Steering family business after three decades
Posted Tuesday, March 5 2013 at 02:00
Over three decades in business. For about three decades, Walusimbi’s Garage has spanned through the years dealing in the murky waters of motor vehicle dealership.
He ventured where many Ugandans could not even dream of building a legacy that has stretched about four decades. Yafesi Walusimbi Mpanga (RIP) broke the stereotypes that had made many believe that motor vehicle dealership was a business for foreigners.
In 1927 when Toyota Motor Corporation was searching for its brand representative in Uganda, Mr Walusimbi took up the opportunity rewriting the long held norm of foreigners owning motor vehicle dealership. “He had the requirements that the corporation was looking for and as such it was easy for him to get the dealership,” says Mr Isaac Kyazze, the Walusimbi Garage sales and marketing manager.
The facility is a comprehensive dealership selling motor vehicles spare parts as well as serving.
Situated in the heart of Kampala, Walusimbi’s Garage has weathered the storm indicating a positive business environment portrayed through its sales.
Key success factors
Mr Kyazze attributes the success and resilience of Walusimbi’s Garage to four critical factors, including trustworthy, government policies, and the Toyota brand quality and product performance. He says Mr Walusimbi was a very honest and trustworthy man, so he managed to work well with the Japanese.
This, coupled with other factors like government policy gave Mr Walusimbi an edge especially in the 70s and early 80s. During the 70s the government discouraged the importation of used vehicles, so dealers in brand new vehicles had no competition from importers of used motor.
Mr Walusimbi’s Garage is one of the few companies in Uganda that have outlived their founder and the secret behind this, says Mr Kyazze, is the involvement of the family members in the business.
By the time Mr Walusimbi died, family members were already involved in the business, so it continued even after his death.
Today, three family members are directly involved in the management of the company. The person managing the business is Mr Walusimbi’s widow, while two sons are directors overseeing finance and logistics management respectively.
The family has kept alive the values and the principle of the founder, the reason the company flourishes. The future of family business in Uganda requires that members are engaged on the onset especially on critical factors that determine the future of the business.
One unique thing about Walusimbi’s Garage is the religious factor in the corporate culture of the company. ‘We respect each one’s religion, ...we have a team of spiritual leaders’, says Mr Kyazze, adding that priests from Christ the King Parish and elsewhere often celebrate Mass at the company’s premises. This, according to Mr Kyazze, is another of Mr Walusimbi’s legacies, which tell of the story of how he conducted himself in matters of religion.
Walusimbi at a glance
One of the very first people to venture into the real estate business in Uganda, Mr Walusimbi was also the Mayor of Kampala during Amin’s time. Unlike today’s office which is political and elective, the mayorship of the day was more of a voluntary service.