Vitafoam Nigeria Plc – Resting Easy
Vitafoam Nigeria is an astounding achievement of a business, boasting the largest foam manufacturing and distribution network in the West African sub-region, allowing for just-in-time delivery of finished flexible, reconstituted and rigid foam products over a vast area. We talk to Nigeria’s leading manufacturer of flexible, reconstituted and rigid foam products.
Since the company was incorporated on the 4th of August, 1962, and went on to be listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1978, Vitafoam has grown to become a household name throughout Nigeria.
As well as building a successful business, Vitafoam has also built itself a reputation as a responsible corporate citizen, adopting best practices across their operations. The company has implemented a code of good corporate governance and remains committed to continuously improving its operations. This policy is guided by Vitafoam’s dynamic and competent Board, made of up executive and non-executive directors, each expert in their own field and supported by a robust management team.
“Our core corporate policy is we pride ourselves in respect for others,” explains Taiwo Adeniyi, Managing Director and CEO of Vitafoam Nigeria. “We have respect for everyone who works with us, for our customers, for all of our stakeholders. We take action to ensure we’re able to replicate our processes to have good quality products and good quality service. We do not compromise on the quality of our products.”
That quality is verified and uncontested, with Vitafoam sporting certification unrivalled by its competitors. Vitafoam’s commitment to quality throughout its production process has earned the company a number of quality awards, including the Gold Certificate Award for most of its products.
The foam product manufacturer was also the first foam manufacturing company in Nigeria to subject its quality system to the Quality Management System championed by the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON). Vitafoam has attained the NIS ISO 9002 Certificate in 2001 and upgraded to NIS ISO 9001: 2000 in 2004.
Adeniyi considers Vitafoam’s quality its unique selling point.
“We pride ourselves on it,” he tells us. “Quality is a feature of the DNA behind everything we produce. Our motto is ‘The fine art of living’. We have the right tools, materials and skills. We pay attention to the look and feel of our products. from the core to the aesthetic of the product we pay particular attention.”
Uniform quality does not mean uniform products, however, and Adeniyi is proud of the range Vitafoam can offer.
“We customise, offering you a choice of irregular sizes and dimensions. We are prepared to produce the mattress to fit your needs, fully customised,” he says. “We start outputting the chemicals together to produce a foam block and so we can produce it to the dimensions you require. There is a quality which comes from innovation. Our development team are strong providers of innovations in the marketplace.”
This innovation is a central part of Vitafoam’s strategy. Currently, the company is consolidating itself by introducing value-added, innovative products and services, both through its main line and subsidiaries. The foam manufacturer has grown into a full solution provider for bedding and allied products, with “Comfort Centres” that provide a one-stop-shop for consumers. Offering a wide range of mattresses of varied resilience and hardness alongside a plethora of related products, some of which have launched their own spin-off companies.
As well as designing and constructing custom-made mattresses and pillows with their contour cutting equipment, Vitafoam also provides products that are versatile in use such as mats through their Vitarest and Leisuremats brands or foam sitting chairs through the Vitasolid brand. Vitafoam has even released a range of foam-based baby products such as changing mats, baby cot mattresses and pillows.
“We’re supporting our subsidiaries to grow and become the size of Vitafoam itself,” Adeniyi says. “We’re making them viable as we go on as a business.”
Handling Challenges as They Come
Vitafoam has faced challenges to overcome, however, particularly in these uncertain times.
“One of the challenges is uncertainty around the supply chain. 80% of our raw materials come from outside of this environment,” Adeniyi admits. “We simply do not have a viable petrochemical industry in Nigeria, so you find a lot of the time we have to travel to the Far East or Europe to get the materials for production.”
Rising to meet these challenges, he explains, is a question of outlook, and it’s clear he is proud of how Vitafoam has responded.
“You find for every challenge there is a solution. We pride ourselves that we are able to meet these challenges,” Adeniyi points out. “We have a mindset of solving challenges, and many times they turn out to be an opportunity because we have the right mindset. What distinguishes us is how we can handle those challenges when they come.”
Part of the reason Vitafoam has been successfully able to do this is their spirit of innovation, fuelled by a continuing stream of new, young talent into the company.
“We want to make sure we bring in young people through a training scheme and three years enthuse them about the organisation, help them understand the company and then they are willing to give their all,” Adeniyi says. “That point of entry is very important to us. From there, I find that the more training you give the better you are for it. It prepares people for whatever comes. You want people to grow and affect the environment, which involves a lot of training. We look for the best training, we send people to get that training and then they come back and put that training to work.”
Adeniyi describes a strong relationship with Vitafoam’s recruits from the ground up.
“As you try to steer the path of your career, once you’ve identified your challenge, we will have the training for you,” he explains.
The company has been put to the test, like all of us, by the COVID-19 crisis, but as Adeniyi points out the lockdowns have postponed, but not diminished demand.
“We discovered the same market who wanted mattresses but weren’t able to buy them because of the lockdown still needed it post-lockdown so we’ve faced a lot of demand,” he says.
Vitafoam has still suffered a hit as a result of the crisis, like most companies, but once again the collaborate spirit of the company has helped them to pull through.
“We recognised we needed to work together,” Adeniyi says. “When we renewed our package, we said to ourselves, what will enable us to keep everyone in the plan? We’ve not lost a single member of staff during the pandemic. We’ve taken a pay cut to keep everyone on board.”