By Frank Kintum
Before 2007, anything concerning Mercedes Benz in Nigeria was under the auspices of one company across the river Niger, called Anambra Motor Manufacturing Company (ANAMMCO), based in Enugu. Though the parent company had a representative office in Lagos.
ANAMMCO was one of the auto concerns established by the federal government in the 70s as part of Nigeria’s second development plan.
Others were Peugeot Automobile Nigeria, Kaduna; Volkswagen of Nigeria, Lagos; Steyr, Bauchi; Nigeria Truck Manufacturing, Kano etc. All of these companies were established by the federal government with technical partnership from the parent companies in Europe.
After the boom, came the doom, all of these companies began to experience hard times after the 70s and 80s boom. And at a point, the federal government decided to sell its shares in the companies.
This move created the grounds for the emergence of Weststar Associates Limited, which now assumed the status of franchise holder for Mercedes Benz in Nigeria. The Mercedes Benz representative office in Nigeria had to fold up.
Mirko Plath, who first came in as one of the line managers for the representative office in Nigeria, overseeing ANAMMCO, emerged the first Managing Director of Weststar Associates Limited, with Mr. Benson Uwatse, as the board chairman. Uwatse’s company (MB Place) has been a Mercedes Benz dealer for ages.
Subsequently, for the past 15 years, Mirko Plath has been MD of the company, but it looks like things may change in the company in no distant time.
This is because for the first time ever, the company has appointed a Deputy Managing Director. Beautiful, brainy and charming may be some words to describe the ever first Deputy Managing Director of Weststar Associates Limited, Mrs. Mary Ojulari.
Transport Day feelers reveal that Mrs. Ojulari may have been appointed to understudy Plath. Those who hold this view observe that in the past, the also equally hard working Mrs Elizabeth Itegbe, who was the General Manager, Sales/Marketing of the company for many years, holding forth for the MD, Mirko Plath, whenever he was not available, was never considered for the position of DMD, until she retired recently from the company.
Nonetheless, informed sources note that Ojulari, who has been the Chief Finance Officer of the company (a position she still retains), was made DMD following her impressive performance.
Efforts to have more insight into this from the company did not yield fruits as the MD could not be reached via telephone.
About Weststar Associates Limited
Weststar Associates Limited is the Authorized General Distributor for Mercedes-Benz in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As an extension of the renowned brand it represents in Nigeria, Weststar coordinates the manufacturer’s business activities including; Sales, Dealer Support, Fleet Management Support, Aftersales Services, Warranties, Marketing, Public Affairs, and Trainings.
Founded in 2007, Weststar Associates has increasingly grown from strength to strength in satisfying its clients and has garnered accolades worth mentioning.
About Mary Ojulari, FCCA
Mary Aderinola Ojulari is the Deputy Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Weststar Associates Limited (Mercedes-Benz Nigeria). She obtained her Accounting and Finance degree from the London South Bank University and is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). Mary has over 18 years’ experience and has worked in several senior management and director level roles within the hospitality, media, services and automobile sectors.
She is a result orientated and strategically focused CFO with an impressive track record of optimising shareholder’s value, effectively leading teams and implementing change management.
She started her professional career with KPMG UK and thereafter moved to Whitbread PLC, the largest hospitality company in the UK. At Whitbread PLC, she was part of the team that implemented change management and carried out the due diligence for the sale of 160 restaurants to a Venture Capitalist.
Mary worked in the media industry for 12 years (British Broadcasting Company (BBC), CNBC Africa & Forbes). She worked in leadership roles at the BBC, CNBC Africa & Forbes providing strategic direction and ensuring short to medium and long-term plans for the companies were viable and implemented. Mary joined Weststar in 2017 as the CFO and is currently the Deputy Managing Director (DMD) and CFO. As the DMD, she supports the Managing Director in implementing the strategy of the Board, ensuring efficiency targets are achieved and providing direction for the business.