Vanessa Evans is the managing director of multi-billion Rongai Workshop and Transport Limited, one of the leading transport and logistics companies in Kenya. She has successfully managed to steer the company into one of the best in the transport industry.
The business was founded by Vanessa’s late father Gordon Eccles in 1947 in Rongai, Nakuru, originally as an agricultural workshop supplying and servicing machinery and building trailers for the rural farming community in the area.
He then diversified into transportation of milk and farm produce before he ventured into refurbishing old Leyland vehicles to transport his sisal from Rongai to Mombasa. This was three years later.
Eccles then proceeded to recruit drivers, mechanics and body builders, as he expanded his business.
“My father was an honest man who was keen on business ethics and whose legacy has made the company remain relevant in the market today. He paid attention to customer needs,’’ Vanessa told Business Daily during an interview in 2013.
She took over leadership of the businessafter her father passed away in 2010.
Vanessa revealed that her father, Mr. Eccles’ succession began long before his death. He had detailed to them how he wanted his investments run and they were comfortable with it.
Mr. Eccles did not leave behind a will but his family did not crumble in the fight for wealth. Instead, the family has smoothly run the business, continuously making strides. As of 2013, the company was fully family-owned with Mrs Eccles as the largest shareholder while Vanessa and her three sisters held equal shares in the company.
By 2013, the company had employed over 230 people directly and had annual turnover of Ksh900 million.
According to the company website, Ronga Workshop & Transport Limited has a fleet size of over 100 prime movers with 117 skeletal 20’/40’ skeletal trailers with load capacities of up to 30 tons providing great flexibility for our customers’ needs. It also has 5 low loaders, the longest being 11.7 metres.
The company has its Head Office in Rongai, Nakuru and has well-resourced depos in Syokimau, Nairobi and another at Port Reitz, Mombasa with handling equipment and storage facilities.
Rongai Prides itself on being AEO Certified a World Customs Organization Best practice of being a Customs Duty Partner. It has also invested heavily in H.S.S.E, A.E.O. certification, logistics systems and processes, training, maintenance and deployment of company assets and resources.
The transport and logistics firm delivers various types of cargo within Kenya and Uganda. Today, the Rongai company moves 12,000 tonnes of cargo per month across East Africa.
According to reports, the company’s growth is funded by retained profits, however, in the event of expansion opportunities, the firm seeks short term asset financing.
In 2012, a survey conducted by Business Daily ranked Rongai Workshop and Transport Limited among the top 100 mid-sized companies in Kenya.
“The experience was humbling and timely. It moulded the credibility of Rongai company more effectively and gave us strong affirmation on the services we offer,’’ then-Finance and marketing director Ritul Bahal told the publication.
Vanessa notes that strong manpower and teamwork underline the firm’s success.
“I have learnt to empower people through offering leadership skills. That has really helped our company to withstand hard times in the market.’’
The company has won numerous awards including; Best Commercial Vehicle Operator, Best Tax Payer Operator in the Rift Valley Province, Comprehensive Workplace Health Programmes and the Road Safety Awards.