Auto-springs East Africa is redefining the Made in Kenya Narrative.
In 2019, Auto-springs (EA) opened a new plant in Limuru. The plant valued at 500 million shillings was set to create over 500 additional jobs besides the about 200 they had as of then. Initially, with their operations in Athi River, the firm had sustained steady growth for over decades and was now expanding and increasing its operations in promoting the made in Kenya initiative.
Among the items in the Auto-springs manufacturing list include bolts, nuts, washers, and leaf springs for both small and medium vehicles as well as heavy commercial vehicles. Auto firms such as Toyota Kenya, Isuzu Kenya, and Simba colt have used spare parts in their assembly lines from Auto-springs.
The company began in 1979 in Athi River. With similar business knowledge from their country in India gained through generational learning, the founder of the business set up shop despite lacking an engineering background.
The success of the business from that early on can only be attributed to a passionate desire and drive for the business’s success. Three generations later and the business is bracing for an even greater future. With a good business environment and policies, the Auto-springs story will be another great story of what is possible in Kenya.
The factory situated at the intersection of the Nairobi –Nakuru highway and the exit to the Mahi Mahiu – Narok road stands as a waymark of what relentless pursuit for success can do. In the midst of what doesn’t strike you as a place where a great story can emerge for an auto spares manufacturer, towers the Auto-springs East Africa factory.
If we are to become successful like Asian giants such as China and India, Africa needs to change her perception of herself. We are large consumers and very little of producers. It is high time, Like Auto-springs, we started becoming manufacturers.
With such an initiative, we need to take caution so that greed doesn’t take the better of us. We need as a country, Kenya for example, to focus on enabler firms taking more precedence in our economy. This is to mean that we focus on making cluster industries enabling each other toward a set goal.
In the case of the automotive industry, now that we have a spring manufacturer, other enabler industries can come up whose sole lines will be to manufacture engine parts, others can specialize in high-strength light material research for automotive bodies.
The fact that others are doing it out there doesn’t mean that we should sit down and relax believing that it will be done for us nevertheless. Efforts often get rewarded with collaborative research which births better innovative solutions. Ultimately, it also brings success.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry Kenya should focus on enabling and encouraging the setting up of enabler specialized industries. In China, for example, one final product often has dozen-plus factories behind it.
Perhaps we have long looked at the sophisticated nature of the final product, the final car for instance, and seen how hard it is to get there. What if we looked at the parts that make up the car. We then decide to make a hundred industries making up the parts and another final industry whose sole work will be assembling the parts to make up the car.
When we have robust enabler industries, it becomes easier for such companies as Mobius Motors to have competitive prices as the cost of manufacturing reduces significantly. Given that a large number of their inputs have to be imported, the sustainability aspect of the business gets to be challenged in the long run.
Auto-springs (EA) have long challenged us to walk that route. Probably we overlooked the challenge and it is high time we considered that challenge now more than ever. To begin with, let us have a friendly business environment and competitive business policies for local businesses and we will see the potential in this country. I am up for the challenge, are you?