The Country Sales Manager, Forever Living Products, Mr. Daniel Ikechukwu and a newly decorated Diamond Sapphire Manager, Mrs. Ify Isiakpona and her daughter.
By Tony Nwankwo
Forever Living Products Nigeria, a health and wellness products company is 20 years in Nigeria. Though the celebration of the milestone was dampened by Covid-19 pandemic which ravaged the world since February, the Country Sales Manager, Mr. Daniel Ikechukwu, says it was the inter-personal relationship of business owners that suffered, not the corporate market in Nigeria. Excerpts:
Covid-19 has done damage to your 20th anniversary celebrations this year. How do you react?
The pandemic and what the world is experiencing now, do actually have a down-turn on all the businesses globally. However, we are in the health and wellness industry, so, Covid-19, did not really impact negatively on our business, because the services we provide for people are food supplements and some of these food supplements were actually needed during the pandemic.
Some of these products are immune boosters, so people were actually looking for them to boost their immune system. We also offer personal care products, the hand soap, hand sanitizers that people were looking for, all over the world, and these helped them to curb Covid-19.
Though we regret what Covid-19 has done to the world generally, we sympathise with businesses, we sympathise with people who had lost their loved ones due to the pandemic. However, for us, as a business, Covid-19 actually helped people to know more about our products, because with Covid-19, we were able to reach out to many more people. It did not really affect our business.
You had hand sanitisers before the pandemic. People hoped you could have had other supplements that could check the disease?
We have a range of supplements that a lot of Nigerians presently use to boost their immune system. For us, they are not drugs. We don’t position them as drugs, they are food supplements that can help people and we have varieties of them.
It all depends on what the people want. And one of them, the Ascobic Acid, was really helpful. The challenge we had was meeting up with the demand. Our products are known by people and those who came for these products and others who are coming for available ones actually benefited from these products.
We did not really bring in anything new. What we just did was to boost our supply chain and try as much as possible to provide the products for Nigerians. We did not increase our prices, we did not change anything, because we saw it as something we could do to help to fight this global pandemic.
For this disease, you decided to stream your products and celebrate your Success Day online. How did it go?
The Success Day is an integral part of our business, It is the one singular event in a country that will help us showcase and celebrate our Forever Business Owners (FBOs) who had achieved either during the quarter or during the past months, who had achieved successes in this business. So, the Success Day is integral.
The advent of Covid-19 made it difficult for people to meet physically, everybody in the world is aware of the fact, that people couldn’t meet physically. However, our Success Day demands that we meet physically and celebrate. But since this is an integral part of what we do in Forever, we had to look for a way of celebrating our people.
We had to find a way to see our people motivated individually, not really coming together. And this we had on October 10, this year. This was our very first virtual Success Showcase. And I tell you, till now, we are still receiving commendations. Our people really appreciated this.
Everything that we needed to do was done, the only thing was that people couldn’t meet physically. We used all our social media channels to broadcast it live, and our people really enjoyed it. They were motivated, they were celebrated and the core objective of our Success story, keeping our people celebrated, giving an impression to people who do not know Forever, was truly achieved.
And the social media platforms provided a bigger reach for us, because once you are on FaceBook, Twitter, Whatsapp, it was there live. It was a very successful outing for us.
The world is waiting for a coronavirus vaccine. How ready are you on that?
When we talk about vaccines, then we are talking about pharmaceutical companies. This relates to the pharmaceutical and medical industries. We are not in the race for the vaccines, because that is not our core competence.
I strongly believe that the medical community and the medical world are doing their best, doing everything possible to give us a vaccine and what is key to everybody will be the potency of the vaccine when it comes out. And how we can use it to curb the virus.
And until we get that, we still advise that people should use all the necessary measures: Wear your masks regularly, observe social distancing and use hand sanitizers. These are remedies that are presently available to us. These we can use to fight off the virus until vaccine comes out.
The pandemic has affected many companies, with some shedding weight by sacking workers. How did this affect your people?
We are committed to Nigeria and we are committed to her people. We are committed to our staff. Like I said, the only thing we did during that period was that we equipped all our staff, and enabled them to work from home.
We did not reduce our staff strength. We did not cut salaries. What was key for us was our ability to bring in products, so that Nigerians could have products to boost their immune systems. So, Covid-19 did not affect our structure, it did not affect our numerical strength. We are still the same as we were before Covid-19, and we thank God for that.
What happened to your rallies, your Global Rally, since the pandemic was global?
Forever Nigeria does not exist in isolation. We are a sub-set of Forever International and everything we do in Forever Nigeria, is strictly dependent on decisions that are taken in the United States. This year, it was decided that because of Covid-19, we could not go on a ship cruise that we were supposed to go to in the Bahamas, we could not go.
And we had to cancel our trip to Australia, that was actually for last May. These two trips were cancelled for obvious reasons. Everybody in the world understood what happened, so it is not that we did not want to meet, but the conditions were not conducive for us to meet as one global Forever family.
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However, what we have done is to look at better measures to motivate our people. We are looking at other ways of ensuring that, yes, our people get the best out of business, of our compensation plan and out of what they know and believe in Forever products. And of course, when the time is right, we will make these announcements, and we will all ensure that our people are properly motivated.
Many expected new products development from Forever, this year. Its like Covid-19 also had a hand in that?
Product development is not a challenge to us. Introduction of new products and product developments, have always been part of Forever.
In the next few weeks, we are going to have Forever Super Screen that was launched some few months ago in the U.S. We are going to have it in Nigeria. We are going to have Forever Focus, we are going to have Forever Eye Vision.
Product development is a part of Forever Living and all those are not affected at all by Covid-19. Our factories and our advisory board, everybody is working to ensure that new products are developed. All these developments are based on science and based on what is happening globally.
Soon, this pandemic will be over. Are you still in touch with your people across the country?
Yes, for us in Nigeria, the only concern that we have is what is happening at Tin-Can Island Ports, Apapa, where shipment is delayed for weeks, beyond what one could imagine. Aside this, all our plans are intact. We have not changed our plans on our business up-North.
However, because of obvious reasons, all those areas are now red flags. You can’t travel to those areas. Not just because you don’t want to travel, not that you don’t want to develop territories, or develop the market, or our own teams in the North-Eastern part of the country, however, for obvious reasons, you can’t go, ether because of restrictions, or because, I wouldn’t want to say Boko Haram, but our mentality is always that even where there is a war, people must always eat, and people will always look for supplements.
People will always look for personal care products and that is who we are and that is what we do. So, our responsibility is to make these products available. Rather, we have to make them available through a team. We cannot go as an office to say we want to do this. We have to ensure that we motivate one or two persons who are ready to build a team in those areas and we can now go with them. That is how our business is structured.
We can’t change it. So, it is our responsibility to motivate, its our responsibility to galvanise and still take Forever products Nigeria to the apex. We still want to make a name globally. Our challenge is not with anybody here, our challenge is within the Forever family, we want to do the best.
That has always been our focus. Again, all our leaders are still here. The managers now have new measures, new goals because without these things you can’t succeed. One thing or the other will weigh you down. This is why I am doing this. So, all our leaders are here and they are all doing well.