Ambitious and focused; these are the attributes that best describe Henry Olofin, Chairman/CEO Meibach Nigeria Limited, which is at the forefront of raising the bar for construction innovation and the sole authorized agent for Dainish Concrete Hardener in Nigeria. Olofin is a die-hard of Project Nigeria and he is on a mission to reposition the Nigerian Building sector towards a global standard practice. Savvy tech Olofin is brilliant no doubt and calling him a visionary will be an understatement. His consistency and unrelenting zeal to excel and conquer new terrain points to him as a Nigerian corporate player to watch, writes Funke Olaode
His appearance contradicts his intellectual prowess. Petite, and soft-spoken. And it may not be wrong if he is simply addressed as the small one with a giant intellectual acumen. These are very a few attributes that best describe Henry Olofin who is gradually throwing Nigeria into the international world through Danish Concrete Hardener and construction innovation which was recently introduced into the Nigerian market. The new product if embraced will no doubt change the face of building construction in Nigeria.
Henry Olofin is a Nigeria/Danish entrepreneur who is very passionate about his country. At just 16, Henry Olofin defies paradigms. Before leaving the shores of Nigeria in the 90s, Olofin has picked up the gauntlet from his school days at Corpus Christi College, Ilawe- Ekiti to break the odds in acquiring Technological and Aeronautical Engineering which was not offered by any Nigerian University. Olofin proceeded to acquire International Civil aviation training at the prestigious Serra Academy of Aeronautics at Oakland, California USA. Undaunted and with guts and heart, young Olofin went further to realize his dream by enrolling for further studies at Odense Technical College, Denmark as well as Lillebaelt Academy of Professional Higher Education in Vejle, Denmark. Olofin who is always regarded as tech-savvy also attended the University of Westminster, London, UK and his wealth of experience has taken him across Europe, America, and the Middle East.
As fate would have it, instead of emerging in a cockpit flying at a minimum 35,000 altitude, Olofin took charge at the European biggest building support and advisory company and also honed his skills at Norwegian oil fields as a technical maintenance expert.
He learned the business of building the materials so successfully and artfully by joining the leading Danish Building Materials and Advisory Company. Being a technocrat he teamed up with a Ghanaian partner to found Afriscanlink I/S Consortium to engage foreign investors and entrepreneurs on the vast investment potentials in Nigeria. Today, he is the Chairman/CEO Meibach Nigeria Limited which is at the forefront of raising the bar for construction innovation and the sole authorized agent for Danish Concrete Hardener in Nigeria.
Throwing more light on his mission and vision in Nigeria, Olofin said his mission is to contribute his quota to the development of Nigeria. “I started a consulting company in Demark, consulting to bring investment into Nigeria, through FDI or product or anything that I find interesting in the Nigerian market. So I did that for a couple of years and then I met a Ghanaian man who was also doing the same thing for Ghana, trying to bring something back to Ghana. So we sat down and discussed at length about the issues that we are facing individually. When I came to Nigeria, the issues that I faced when I tried to bring something into Nigeria, how I ran into a lot of obstacles and how the foreign investors also ran into obstacles in Nigeria. So we thought to lead by example, you are a Ghanaian and I am a Nigerian, let’s start the unity and show people that this continent is for black people to unite. So we threw away my own company and threw away his own company and started a new one.
He added: ”We conceived the idea of bringing this new product to Nigeria two years ago because we believe we have to take our destiny into our own hand. You know when you talk about Nigeria to an investor or a businessman, or a product manufacturer; he will say ‘Nigeria! I heard this about the country and I heard that about the country. That they are corrupt, they are difficult, and they can steal your money, your product.’ It is not easy trying to convince people to come to Nigeria, take that from me, it is hell, in fact, it is even worse than hell. But when you mention Ghana, people say oh yes, Ghana is moving, let’s talk about Ghana, for me it’s annoying.
There is a company that I have been having a relationship with since 2012 in this building renovation, they have a very fantastic product, I love this product and I want to use that product, I want to use that product in my own personal house. Coming back to this product, it is fantastic, it is unique and it is not the kind of product that you just mix cement and you put it inside,” he said
Talking glowing about this innovation in building technology, Olofin said it is a product that must be embraced by stakeholders in building a business because it has been tested and trusted. According to him, “This particular concrete hardener is for post-curing treatment of concrete walls, concrete floors, and any concrete construction. You don’t apply it while building or while mixing the concrete.
Like in Lekki for example, you have this water logging area, wet walls, and some places around there that have wet walls, you use this product to treat it. And like a typical example of a renovation, let’s say you have a wall that is already full of haggy and wet, what you do with this product is that you take the old plaster out, and plaster a new one, when you are done with that you apply this product. Anything you do, the wall will be safe from acid, if you pour acid on it, and it won’t penetrate. From water-logging, from chemicals, from the sun, you just have basically granite like a wall.
Does it mean that it is only suitable for the waterside area? “No. was his reply. “It is suitable for everywhere; every building in Nigeria, every structure in Nigeria is suitable for it. It is like three products in one, but they can be combined according to specification. You have floor hardener, wall hardener and you have block hardener, highways, and heavy traffic construction. Those products can be chemically combined, and when I say chemically, it is not toxic; you can put it in your mouth. The colour is like water. And even the tools you use, after using them you can just rinse them with water because it is not cured yet. Like floors most especially, it is really, really good for floors, like the German floors in churches, schools, supermarkets, all those heavy traffic floors where you drive trailers, like warehouses. It is even good for road construction. This is a place where concretes have a way of shaping off after long usage, this one will make it just remain there. You have a flat surface for as long as you want. So it is a unique product in the sense and I think Nigeria is the best place for it.”
This product has been in existence in Denmark for four years and is widely known in Europe. The company has gone to Dubai to actually demonstrate that with the application of this product you can make the sand from the desert into a building material. And that is fantastic and I think that is an achievement that nobody can beat. It is working in Dubai.
Olofin is a diehard Nigerian who shuns negativity as he believes every country has its social challenges. He believes in FDI and brings in investors will boost the Nigerian economy. “I believe in this country because it is our country. It is not all negative, I believe in the good in people, I believe that when Nigerian see a good product they also appreciate it.”
On his mission and vision for his new product, Olofin said it will open windows of opportunities “My vision for this product actually is that Nigerians will embrace it to the point that it will erase the skepticism and have the courage to believe in it because of the benefits it will offer. One, Nigerians will have a good product that makes their houses as it erases sudden building collapse. And more than anything it will create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths.”
For Olofin, staying abroad for over two decades hasn’t waned his love for Nigeria. “The thing that endeared me to Nigeria is that Nigeria is a fantastic country. Honestly, Nigerians are one of the best people in the world. I have witnessed a lot of ups and down about Nigerian history but all in all, I think Nigerians are kind-hearted people. They are very, very good people in Nigeria. The potential is just great and I just love it. So, my love for Nigeria is not something I can just write in a simple word. Despite all the negativities I still love it here, I love the people.”
As Olofin winds up his interaction with this reporter, he dropped a hint for the Nigerian government and its Diaspora mantra. “Well, there has always been an emphasis on the Diaspora. It is good to engage Diaspora people but I always mention this everywhere I go that not all Diaspora people are good for Nigeria strategically. You know what most people have been out of Nigeria for over 20 years, I interact with a lot of people, I went to school and did all that, but the thing is that most Diaspora people are not good for Nigeria who suddenly believe Nigeria will become London.
That is a very bad dream to have and if you engage those people in the government they are going to destroy everything. Mind you, I said most but not all, some people are still very, very useful. But at the same time being a Diaspora person with a big, big certificate and big, big experience, they are a good tactical and operational weapon in our arsenal. I and my partner, Olufemi Koffi Shina, we came to Abuja in 2012 to promote green energy that was during Prof. Bart Nnaji’s time, we ended up in the circle of bureaucracy. I will advise the government to always use personnel or technocrat on the ground to tackle Nigeria’s problems, be it in infrastructural development, security, etc. As said, Diaspora people are good but the home-based player is already grounded, familiar with the terrain and will easily identify where the shoe pinches,” he stated.