The Peacock, scientifically known as Pavo Cristatus, is of the Pheasant family; a resplendent bird of massive tail of fascinating iridescent colours. The extravagant plumage of the male marks it out in all its glorious glamour. It is actually the male that is called the Peacock. The female is known as the Peahen, while their family name is the Peafowl.
Despite it’s six feet of long tail feathers, which accounts for 60 per cent of it’s body length, the Peacock can still fly; giving it’s colourful Wings attributes of beauty and strength.
Peacocks have been celebrated as the bird of pride and uncommon vanity. The spread feathers of the Peacock have been associated with attraction and attention, especially sexual attraction towards the female for mating. The sensual association of the glorious plumal extravaganza of the Peacock, has in time made the spread feathers a symbolism of fecundity and virility.
Peacock Paints Limited located at Ikot Ekan, Etinan, was incorporated in 1979 and went into full operation in 1980 during the administration of Dr Clement Isong. It was a berthing of a Peacock. The company came with the promise to deliver quality paint. And it did. The quality came with attractive colors, more like a peacock flaunting it’s feathers. The product came with durability; the virility of the Peacock. Basking In the euphoria of its quality and durability, the company took the motto, “Quality with Pride”. The company, like the proud Peacock bloomed, with its bright colors attracting patronage from far and wide.
With time the fortunes of the company dimmed. The bright colours of the spread feathers furled up and the Peacock in the paint took flight, far away from its disappointed consumers. The company continued in its long limbo until September 5, 2015, when it was “re-commissioned” by Gov. Udom Emmanuel, after a revamp. Since then, the company has been dodged by a chain of controversies. Many say the revamp was a ruse, insisting that nothing was going on at the factory location of one of the earliest paint makers in Nigeria. Some even accused the company of deception, alleging that the company merely buys already produced Paints from other known brands and merely replace labels.
The controversies may have informed the recent visit to the factory by some journalists and those the organizers, led by Comrade Ini Ememobong, PDP Publicity Secretary in Akwa Ibom state, of the tour termed, “citizens”, who were invited as a result of their comments and questions on a radio station programme where the Chairman of the Board of the Company was a guest.
The team was received by Engr Billy Etuk, Chairman of the Board of Directors, other Board members and management, including the Acting General Manager, Mr. Aniefiok Essien.
Done with welcome formalities, the team in batches toured the facility. The first port of call was the maintenance workshop, where Engr Etim Iton, one of the first set of workers recruited into the company in 1979, took time to show the team his workshop. It was obvious that not much was going on in that department as he complained that most of the equipment at the workshop were already outdated and the company depends largely on local fabricators for needed spare parts. He has three other technical staff with him and informed the team that more hands were needed, and fresh hands trained.
At the laboratory, described by the only staff in that department, Mr. Ime Aaron, as the engine room of the factory, where formulation, reformulation and tests on raw materials are carried out, the company showed off some of the equipment, including the Viscometer, for measuring the viscosity of the paint and the Basket mill, a new addition, purchased in 2016.
At the raw materials warehouse, not much was seen. This was explained to be as a result of the fact that materials are purchased to meet orders because of the fragility of some of the materials when left for long time.
The factory has two working Tank Mixers with the capacity to produce 30 pots of paint at a time that were part of the original equipment of the factory. The factory also has a master mixer, with four tanks of 3, 000 liters capacity, capable of about 120 buckets of paint at a time. Of the four tanks, only two appear to be in use now. There are about 14 Tinting Tanks for mixing of colours, most are not being used, mainly because of the low level of production going on. The six 6, 000 liters capacity storage tanks stand ready to receive products that don’t seem to be coming.
At the finished products warehouse, a good number of products could be seen. A customer was seen taking some Paints to Asuna Secondary School, some meters from the factory, where renovation work is said to be going on.
Back at the Boardroom, the Chairman of the Board, Engr. Billy Etuk, thanked the governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel for reviving the company. He noted that it was easier to penetrate a market than re-penetration after exiting the market. He called for patience among the people. Answering questions from the journalists, Engr Etuk said that the company was making profits per batches, but on the over all, it has not broken even. He however noted that the company for now, can pay for all its overhead and personnel emoluments.
On patronage, Engr Etuk said that notable corporate bodies and discerning individuals do place orders for Peacock Paints. One of such bodies is ExxonMobil that is gradually making the company come back to its industrial production lines. He said orders have come from the auto paint market, noting that the company’s auto paint is being well received, brandishing outlets at Modebe auto paints market at Onitsha, Anambra state, where three outlets exist.
Asked why it would take bringing people to the factory to convince them that the plant is working and not them going to the market to find the product, the Acting General Manager, Aniefiok Essien, said that Paints are not “supposed to be sold at Urua Akpan Andem”, adding that Paints are sold at designated selling points, reeling out such points in the state and outside the state.
The AGM noted that his company’s paint couldn’t have sold like other cheap paints in the market because Peacock paint has over time been known for quality, which accounts for the observed disparity in prices. It was highlighted to the management that the average price of paint in the price goes for between N2500 and N3000, while the least price of Peacock paint is N5000, a whooping difference in a weeping economy.
THE PEACOCK’S FEATHERS MAY STILL UNFURL
But there seems a bright light somewhere in the slow come back of the Peacock. There is still hope that the furled feathers may yet unfurl for the factory to come back to its pristine eminence.
Engr Sam Ebe is the Director in charge of Production and Sales. He comes by as a man with a modernizing agenda. His look of disinterestedness at the level and sophistication of current operations can easily be discernible. He has a mission and he unveiled it. His, perhaps was the star presentation of the visit.
“We are going into computerized tinting technology. Soon we are going to do away with the obsolete paint making technology you see now. Soon Peacock Paint will be producing only the three base colours, and interested agents and entrepreneurs will partner with us, using the tinting technology, to add value and distribute our products”, Engr Ebe informed.
He emphasized that computerized tinting system would create jobs, create enterprise and add value to the economy. Explaining how it works, Engr Ebe said that Peacock Paint would produce the white base in three varieties of Light, middle light and Dark base. Partners and entrepreneurs would then invest by establishing colour centers, such as the one along Tunde Ogbeha Avenue, Uyo. At the center, the agent will now give customized colours to customers using the already existing 17, 000 colour chats of the company. He explained that the colour center would then become the nearest dispensing outlets to customers, where they can receive personalized services.
Engr Ebe enumerated the benefits of the technology, which he said is the modern way of paint manufacturing and distribution, to include, reduction in the labour force of the company, increased production, increased enterprise among the populace, time saving as each customer can be attended to within his immediate community, etc.
Final observation remains that the Peacock Paint Etinan has the capacity to produce and has been doing so, even if at a fraction of its installed capacity. It has the potentiality to actually bounce back to its former proud position in the industry, if a little modernization of operations, a more aggressive marketing and a more purposeful drive to face up with mounting competition, are pursued. When all they need to do are done, then the Peacock may just begin to unfold its feathers and resume its dream to meet quality with pride.