In his late 50s, Paul Padua is an entrepreneur who has repaired automobiles for over 25 years. The Business Times’ SAUL BUTERA talked to him about his prevailing success in the business.
How and when did you get into this business?
I went to a technical school in 1971 in Uganda for four years. I went for my practical experience in a police workshop for six months then went back to study.
After the studies I worked with the police workshop for two years, joined Uganda transport company (UTC) were I worked for four years. In 1978 I went back to school for my A level, while there I got a job in Kenyan transport company called KENATCO, where I worked until 1983.
In 1983, I started my own garage repairing heavy commercial tracks. I employed a qualified mechanic who was known by people from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.
KENATCO was declared bankrupt so I formed a company called Road Ways Mechanical Workshop and I got all KENATCO clients. I owned Road Ways Mechanical Workshop from 1983 to 1996. I was then called by the government to come back home and rebuild the country like any other Rwandan.
In 1996 I worked with a company called Pack Motors until 2002. That is when I started my garage called Prime Auto Care Garage.
How qualified is your staff?
I have six qualified mechanics with what we call Grade 1 and Grade 6 semi-skilled mechanics. Am quite satisfied with their work because I always help them when ever there is a problem, at the moment am not complaining about their work.
What about this kind of business in Rwanda? How do you rate it?
Compared to other businesses, we would be doing good business but most of the time clients disappoint us, they don’t pay us on time. If we could be paid in time the business would be very good and this tendency is everywhere.
Do you face any challenges in this kind of business?
Yes I do, delay of payments is one of them. Another is that we order for spare parts and some times don’t match with the spares we are looking for, yet these spare parts are very expensive.
This means you have to send it back. Sometimes the dealer declines to take it back or exchange it for another. So you have to purchase a new part.
What are the future plans for Prime Auto Care Garage?
If you manage a garage, you have to also own spare parts of all kinds. PACG’s future plan is to have its own spare parts not just ordering them.
These spares are needed at that time because clients need their cars to be working as fast as possible, so sending for a spare part is too much time consuming because a client has to wait for days for his car to be fixed. Getting these spare parts it needs a lot capital but I am working on it.
Is PACG specialising in a given type of automobiles?
You can’t specialize in this country, because there are very many garages and you will not be doing business if you start specialising. PACG deals in every type of motor vehicles.
Any massage to upcoming coming entrepreneurs?
One has to be determined, committed and principled in order to manage this kind of business. You can’t succeed if you don’t have these three things and you have to also be knowledgeable because this is a demanding job, you can’t wake-up one day and just start this kind of business.