Ambition attracts business

July 13, 2019

After quitting his job to join the family business, Jeenal Shah went full force on growing this business from one tire shop in Kisumu to the largest auto shop in Kenya. His company is in 4 countries with 44 outlets across East Africa. Jeenal Shah is the CEO of AutoXpress. A company that specializes in all things auto parts.

As he immersed himself in his business, it grew to the point where he could compete with the dominant companies in the industry at the time. In 1997, he still used to buy and sell tires from a company called riper. He thought the company was the official agent but learnt otherwise after doing business with Italian suppliers whom he discovered from an ad on the newspaper.

He wrote a fax to the Italian suppliers and started importing a few containers. Within the time frame of one month, they had imported six containers which left an impression on the Italian suppliers.

“The Italian tire suppliers decided to come and see us. They wondered, who are these guys who are quite aggressive and are based in Kisumu yet all the business happens in Nairobi?” Jeenal Shah said.

The Italian suppliers asked if they could buy more product and they obliged. By the end of November, they wanted to make them the agency for Kenya but only on the condition that they become Nairobi based instead.
Jeenal’s parents at the time lived in Nairobi and so did his girlfriend so the decision was therefore a no brainer for him.

November 1997 I moved to Nairobi, I got a small warehouse which was also the showroom and in March 1998 we opened the first outlet. We found two employees, one guy was selling T-shirts at the village market. He was earning 10k a month, I gave him 15k and said you’re my first employee. The second one was Christine who had been my PA for many years.” Jeenal said

From there, Jeenal put in all the work and grew the business to what it is.

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