Inside, it is ornamented with panes of quaint decor, embroidered fabric and devices. Its ambience of splendid dyes and luxury titivate like the damasked wings of the tiger-moth.
Such taste for luxury as displayed by Julius, it is often said, has ruined more poets and caused them to lose their wit, than ever did a taste for the gutters. Yet no poet or grand proponent of the high art could visit Rone’s mansion and totally lose it. Rather he or she would simply descend into the hallowed chambers of eternal muse. Julius’s manor no doubt, inspires the best of lyricism in the established poet and those apathetic to art.