Being assertive, dedicated, and ready to deliver quality service at all times are principles one needs to possess to drive a successful business, advises Nam Ice business owner Averell M. Loureiro.
Grounding his business motto on the American businessman and the pioneer of American radio and television, David Sarnoff’s famous quote; “The will to persevere is often the difference between failure and success,” Loureiro has, for the past two decades, through perseverance and hard-work, grown ‘Nam Ice’ from an operation in his home garage in 1994 to a secure business that leads the icemanufacturing market locally.
Nam Ice offers services such as of producing, packaging and delivering ice cubes. It also installs and services domestic water filters in homes, and is it is also part of an agency that supplies and services ice-manufacturing machines.
Loureiro, 63 years of age and a former Engen Station company employee, narrates his journey into entrepreneurship, which started 21-years ago, after having an epiphany when the ice-making machine belonging to his favorite nightclub (Moth club) was sold by the owners after it stopped working.
“I immediately bought the ice maker-machine from the Moth club at about N$50 at that time, took it to a friend that was working in the refrigeration industry for repair and installed it in the garage at my home in November 1994,” he recalls.
At that time, he remembers that it was not easy finding ice cubes in Windhoek, especially on weekends or after daily closure time of retailers. “At that time, not many of the current big retailers were around, only a few places were open and even those hardly had ice cubes in their items. It was just common to find ice cubes maybe in shebeens or bottle stores. Seeing that gap made me realize that I could do something about supplying ice cubes.”
He then invested in January of 1995 in buying auctioned second machines that he would repair and started operating from his garage; by the end of the year, he owned a new machine and had repaired four secondhand machines.
“The only problem about operating from my garage was that it would take so much electricity that it was nearly impossible to run the ice maker machines and the stove simultaneously. We then opted to cook food through microwaves to make it work. I then realized I needed to start looking for a new business premises,” he says.
As fate would have it, Loureiro was retrenched from his work in 1996, an event that was to inspire him to fully operate his business with only the sky being the limit.
“It was a blessing that I had already started my own business so it did not affect me, it rather gave me the opportunity of feeling the freedom to expand my vision with the sky being the only limit. Around the same time, the manager of the current station, where Nandos is located, offered me the option to take over the management of the station; which I did, and at the same time, it gave me a chance to use one of the rooms as my workshop for my Nam ice business although I kept its account separate from the service station’s one at all time and each business paid its own expenses,” he reminiscences.
After the acquisition of the service station in which he invested N$50 000 as part of his retrenchment package, he also acquired the ice machine agency, diversifying the business as he could now sell ice making machines.
“It is good to diversify, I started off as an ice producer; making, packaging and distributing. But as I wanted to make quality ice, I studied about water as it is different depending to where it comes from. I also studied water purification so I also diversified into water purification. In my ice cubes, the water is pre filtered and purified to reach the quality I sort out to achieve.”
He adds that he kept diversifying into the business as he learnt about ‘reverse osmosis’ also (water purification) and he bought his first purifying machine and started selling water to individuals besides selling domestic water purifiers in homes, which he also services. He also started installing and maintaining those machines at Fruit and Veg City in Windhoek.
“Diversification is important because it keeps running the business to its highest. In winter, our sales in ice cubes fall to just 5% of what we normally get, thus all the diversified ventures Nam Ice does keep the business on top, one needs to keep an open mind , reinventing and remaining innovative to make it,” he emphasizes on.
Loureiro stresses that the secret to growing a business is making sacrificies and to keep investing back into the business; “So I never invested into luxurious expenses such as fancy cars or holidays, I kept investing in the business. When the machines used in the factory would be two years old but in a very good condition, I would sell them with a 40% discount and would buy a new one. The first machine I acquired made 80 ice-cubes, the current machines make 5 times more.”
His clients, some of which he has been servicing for two decades include Olympia Service Station, Steins Garage, Bella Vista, Klein Windhoek Bottle Store, Arrebusch Travel Lodge, Theatre Service Station, Hochland Service Station, and Dros amongst others.
The peak season, he notes, is from September to May as it is the hot season and especially from November and December, as there are a lot of events happening. He usually supplies all the big events held annually such as Windhoek Jazz Festival, Color Festival and the Trade Fair. With a complement of six permanent employees and seasonally hiring part time employees for the peak season, he has also been operating from Southern Industrial for the past decade, in a place he finally purchased last year. Looking back at his business growth, he credits his hardwork, dedication and perseverance.
“If you want to make it big in business, you have to sacrifice, make sure you give excellent service and always be ready to deliver. My business is open 24 hours/ 7 days a week, even in winter. Of course if you keep persevering, more will come. So this current tendency of people trying to be rich in a day is guaranteed to crash if you do not plan appropriately,” he advises.
Serious about his social responsibility, Loureiro not only focuses on money making, but he also sponsors Namibia’s National Rugby Team and also one of Namibia’s leading and largest cycling events, The Namibian-Pick’ n Pay Cycle Classic.