Ezekiel Adamu’s entry into the events planning and management industry has given the enterprise a face lift; suffice to say his numerous works are loud testament to this claim. Ezekiel, the son of popular sports administrator, Amos Adamu spoke to ORUKPE NELSON, about his business, family and the ideals that shape his life.
There’s an exquisite marquee at Oceanview, in Victoria Island, Lagos, where D’banj’s anniversary concert was held and I was told you owns it. Did you make that provision exclusively for the event?
Basically, we do template structures, what you saw at the Oceanview was a partnership between Balmora and Eko Hotels and it’s going to be there for a period of time and it’s going to be used for different kinds of occasion. So, in what you saw, we did a different setting for that occasion and we continue to do different settings to suit all forms of events in the marquee.
You’ve managed to separate your personality from the thriving business so much that not many know your face. How do you run this business without stamping your face on it?
I won’t say I’ve been quiet really; I would just say that I provide a different kind of service. Our services are like tailor-made for our clients. So, we cannot really make noise because our clients know what we do and when they need us, they’d come to us. Our service is about event engineering. Marquee is just an aspect of our events services; we design the inside of the structures the way you want it. We started with marquee but now we extended the tentacles. We can build a club, a stadium, wrestling arena, or any kind of an arena that can be imagined, we will deliver it. We do different events for multinationals and individuals who want unique deliveries.
How long is Balmora now?
It’s nine years now and we’ll be hitting 10 just next year.
Are you going to be celebrating your tenth anniversary next year?
Absolutely! We’re planning something very big.
Events centres are springing up everywhere around Lagos and in major cities across the country; what makes your company special?
For us, our values basically make us stay ahead in our game. Our values include, first, clients’ satisfaction, employee loyalty is the second and continuous improvement is the last. We try to improve all the time, competition is good and we believe in it. It has even helped us to go stronger. We go out of the country to see what they’re doing in different parts of the world. We imbue this in the service we render and it naturally becomes a feat to beat. We are always ahead of our game. I remember when we started this events business, a lot of companies had to bring professionals into the country to do set ups, but it hardly happens nowadays.
People now come to us directly and we give them ideas on what to do and they do it.
We’ve reduced the rate at which people relied on expatriates for the purpose of setting up venues for events. We’re not there yet, but we’re working towards.
Innovation is at the heart of your events centres, Balmora, The Haven look and other centres under your watch, how did you hone your skills in evolving with ideas to make each have a distinct outlook?
Well, as you’re probably aware, I read a lot of books. Any business you want to be successful in, you must read widely. If you find successful businessmen who read a lot of books, you’d find out that most businesses they’re successful in do not just happen by accident. People will think that they were born with it, but that’s not mostly what the true story is. Sometimes, when our manufacturers in Germany, see our structures they’d send emails to us that, ‘please can you help us design this and that?’ They are wowed by the fact that we can evolve marquees now to make it look like concrete structures, permanent buildings.
I feel like going for exhibitions and going to manufacturing companies and see that there’s actually nothing out of this world in what they offer.
It’s just a matter of human beings coming together, brainstorming and evolving with ideas they’d put to use.
The more you fail, the more you learn. Success many times is born out of failure. With Balmora, we tried to change a couple of times but failed because there would be leakages here and there. We got better along the way.
Your company may well be going Pan African because you take your services across the continent…
That’s correct because we’ve catered for the African Union summit and we go to Ghana, Togo, Cameroun and we provide consultancy service for some companies in South Africa.
How do you handle the pressure when you have more than three jobs at different locations?
We have the capacity to do up to 10 jobs in a day at different locations. It depends on the size of the job. A job might just be one and you need all the hands on deck.
What’s your company’s staff strength?
We have 200 workers, comprising contract and permanent staff. Sometimes we get casual workers and we number about 300.
Has there been any situation that almost sent you out of business?
Business is not easy, I must confess because there are times that even people who are on paid jobs are better than us. To start with, you always have that issue of power, manpower, but people get by it. Finally, you’d look at the situation and see a lot of people have survived these whole issues. I look at the survivors and emulate them. There’s always going to be an excuse for failure.
About five years ago, Balmora Hall caught fire which completely razed the facility in the middle of a major event. In two weeks, you fixed the hall and returned ashes to beauty. What feeling does that convey now?
Looking back now, I think it was a blessing. Sometimes, if God will move you to another level, he’d try you with something and it depends on how you react to them. I can look back at that incident and say that our growth is born out of that because since then, we’ve never looked back. We rebuilt it in less than two weeks and in less than a year, we built The Haven. We havea new one now and we’ve built different event centres for people around the country. You see what I mean by saying we’ve grown a lot from that particular incident. It has made us stronger and it has made us to know that there’s nothing impossible to do.
Your kind of business rarely allows you enjoy a long leisure time, how do you spend the few ones you get?
That’s very correct. The little time I get, I hang around with my family because I hardly see my kids and wife, so I try hard to spend time with them.
I make my Sundays usually available for them. Maybe when I have to go outside an event, I’d make sure that after the event on Saturday, I’d try as much as possible to return home to spend time with my family. I hang out with friends a lot too.
Some are already saying that your success in business is a credit to your dad, Amos Adamu, who tilled the land for fame and fortune you now ride on, how true is this?
I’ll say yes in a way, but it’s not particularly based on getting me contracts or clients. I get jobs basically from referrals from clients who have been satisfied with the quality of service we gave to them. He has influenced my life, a great man and someone I look up to. He’s gone through a lot and I profit from all he’d been through. He’s someone who always advises me on what I want to do, so Iwill say yes, he’s been a positive influence on me. Though some people will still say maybe I get all these jobs from him, I don’t think so. He couldn’t have pushed me for nine years. He has helped us along the way, no doubt.
How many kids do you have?
I have two kids, my daughter and my son.
How did you meet your wife?
I met my wife when I was in secondary school in Lagos and went our separate ways. We met exactly when we were doing our WASCE. Our path crossed again when we returned to Nigeria after we schooled in the UK and like they say, the rest is history.
Many celebrity marriages pack up too early. How have you helped to sustain yours?
I will say that I’ve learnt that from my dad and my mom. My dad was also very busy with his career and I saw the value he brought. He was always away but he tried as much as possible to make up that time while he was at home with us. It was a very large family. We had a lot of cousins with us in the house.
How do you jerk back to life in times of despair?
Like I said earlier on, I read a lot and I know from experience that people go through this a lot. In any situation I find myself, I put myself in a character’s shoes and survive just as I have read about the person. For example, when that fire incident happened at Balmora Hall, I read a book by Napoleon Hill and it talks about Thomas Edison that invented electric light bulb and he mentioned how he worked on the bulb for over 20-years, his shed got burnt and everyone thought that he was going to commit suicide. They thought so because he’d been working on it for years and then the next thing he told his son was: ‘Do you have anyone who rents a tractor? It’s time to rebuild.’ His son felt like: ‘Dad, are you insane?’ I use that to brace myself. Immediately the inferno happened, I woke the following morning feeling; ‘it’s time to rebuild.’ I move on by reading a lot of books and putting myself in the shoes of many characters.
Do you take some alcohol at leisure?
Of course, but I’m a social drinker.
What’s your brand?
Nowadays, I love Orijin.
Do you remember the last date you had with your wife without the kids?
It was two weeks ago. We went to a restaurant, a sea food restaurant.
What has been your favourite Valentine’s gift from your wife?
I can’t place it honestly, because it’s been different sweet experiences.
Okay, what was the last Valentine’s gift she gave you?
It was a pair of slippers because she knows I love to wear native outfit a lot. It was a very nice one and I was going to send someone to get it for me, but she surprised me with it.
Men about your age naturally like cars, are you a car freak?
I love cars, honestly I do. I love fast and good cars.
Which one is your favourite?
Porshe is my favourite for now.
Where do you see Balmora in five years?
I see our presence in most of the states in Nigeria.
Growing up, did you have a nickname?
Yes, I was called Easy, my whole family calls me Easy and my friends too. They coined it from my name, Ezekiel. A lot of people don’t even know my full name.
What’s your current state of mind?
I feel very relaxed and blessed.
If you weren’t doing this kind of business, what else would you be doing in life?
I think I got this part of me from my dad. I just constantly feel like adding value to lives. Sometimes, I see some problems that should have solutions in people’s lives and I just wish that I was part of the solution. I just want to make my living and life by solving problems for people. I would be out there solving problems for people in any capacity, but I cannot tell which one in particular.
On a larger scale, would you help to better people’s lives by joining politics?
I feel like you can actually serve people outside politics. There are lots of people who do that. In Nigeria, the most people who influence lives are not even into politics. I would not say politics is the only way to touch lives. I’m not looking in that direction at the moment at all.
What did you study at the university?
I read Computer Science at the University of Lutonan for my Master’s Degree, I went to University of Portsmouth and studied financial business analysis.