Designing wood for a living
Posted Tuesday, February 18 2014 at 02:02
Woodwork has been his livelihood for over 20 years
Lucrative niche. In his teenage years, David Kigongo realised that he was passionate about making art pieces from wood. He then translated this passion into a career and prosperous business in woodwork.
Doors and piles of timber lean against the inside wall of the workshop located at his residence in Namungoona while other consignments are packed in boxes ready to be delivered to the owners.
“Those in boxes are kitchen units [cabins] which I will be taking to a customer’s home for fixing,” David Kigongo, the Davik Timber Users proprietor, says as he shows us around his workshop located in the middle of the building that also houses a small showroom on the right and his home on the far left.
Kigongo says he has done jobs ranging from handling big orders from private companies and non-governmental organisations to small ones such as making single pieces of furniture for individual orders.
His products range from office furniture to home furniture such as wardrobes, kitchen units, dining tables, beds, sideboards, sofa sets, trolleys and doors.
Prices range between Shs1.5 million and Shs2.5 million per metre for wardrobes, depending on the wood type, Shs500,000 per metre for the kitchen top unit and Shs530,000 per metre for the kitchen unit base.
The dining table ranges from Shs1.5 million and above depending on the number of seats, design and timber while doors cost Shs500,000.
Although he does not advertise, Kigongo notes that the high quality of his work is the only advertising channel he uses.
“If you produce quality products, everything will work in your favour. I don’t advertise but clients advertise for me. Most people come to me through referrals,” he says.
He adds: “Marketing comes at its own price and the simplest way one can market himself is by supplying quality products to create a good reputation for the business, so that the clients do marketing for you.”
Kigongo overcame challenges to grow his furniture-making enterprise
In his journey, Kigongo counts a number of achievements including buying a piece of land where he constructed his workshop and a yet-to-be completed mini-showroom. He is also currently constructing a double storeyed building in the same area for his family home.
The enterprise is currently estimated at Shs200 million, inclusive of the workshop.
Although the industry looks crowded and is unregulated, the father of three says he has beat off competition and stand outs from other furniture makers because of the quality of his work.
“My products make my clients smile and in the end, I have them referring new ones to me,” he notes.
Kigongo says Uganda’s carpentry sub-sector faces a lot of opposition from environmentalists who argue that the carpenters’ work is destructive to the environment.
He, however, notes that ensuring the production of quality furniture is the only way to save the environment as it takes less timber.
Limited skilled labour hurts his business
The 46-year-old’s biggest challenge has been inadequate skilled labour which he says constrains his work.
“It is hard to get people who have the skill to produce quality work the way I want it,” he says, adding that although he keeps on training people, they often move on to start their own workshops,” he explains.