Steven Upi never thought he would be his own boss until he got tired of receiving little salary for his input. Today, he owns a carpentry company that provides services to leading institutions like the First National Bank (FNB Namibia), private homes, offices and bars.
After working for four different companies, Upi decided to start his own carpentry company in 2004, which is currently known as The Upi’s Kitchen.
“The idea of Upi’s Kitchen was initiated seven years ago while I was working at Lumber City a carpentry shop where I gained the knowledge of carving wood. After knocking off from my full time job or during my free time, I would do carpentry at home in my garage in order to make ends meet,” explains Upi adding that since his salary was not enough to cater for all his needs, he had to find another source of income.
He realised that he actually made more money doing carpentry for himself, so he decided to resign at Lumber City in order to start working full time at The Upi’s Kitchen.
“I used to make a lot more profit from my part-time job than the salary at my full-time job. It felt as if I was wasting my potential by working hard for other people’s companies and making them rich while I was dying in poverty, ” he adds.
The Upi’s Kitchen designs and makes joinery work for kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms and office cabinets. The company also specialises in assembling and packaging of tables, chairs, bar stools, bar and kitchen counters. To accommodate his increasing orders and with the little space in his garage, he decided to employ two new people and moved to a bigger venue where he now rents a stall in the Windhoek northern industrial park.
However, entrepreneurship has not been milk and honey, as Upi too has had difficulty in establishing a clientele base to make himself known in the industry. He says marketing comes at its own price and the simplest way you can market yourself is by supplying quality products, then you have your clients doing your marketing for you.It’s not easy but my products make my clients smile and in the end, I have them referring other new clients to me,” he says.
Since marketing needs money, Upi’s Kitchen did not have much, so he had to work very hard and supply high quality products to create a good reputation for the company. Today, The Upi’s Kitchen has 25 employees and owns a 150m workshop located at New Castle Street, Flamican Park, unit 35, in the northern industrial area of the capital.