Cleverly Combined: Transport, Construction, Heavy Lifting, and More
The key to successfully doing business in Africa? Diversity and the constant search for new opportunities - a strategy that NABC member, Jacob Lawren Ltd. has made good experiences with. The company offering services in haulage, heavy lifting and construction has effectively diversified its business on the continent.
Based in Accra, Ghana, Jacob Lawren was NABC’s first Africa-based member company. The company started by renting out equipment and has since diversified its business in construction, international transportation, and heavy lifting.
“We are in the midst of entering the renewable energy field, have gained considerable experience, and have assisted building some large projects for a European developer in Ghana. With regards to our transport business, we cover West Africa including Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Côte d’Ivoire. This array of business adds to our resilience,” testifies Michael Jacobs, son of the founders of Jacob Lawren and explains further:
“Our agility and consistent search for new opportunities are what differentiate us so that our engagement in
expanding in renewable energy and the automotive sector does not come as a surprise.”
Jacob Lawren is a family business, founded by Marcel Jacobs and Sally Jacobs Agyemang in 2005. For 17 years, the company has been growing continuously and currently gives employment to over 60 Ghanaians. “Initially, we just rented out machines, mainly to the many mining companies that are active in Ghana,” explained Michael Jacobs, Operations Manager at Jacob Lawren. “We then extended our client base to other types of companies, mainly European contractors active in building water infrastructures, which were booming at that time,” Michael recalled.
Reasons behind Jacob Lawren’s decision to join the NABC
The company’s regional expansion and cooperation with European firms played an essential role in Marcel’s decision to join the NABC network. “Initially, we were mainly mingling with the business community in Ghana. This is important, but most of our clients are European firms that need a reliable partner in Africa. We joined NABC in 2021 to leverage exposure in the Netherlands and other European countries.” The NABC recognized the need of opening up the membership to countries based in Africa, especially to companies that want to tighten their business ties with the Netherlands.
Expansion of transport activities to construction and haulage services
Constantly widening their services, Jacob Lawren moved to the power sector and built site offices, roads, and platforms for substations in Tamale and Kintampo for a Spanish and French contractor. With regards to Heavy Lifting and Out of Gauge transport opportunities, the company has a joint venture with the Dutch heavy lifting company Mammoet – a partnership that facilitates the delivery and instalment of transformers to the above substations. Next to Tamale and Kintampo, Jacob Lawren’s transport business covers West Africa including Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Côte d’Ivoire. This array of business adds to their resilience.
In the meantime, the company accelerated their transport activities, expanding in construction and haulage. “This year we celebrated our 10-year partnership with Ghana’s largest food producer, for whom we process between 50 to 60 journeys monthly. We transport goods for the mines, contractors, wood exporters, and many other customers,” explains Michael Jacobs and adds, “These two extra activities make us more resilient and agile.”
Construction activities decline during the rainy season, but haulage is a year-long business. Even during the pandemic, Jacob Lawren was able to continue providing haulage services to the FMCG industry which were deemed critical and exempted the company from a lockdown.
Business diversification and adaptation without compromising core values
The company’s equipment can be used for multiple purposes. Michael Jacobs adds: “In business, it is important to be flexible and easily adapt to new opportunities, especially in Ghana. The economy isn’t thriving at the moment in Ghana and money is tight. Hence, the need to change focus to several other areas. That is without compromising our core values,” emphasized Michael and continues
“First and foremost, keep delivering top quality service to our customers. This would keep our clients satisfied and loyal in a time when competition is desperate to break in. We are proud to say that most of our customer relations last for more than a decade.”
“Secondly, maintain our staff and help them through these tough times. For almost ten years now we serve free breakfast and lunch to our staff and help them with medical bills, school bills, and funerals. It is the staff who delivers the service to our customers and if they are happy their endeavor to a higher performance will be greater.”
“Thirdly, it is essential to run the operation cost-efficient and on equity alone. One of our core mandates is to not borrow from banks to run our operations. Investments are done through in-house capital.”
Constant search for new market opportunities such as hydrogen production
The entrepreneurs are keeping a close eye on the developments around Hydrogen – of which African countries may become production locations for either internal use or export. For this reason, Marcel Jacobs was a speaker at the World Hydrogen Summit in Rotterdam, in early May. “Although we realize this is still in the early stages, we do acknowledge that eventually the shift towards hydrogen – produced via wind or solar energy – will also come to Ghana. As soon as the infrastructure is ready to set off from the ground, we are ready to be the reliable local partner for construction services,” Michael concluded.
Learn more about Jacob Lawren via www.jacoblawren.com