|I owe award to professionalism: ZNCC top winner|
|Tuesday, 12 June 2012 18:52|
THE Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce 2011 Manicaland businessman of the year, Mr Chamunorwa Chiurungo, has attributed the accolade to professionalism, excellent negotiating skills and God.
Mr Chiurungo — the man behind one of the leading giant hardwares in the province, Mainkep Trading (Pvt Ltd), which specialises in plumbing, electrical, timber and engineering products also believes that there is a blessing in every adversity.
After spending several months wandering outside the now defunct timber company, PG Zimboard gates waiting for a job, the youthful Chiurungo was employed as a general hand who would sometimes offload timber and later became a timber clerk at the same company in the mid-1990s.
He was later elevated to being a human resources officer and became a procurement clerk in 1998. In what he best describes as a turning point, the 43-year-old businessman resigned and joined his former manager, Mr Mike Chihamba, who had left PG to form his own company, Gamcore Forest which was situated at the Murahwa Green Market in Sakubva.
"I became the Gamcore manager after I studied marketing with ICM (UK exam board) and I managed to change the fortunes of the company especially from the period 2002 to 2004. That is when I realised the potential in me. Gamcore became a big company which supplied timber around the country. We were successful to say the least."
The unexpected, however, happened in March 2005 after Mr Chihamba decided to sell the company and left for Australia.
He said although Mr Chihamba's untimely departure was a big blow, he realised that there was a blessing in every adversity.
"It was really a painful moment as I had settled down. This was, however, a blessing in disguise. From my exit package I managed to buy a tractor from him (Mr Chihamba) before he left and leased one of his mobile sawmill. My experience in the timber industry helped me so much and I went to Troutbeck, Nyanga to start my saw milling business. I had a dream. I always wanted to open a timber yard in the CBD in Mutare and in Glenview 8 in Harare. I did exactly that.
"I would buy and sell timber in Harare and with the little profit I realised, I purchased tractors. The period 2007-2009 was a difficult one for the business fraternity since in this line of business we faced an acute shortage of tractors and sawmill spares which left us with no option, but to struggle to acquire spares from regional countries.
"Competition was another challenge since the major timber suppliers always dominated the industry and it was really difficult for us small companies to pull through. It was a moment I realised that I had to be strong as ever. I also realised that where there is a will there is a way.
"We kept timber stocks up until the dollarisation era and it was a strategy which worked. Just after that period, Mainkep was born. Larger companies and prominent businesspersons like Halsteds, Mazara Transport, Hlanganiso Matangaidze of Matan Holdings are my great inspiration because I always have something to learn from them.
"From then, as Mainkep Hardware, we started supplying general hardware which includes building, plumbing, electrical and engineering products, but I never stopped concentrating in the saw milling business as well," he said.
Mainkep Trading supplies various hardware products to farmers, mines and schools in Manicaland province and beyond.
As part of giving back to the society, Mr Chiurungo a devout Methodist Church in Zimbabwe Hauna-Headlands Circuit Steward built a church in Buhera for the community in 2011.
Mainkep also supports organisations like Simukai and Chengetai and occasionally donates building materials to schools and hospitals. Mr Chiurungo, who grew up in Buhera hopes to see Mainkep listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and open another branch in Mozambique.
He said copying from business competitors has always been his tried and tested strategy.
Among other attributes, he described himself as a hardworking people-oriented leader, who has a great ability to pay creditors in time.
"We look after our creditors and now I am happy that almost everyone wants to supply our company with stocks. I also have dedicated and experienced staff since I train them on my own. I am an honest man who always remits my taxes to the Government and look after my creditors and stakeholders. Resting is the last thing a person should do and I encourage everyone to work hard and be honest. I have never stopped believing in God and I appreciate all what he has been doing to me including giving me a lovely and supportive wife. I also want to urge everyone to plough back to the community they come from," he said.