Kalungi pushes his late father’s business empire to new heights

Having joined St. Joseph’s Technical InstituteKisubi to get practical wisdom in construction, Umar Kalungi dropped out before completion because he could not afford school fees.

He however never gave up until he was able to join his dad, who was already in sauna construction business and as they say, the rest is history.

This is the story of Kalungi who is now making a killing from constructing steam bath and sauna systems.

Starting out

Having dropped out of technical school, he decided to do several businesses in order to make ends meet and among them was a coffee husk selling shop in Kajjansi, along Entebbe road.

“The business lasted only two years but during this period, I wasn’t making any progress but rather losses each day that passed. I realized the only way out was joining my dad,” Kalungi says.

He then joined his father, Buwembo Sulaiman Badduka, a professional engineer in sauna construction and they started working together.

“My father was then ill as he battled a problem of the kidney. I realized this was chance for me to take up his business that in case of any eventuality, I take it forward. I didn’t require money because the capital was the skills in my head that I had got from Kisubi that enabled me join my father to start business,” he says.

Kalungi explains that the small building skills he had acquired from Kisubi Technical Institute were key in enabling him to make steps in the new world he had joined.

He explains that whereas his dad was now living with his second wife, this didn’t stop him from joining him at the step mum’s home since he needed to do something to enable him earn a living.

Goes solo

Unfortunately, Kalungi’s father passed away towards the end of 2020 and he was left alone to run the business empire.

This meant that he had to run the show solely but things were not going to be as easy as he thought.

“When dad died, I thought step mum’s home would continue housing the business but this never came to pass. A week after his death, I smelt rat. I didn’t feel comfortable with the environment.”

He consequently had to shift business to begin running it elsewhere on his own.

Kalungi says this presented the biggest challenge of his life since he had left all the customers the other side.

As they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, Kalungi devised means of ensuring he pulls everything off. He made use of social media.

“I realized the only way to penetrate the market was through the use of social media to market my business. This paid off and currently, 95% of the customers I get are through social media,” he says.

He says that the last two years have been worthwhile as he has been able to grow the sauna construction business gradually.

The best feeling ever

With a smile on his face, Kalungi says he has got the best feeling ever, having been able to continue in his father’s construction footsteps.

“I am proud of this business because all my life has rotated around construction.  I used to imitate dad’s plans since he was an architect and I have always loved it. I don’t regret having joined this business since it has been part of my life. This is what my heart has wanted since childhood,” Kalungi says.

He says that since few people have knowledge about sauna and steam bath construction, this makes it a lucrative business for those who are skilled in the business.

Patience is key

Kalungi however says that anyone can join the business of constructing saunas and steam bath systems but things don’t come as easy as they seem to be.

“Many people including my own brothers wanted to be sauna and steam bath engineers but were not able to accomplish this mission because they were not patient. This speaks not to only this business but everything we do. We must be patient,” Kalungi says.

He says while his dad was still around, he used to send him upcountry to help clients with their sauna and steam bath systems. Sometimes he would go days without any payment.

Kalungi however says he persevered since he knew the future was bright and consequently he was able to get repaid.

“For example, I can earn as much as Shs 8 million on one sauna and steam bath system and I can construct at least two systems in a year. However, this can only be achieved because of patience. Things don’t come easy. This advice is what youth in our country need.”

He says that at one time he felt like giving up but inside him was a voice always reminding him to persevere.

“I had to keep my family’s flag flying high up. I couldn’t afford giving up. The name Buwembo Sauna had to continue and to this day, I decided to name my company, B Sauna Energy Construction Company in remembrance of my father.”

Kalungi says he is optimistic the future is bright for him and the company.

“In five years, I will have the biggest sauna construction company in Uganda that rotates around trust and quality. I want to be the household sauna and steam bath system construction company in Uganda. I trust I will achieve this dream,” he says.

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