BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka
“THE last shall be first, the first shall be last,” so goes the saying, but for Lucas Leonard Ngulube, even becoming the second still defies the odds of being the last.Rising to being second in command at Wonderful Group of companies was an achievement for him initially.
He was for long spells the right-hand man to Huang Yaochi, the chairman of Wonderful Group of Companies.
However, the realisation that he had reached the ceiling in terms of promotion compelled Mr Ngulube to step out and become his own employer.
“I worked for five years. I started as a factory manager and resigned as group executive officer. I propelled the company from one entity to now a group of companies,” Mr Ngulube said of his stay at Wonderful Group.
After leaving the firm, he revived his company, which was engaged in construction and general dealing.
Mr Ngulube has also formed a recycling company.
“The position I last held at Wonderful had no room for a promotion because I was second from the owner of the company. I wanted to excel. I could not leave Wonderful Group to work as a manager elsewhere because that was going to be a demotion definitely. I had to resign at Wonderful because I wanted to use the remaining ideas I had, the knowledge that I acquired from there, to do my own thing,” Mr Ngulube says.
Since he was already in the construction business, Mr Ngulube decided to get back and establish Allcas Enterprises.
His company was formed for service delivery and bringing efficient business acumen in the construction industry.
“The company has been formed to provide specialised technical, training and consultancy. This company has been formed with the premise of employing the young, energetic and skilled personnel,” Mr Ngulube, a graduate of electrical engineering from the University of Zambia, says.
While at Wonderful, Mr Ngulube had developed a passion in waste management.
This motivated him to acquire machinery to recycle plastics and contribute to cleaning the environment.
“So far I am into construction, metal fabrication, recycling and consultancy. I am not a big company, but with time, my dream of being a chairman of a group of companies like my former boss, who has inspired me, will be fulfilled,” Mr Ngulube says.
Mr Ngulube has so far created 20 permanent jobs and approximately 50 people benefit whenever his firm has big contracts.
“I would like to do more. But lending institutions now are asking for higher interest rates which are in turn hindering our progress. My plans are to have more recycling companies which will contribute to keeping Lusaka and Zambia clean,” he says.
In recycling, Mr Ngulube wants to go beyond plastics but other pollutants as well.
Mr Ngulube has so far done projects with the European Union, Italian Embassy, the United Nations Development Programme and some government institutions.
“I have successfully completed to the satisfaction of the clients,” he said.
Mr Ngulube is urging those in employment not to wait for retirement in order to start business.
“The time is now. We don’t go to school just to graduate and start working for other people. Let’s use the knowledge we acquired at school to become our own bosses. Let’s work towards creating wealth for ourselves other than waiting and blaming the Government every day,” he said.
He is willing to offer free consultancy services to people in employment for graduates intending to set up their own businesses.
“Let’s not be comfortable with the jobs that we have today because they won’t last. You don’t have to do exactly what I am doing but you can do your own thing and contribute to the creation of employment, wealth and growth of the economy of the only Zambia we have,” Mr Ngulube says.
Mr Ngulube says he is happier now being on his own.
He is encouraged by his former boss at Wonderful Group, Mr Huang.
“Mr Huang Yaochi has been of great help to me even after leaving Wonderful. He encourages me to soldier on and has faith in me and my success,” Mr Ngulube says.
His employment record stretches from Zesco Limited based in Luangwa district where he worked for two years as a technician-in-charge.
“I left Zesco because I wanted to be more practical than just being in the office. I later started repairing radios and television sets at Matero market in Lusaka and moved on to doing electrical installations in areas such as Kamwala, Kamwala South, Libala South, Chilenje and surrounding areas before they developed to their current state,” he says.
From there, Mr Ngulube was forced to join Quadrant Motors as filling station manager.
“I was there for less than a year and decided to quit. I then continued with my private jobs and learnt a lot of skills from my field work. I can professionally do plumbing, welding, carpentry, bricklaying, tiling, painting and roofing. I later started repairing computers in City market,” Mr Ngulube said.
During this period, he was hired by the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) to manage the construction project there.
“I was instrumental in making sure that the swimming pool had water a few days before the Zone Six Games together with my good friend Solomon Kazembe. I successfully managed the project of constructing a 50-room lodge which was abandoned by another construction company at OYDC. It was at this point that Mr Huang, spotted my hard work and invited me to do some private jobs for him,” he said.
Mr Huang later invited Mr Ngulube to Wonderful Ceiling Company as a factory manager.
“I humbly accepted to help him grow the company. From factory manager, I became administration manager and later rose to the position of group executive officer, all this within a space of four years,” he says.
During this period, Mr Ngulube and Mr Huanga worked tirelessly to form five other companies within the Wonderful industry and created several jobs.
“I enjoyed working at Wonderful because my interaction with workers made me more exposed to new skills and interacting with high ranking officials,” he says.
The second in a family of 10 – two boys and eight girls – Mr Ngulube was born on October 25, 1977 in Lusaka.
His father, Leonard Ngulube, was a civil servant, while his mother, Christine Ngoma, was a house manager.
He did his primary school at Chitanda and secondary school education at Munali.
During his education, his father had financial challenges given the big family as all the children were going to school.
Mr Ngulube pays credit to his parents for the discipline they instilled in the children.
“I grew up not choosing what to eat and wear. I used to sell fritters before and after school. My name was even changed to ‘Luka Matobamutwe’ (fritters made from mealie meal). Others used to call me ‘Luka Bare because I would go to school without a pair of shoes. I sold sugar cane from Chunga township. I went round the compounds and streets of Emmasdale to sell fresh milk. I sold salaula clothes at Mandevu market. I did odd jobs like digging rubbish pits. I slept in the same room with broiler chickens. All this was to help mum and dad take me and my siblings to school,” he remembers.
He used to walk from Matero to Munali every day to attend school.
“This was a challenge for me until I transferred to Nyenyezi Secondary School, which was near home,” he says.
At primary, Mr Ngulube was in a drama club and performed a lot of comedy at secondary level he was the head of the debate club for three consecutive years.