Elizade Motors is not strange to many Nigerians as the name is the parent company of Toyota cars in Nigeria, but there is a man that runs and control this multi-million dollar business empire. The success story of Nigerian Dollar multi-millionaire Michael Ade-Ojo, the founder and CEO of the Elizade Group of companies should be a case study for anyone who wants to go into the automotive business in Nigeria.
In the beginning
Chief Michael was born in Nigeria on June 14, 1938, to two modest parents in Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State. At a very young age, he became a street vendor and started selling charcoal, food, & firewood to help make ends meet.
He was born in a time when there was little to no financial aid for the less privileged, and parents believed a lot lesser in education, yet he still successfully made it through high school, and later got a degree in Business Administration from the university.
After his graduation, he joined the workforce at CFAO motors; a French distribution company. This same company had paid the tuition for his last two years in the university.
In 1966, while still working as a salesman for CFAO motors, he successfully sold 20 trucks to the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria, but to his dismay, his manager took credit for the sale, which led to a protest by Michael, followed with him losing his job by the end of the year.
After his ousting at CFAO motors, he moved on and got a job at British Petroleum (BP). Within three months of his employment, he increased the sales of his local division by 25%. But just as he was unfortunate with his previous employment, his new boss took credit for the outstanding growth, and this left him aggrieved and lost in thoughts. (No be only Naija dey do fraud, oyinbo people sef na real wayo)
As the popular adage says, when life gives you a lime, make a lemonade out of it. Chief Micheal has every course to stay put in his BP job and be contented, but he decided to take a risky but eventful decision. While in Lagos, Nigeria, during his annual British Petroleum (BP) holiday, he decided to take a daring step to approach the RT Brisco Group; an importer and distributor of trucking and automobile equipment. He made them an offer to sell their equipment for a commission on every successful sale.
After careful consideration, the RT Brisco Group decided to give him a trial. In just four months after he sealed the deal with Brisco, he sold about 40 cars. The commissions earned from the total sales were overwhelmingly higher than his yearly salary at BP. This motivated him to quit his job, and pursue his dreams.
In 1971, he started the company, Elizade Independent Agencies (EIA), with his wife, Elizabeth Wuraola Ojo. The name Elizade, was derived from both his wife’s name, Elizabeth, and his name, Ade. His company focused on the distribution of automobiles in Nigeria, especially Japanese cars.
He acquired the license to import Toyota Cars, with the name, Toyota Nigeria Limited, and single-handedly, made the car brand, the most sought-after automobile brand in Nigeria. He later went on to acquire 100% of RT Briscoe in Nigeria, and subsequently acquired more shares, to make his total holdings in Toyota Nigeria Limited, sum up to 74%.
The brand Elizade Motors Group
Today, his conglomerate consists of Toyota Nigeria Limited, RT Briscoe Nigeria, Elizade Auto Land, Classic Motors Limited, Crow Motors Nigeria Limited, Elizade University, Okin Travels Limited, and a host of other investments. He’s also on the board of directors of several Nigeria banks and other companies such as Ecobank, First City Monument Bank, and SMT Nigeria Limited (the official distributors of Mack trucks, Volvo trucks, & Volvo Construction Equipments).
Never be too comfortable in your present position, that you can making millions from the job never meant you can’t make more when you innovate.