A silent revolutionary in his own space, the name Aderemi Makanjuola may not immediately ring a bell, but that is probably because he is a silent achiever who prefers to let his achievements speak for him – his company, Caverton, is doing just that.
A trained economist, he obtained his first degree from the University of Leicester and later attended the University of Manchester, where he studied Manpower Planning and Training.
Aderemi Makanjuola is an accomplished businessman and Chairman of Caverton Offshore Support Group Plc. He is also the Chancellor, Edo University, Iyamho.
His work experience spans Barclays Bank, which later evolved to Union Bank, where he worked for 10 years right from his national youth service year, and Devcom Bank, where he spent another 10 years.
An Eye For Opportunity
As a banker, Aderemi Makanjuola saw an opportunity when the federal government began allocating oil blocks to influential Nigerians. He noticed that such individuals had difficulty accessing their oil block locations. According to him, he saw the need for helicopter services.
The story of the emergence of Caverton Offshore Support Group as a major player, especially in the oil and gas and aviation support sector, is indeed an inspiring one that shows that great things can indeed come out from Nigeria.
It is also a story that shows that diligence, having a possibility mindset, doing things the right way, and having an eye that spots opportunities are vital ingredients that will take anyone from zero to become a hero.
The Emergence of Caverton Offshore Support Group
Named after Aderemi Makanjuola’s best friend in his undergraduate days at the University of Leicester, UK, Caverton Offshore Support Group is a Nigerian company that provides offshore marine, and aviation logistics support services to companies within the oil and gas industry. It commenced operations in 1999 and has Caverton Helicopters, Caverton Marine, Caverton Maintenance Center, and Caverton Aviation Training Center as services/companies under it.
Before its launch in 1999, the offshore marine and aviation support service was the exclusive preserve of two foreign companies, Bristow and Aero, who controlled the business.
Caverton, as an indigenous brand, came into the scene and showed that Nigerians are also capable of running such businesses and running it well.
The company initially started by offering an air shuttle from Ikeja to Victoria Island around 2006 but got its first break when it pulled a major upset by defeating a foreign company to win Shell’s helicopter services in 2010.
In part, the company owes the break to the then Vice President, Sub-Saharan Africa of Shell, Babs Omotowa, who believed in Caverton’s capacity to deliver, and it never failed.
With this breakthrough, Aderemi Makanjuola and his team demonstrated capacity. They kept a clean record without any incidence, so much so that Shell opted for a two-year extension of the contract, which further endeared it to other players who reached out to engage its service.
Today, Caverton’s clientele includes ExxonMobil, Total, Chevron, Amni Petroleum, Pacific Drilling, GE, and NNPC — in addition to Shell. It also controls over 80 percent of the offshore oil and gas helicopter services market.
Lessons From Caverton Helicopter Service
On how this has been possible, Aderemi Makanjuola reveals that the company has a zero-tolerance for error when it comes to safety. He says it also maintain high standards of safety.
In 2021, at Caverton’s 12th Annual General Meeting, the company declared an increase in total assets from N65.8billion in 2019 to N67.5billion, representing an increase of 2.6 percent.
Caverton’s revenue, however, decreased by 8 percent from N34.98billion in 2019 to N32.2billion in 2020 while Gross Profit also dropped to N13.58billion in the review period by 8 percent from N14.7billion in 2019. Its Profit before Tax dropped by 83 percent from N7.24billion in 2019 to N1.26billion, while After-Tax Profit dropped by 73 percent to N1.18billion from N4.38billion in 2019.
The slight decrease in performance was a direct result of the impact of COVID-19 on the operations of its customers, which impacted patronage of its helicopter services.
For Aderemi Makanjuola, the importance of asking the right questions and how things can be done better comes to the fore.
At the onset, he notes that a critical survey of the industry and what needed to be done better and differently set his company apart and showed industry stakeholders that they were capable of executing the demand of the business.
Speaking on what they did to set the company on the right path right from the beginning, he said:
“When we came in, the first thing we did was to say, ‘what are the real problems that are making it difficult for Nigerians to do it?’ The first thing we saw was that everybody tries to know the minister of aviation or the minister of petroleum resources who gives the green light if you get a helicopter you can operate.
“You get the helicopter, you get the contract but you can’t operate it because the stakes are high. What are the stakes? You must have an infrastructure. You must have a hangar before you do anything; to put your helicopter in and to make sure you have the engineers – you have everything that needs to be done.
“So it takes a lot of investment and we saw that coming.
“The first thing we did after getting our licence was to say, ‘let’s build the infrastructure. We built the helipad in Ozumba and we built the hangar in Ikeja. Having done that, we knew we were set for business.”
According to Aderemi Makanjuola, asking the right questions and challenging the status quo also led to the establishment of Caverton’s Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul facility. The company decided to provide helicopter repair services in the country against what was previously obtained where all helicopter repairs had to be done abroad. Now, the facility serves not just clients in Nigeria but also from other countries.
Again, Caverton has continued to lead the pack with innovations and disruptive ideas. The company recently took delivery of a brand-new Reality H full flight simulator, configured for the AW139 helicopter, the dominant aircraft in its fleet with the capacity to fly 12 passengers at full speed.
This helicopter level D full-flight simulator located at the company’s new training centre at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos is the first and only simulator not just in Nigeria but also in Africa. The simulator can also be retrofitted to serve other aircraft types.
With this facility, the company is now positioned to offer training to pilots from the military and the private sector. Already, the Nigerian Navy has partnered with the company to provide training for some of its pilots.
A significant benefit is that these services will save the country a great deal of foreign exchange. Pilots no longer need to be flown abroad for training, and helicopters also do not need to be flown abroad for repairs and routine checks. All can now be done here in Nigeria.
With the solid footing Caverton has been given and the potential it yet holds, Aderemi Makanjuola has certainly created a mark that he will continue to be remembered for many years to come.