Saturday, April 13, 2024

Ernest Mburu: From plumber to owning 40 chain stores countrywide

Starting a business is never easy, but with hard work, determination, and a little bit of luck, anyone can make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality. This is the story of one man who did just that.

Ernest Mburu Muinamu has become synonymous with achievement in Kenya’s plumbing sector. His journey began a decade ago when he, a former plumber, identified a void in the plumbing materials supply chain in Kikuyu town. With an entrepreneurial mindset, he established a small plumbing store to serve the demands of nearby builders.

Mburu’s foresight and determination paid off as his business, K. Pipes & Fittings Limited, rapidly expanded, and today, it is one of the largest plumbing materials distributors in the country. The company, originally known as Kikuyu Pipes, has over 40 branches across Kenya and employs over 500 people.

Mburu’s journey to success started at an early age. His father was a plumber, and he would often accompany him on site visits during school holidays. He refined his skills at Kabete Polytechnic after completing his secondary school education.

In a past interview, he said, ‘By the time I completed Class 8 in 2006, I was already a contractor. I proceeded to secondary school and completed in 2010, after which I joined Kabete Polytechnic to refine my plumbing skills.’

Observing the influx of artisans charging low fees for their work, Mburu made the decision to switch from plumbing services to opening a plumbing shop.

“On the first day I opened the shop”, I made sales of Sh. 40,000 which earned me a profit of Sh. 10,000”, he remembers. “On the second day, I sold items worth Sh. 100,000 and earned Sh. 30,000. I realized that plumbing hardware business was more lucrative than service business,” he narrated.

With the high demand for plumbing materials, Mburu opened more branches across Kenya, moving to other towns. Today, K. Pipes & Fittings Limited is the go-to supplier for homeowners, developers, contractors, and hardware businesses. The company is both a retail and wholesale supplier, and in recent years, they have expanded their product portfolio to include steel products, among others.

I have savings of Ksh 350,000 from a monthly salary of Ksh 111,000. I am not married. What are my Investment Options?

Mburu attributes the company’s success to specializing in plumbing, affordable pricing, excellent customer service, a strong relationship with his suppliers and branch network, and the support of his family.

Unlike other hardware shops that fail to expand beyond a single outlet, Mburu chose to empower others through a franchise program. When the company opens a new branch, they allow the franchise holder to operate independently and grow through their efforts with the company’s support.

Mburu’s success has not gone unnoticed, and he has received numerous awards and recognition for his entrepreneurial spirit and contributions to the community. He is described as a hardworking man with a heart for giving back to the community.

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