Hardwares are not so popular in Kenya because of their sheer numbers and are not particularly exciting. Besides, most lack uniqueness and world class services that would woo and maintain customers. But one among the many has managed to stand out as a signature hardware known as Muthokinju Paints and Cement. You might have likely heard of the hardware or at least seen their stores branded with the orange and luminous green background. The branding makes it hard to miss.
Here is the story as told by WoK.
Background of the Business
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Muthokinju was originally coined from the founder’s names namely Muthoni Kimani and Barnabas Njuguna hence, MUTHO (Muthoni) KI (Kimani) and NJU (Njuguna) – MUTHOKINJU. Their entry into the business 26 years ago was inspired by lessons from Muthoni’s experience in running a restaurant business known as Mama Safi at Kenyatta Market. Besides, both Muthoni and Njuguna did not want to go back to selling food which was perishable and went to waste if it remained. They had counted some losses with the restaurant and therefore, opted for a hardware store.
Today, both Muthoni and Njuguna are glad to have made the switch as Muthokinju has become a known brand for paints, cements, adhesives, and decorating sundries. Over the years, the stellar hardware has noted tremendous growth currently having more than 14 stores and over 150 employees.
Business Burton Passed.
The founders both Njuguna and Muthoni have since passed the business to their son Benjamin Njatha-the Managing Director, and his wife Sarafina Njatha, the Operations Director.
Benjamin started learning about the basics of the business when he was only nine years old and after years of working for his parents, turned out to be the best pick for his parents. He says this about his parents,
“I think, if there’s one big lesson I’ve learnt from my parents, its humility. Because they’re always humble, and still working up to date. They help us in different roles,”
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It has not been a walk in the park for Benjamin. About four years ago, the new MD set out to expand the business rapidly as he had set high goals for the expansion of the business. He calls it his “best mistake” because he later learned that having a business structure was instrumental in growing at a certain pace. Therefore, he slowed down his expansion race and instead began creating the right structures. In the long run, this has begun paying off as the company is now receiving great publicity and growth due to its efficient business structures.
In 2020, the pandemic had a negative effect on many businesses. However for Muthokinju, it brought a silver lining to the business. As people spend more time in their homes due to the lockdown, they began noticing various things about their homes that needed change.
According to Benjamin’s observation,
“It’s interesting that people started decorating their homes more during these COVID times due to working from home. They want to upgrade their spaces. This saw an increase in paint and cement,”
In response to initial limited movement of supplies in and out of the city of Nairobi, Muthokinju began deploying trucks to deliver supplies to customers who had begun renovating their homes or had construction projects. As a ripple effect, the business was able to remain afloat during those hard times.
Innovation, Growth and Future Plans
In improving its efficiency, Muthokinju has capitalized on innovation to expand and grow the business. Over the last 10 years, the company has computerized and connected its store branches such that the MD is able to monitor the business operations in each branch from the company headquarters in Imara Daima.
Muthokinju’s future plans is to go into e-commerce. In about five years, Muthokinju plans to open a superior online store so that they can serve their customers who are not able to physically reach their stores.
The company’s automation has not gone unnoticed as Benjamin says,
“We’ve been given a lot of accolades by different partners, because of using technology to optimize our business,”
Branding And Good Customer Services
Besides selling construction products, paint and cement, Muthokinju stores have in-house interior designers who offer advisory services to customers. They help customers on the right paint combinations for different rooms and also how they can match colours. To ensure efficiency, the staff at the stores receive training from paint manufacturers.
Partnerships have also played a great role in Muthokinju’s growth. This has broadened the company’s reach and growth. For paints, they have partnered with Plascon, Crown Paints, and Duracoat while in Cement, they have partnered with Rhino, Mombasa Cement, East Africa Portland, Savannah Cement, Bamburi Cement, and National Cement. To ensure they give the best service to their customers, the company does bulk purchases from their partners and passes the discounts to their customers.
Muthokinju is changing the face of the hardware business and the company’s legacy project is to provide access and affordable building materials to its customers.
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The couple is very blessed. The lady very respectful.
This people relate very well. They never waste time in any way. Neither do cilly mistakes. Am concerned of Muranga team