The martial arts expert who found fortune in security
By BY KAGURE GACHECHE | October 29th 2013
In Form Two, William Ololo saw a group of people being taught karate, and he was impressed by what the coach could do. This sparked a fascination with the martial arts, that naturally led him into the security sector. In 2002, he registered Bedrock Holdings. Today, his firm has offices in Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Kitale, Eldoret, Bungoma and Busia.
When did you make your first million? In business, it is not easy to know. You struggle to make money and keep reinvesting it. But I would say two-months after the business started, so I was 27.
How did you come by it? Just after I finished university, I got a job with a commercial security firm. I worked there for four-years and saved most of my salary. I partnered with a friend and with Sh1.5 million, we imported electronic security gadgets. We had done our market research and knew which gadgets would be most popular. We made Sh3 million. We needed capital to start our own firm, so that’s how we got it. In 2002, Bedrock Holdings was born.
What did you do with the money?
It was consumed by the larger business, but I would say the money contributed to where we are today.
And where is that?
We have a siezeable number of guards and alarm units; we have also installed CCTV units and other electronic security gadgets in all major towns. We have now diversified into real estate and the hotel industry.
With several others getting into the security guard business, what are you doing to stand out?
It doesn’t matter how many other companies are out there. The quality you offer is what will make you stand out. We have really invested in training and offer attractive remuneration. As a result, our quality sells. We have also invested in electronic security gadgets as technology is shaping the future of the sector. People would rather have fewer guards but a good alarm system.
What would you say was your breakthrough moment? It has been a constant struggle, so there is no single moment I can point out as being our “jackpot moment”. We reinvested whatever profit we made and kept moving. We still have to continue thinking outside the box in the face of increasing competition. The actualisation point is hard to reach as an entrepreneur.
What do you consider your biggest achievement?
Helping thousands of people put food on their table and educate their children. Also, knowing that we have kept people alive through our services. The money does not compare to this. I realise so many people’s livelihoods are in my hands and I’m inspired to work harder.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made along the way?
Taking contracts that nearly destroyed the company. In the early days, we were not able to filter the companies we did business with. We ended up offering our services to some unscrupulous traders who tried to take advantage of us and made claims that cost us a lot financially. Some of these cases are still in court. Now we thoroughly vet the firms we work with and take the relevant insurance for things we undertake to protect.
What do you do to unwind? I go to the gym for aerobics and strength training. I also train others in martial arts and aerobics.
What talent would you like to have? I’d like to be able to nurture people, including my children, to do things the way I’m doing them. Right now, I’m a little impatient because I have a lot on my plate.
Parting shot? Don’t just dream; take action. And once you actualise your idea, be patient and persevere through the challenges that will inevitably arise.
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