Tayo Ayeni: a champion extraordinaire

 Breaking News

Tayo Ayeni: a champion extraordinaire

Tayo Ayeni: a champion extraordinaire
December 22
10:14 2015

The mystique of Tayo Ayeni @ 53

The hypnotic appeal of watching Tayo Ayeni enthuse with passion about his heartfelt dreams is both captivating and instructive. It reveals years and studious efforts spent channeling purpose and the pursuit of worth, writes LANRE ALFRED.

Tayo is 53 in few days, December 28th. Nobody forgets the first time they met the dark-hued chairman of Skymit; everyone wishes for an encore. Often it’s not the first meeting that resonates but the first time he inspired them to look inwards and tap into their innate individuality and purposeful clarity cum cheerfulness continuum that is the hallmark of the Skymit brand. There is a lot about Tayo that really steals under your skin at your first encounter with him: he is self-assured and yet not given to flightiness, unlike other business moguls.

Interestingly, however, honor is like a match: you can only use it once, said Marcel Pagnol, late French dramatist, filmmaker, and scriptwriter but Pagnol’s assertion, pithy as it is establishes little reality in the world of Ayeni, widely acknowledged as a man of honour within the business and social circuits, has made use of honor and still makes use of honour like an inexhaustible match.

Ayeni, no doubt, exudes an uncanny mélange of zeal and fervor that becomes his charm. Intellectually, he flaunts a visceral approach that only a few of his contemporaries can rival. Hard work has designed him a wide-grin and leads him across the lane of fame to the realization of his dreams.

Tayo probably wakes up in the mornings feeling like he’s just had the most incredible dream; a fantasy about his life. Even if it becomes routine, he probably wouldn’t tire out; that is because his life is somewhat like a fairy tale.

The maverick corporate titan and boss of Skymit Limited was never supposed to end up ordinary, that is why from young adulthood, he strove assiduously to be part of the very few extraordinary folk. At young adulthood, while most of his peers were busy sowing wild oats and pushing their luck along the boundaries of freedom, Ayeni’s mind was made up about what he would do and who he intends to become. Thus it was no surprise to all those who knew him when in his early 20s, he established Skymit Limited, a high net-worth automobile company in 1986.

More than two decades since the established of his company, Skymit Limited, coined from the term, “Sky is the limit,” has evolved beyond the bounds of the founder’s vision and projections for and about the business. So successful is the firm that it has given birth to a smaller and profitable subsidiary like Affordable Cars Limited, a low and medium car sales and service outfit.

Today, the business concern has mutated into a very lucrative venture generating turnover in excess of N2billion yearly while keeping hundreds of Nigerians comfortably out of the unemployment market. This no doubt establishes Ayeni as a master of his universe and a director of a billion-naira generating empire thus affirming his niche in the league of extraordinarily driven and gifted Nigerians whose talent continually overwhelms the odds to the delight and inspiration of the world.

However, even though Ayeni modestly attributes his eminence and business success to God Almighty, it is a common jest within his circle of friends in high society that he (Ayeni) probably caught God’s attention via his relentless and ambitious exertions from his hammock amid the tumultuous boundaries of young adulthood.

Tayo Ayeni


He is not necessarily the world’s greatest businessman or the most successful but if you were able to trade places with any corporate chieftain, wouldn’t you consider Tayo Ayeni? He simply has the most fun. Ayeni’s most impressive feat however is to engineer an awesome life for himself.
This refers to his ingenuity at finding time to yacht, visit the cinema and the gym. And of course, Ayeni also loves dancing; he also loves to go away to serene places such as Seychelles, Maldives, Canary Islands, and Capri on vacation. Despite his hectic business schedule with its grueling man-hours, he finds time for activities that feeds his passions, holds his interest, and incorporates his family even while permitting some modicum of guilty pleasures.

This no doubt conflicts with the boring global car dealer stereotype. Ayeni endeavours not to have his pace and attitude to life dictated to him by the demands and constraints of his job thus his conscious and continual attempt to marshal a perfect synthesis of work, play and responsibility into his business and life model.

If Ayeni doesn’t fulfill the now ubiquitous stereotype of the conventional businessman’s rise from grass to grace, it’s because he never purported to be one and his story was never scripted to satisfy such typecast. The outlines of the story are familiar: A product of the famous Ilesha Grammar School in his native Ilesha, Osun State, Tayo Ayeni’s thirst for educational excellence and self-actualization spurred him to venture outside the country to Fronsynly Polytechnic, Italy where he graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering.

Ever since, he has not looked back, applying himself with inspiring gusto to the onerous task of fashioning an extraordinary man out of his evolving persona. Daily, Ayeni has channels all of his intellectual and capital resources into making a name for himself in the highly competitive world of automobile business.

Besides Skymit Limited, Ayeni also calls the shots at Space Ventures Ltd, an establishment that deals in photographic materials; Space Properties, a real estate firm; Moontrends Holdings, a project financing and management firm, and Limoserve among others.

He is a member of the Nigerian-Italian Alumni, Nigeria-South Africa Chambers of Commerce, Ikoyi Club, Lagos Country Club, and the highly influential auto entrepreneur is not given to crass extravagance and inclinations to show-off which oftentimes causes many a Nigerian businessman to seek cheap popularity and respect by spending indiscriminately on extremely expensive and inconsequential luxury acquisitions.

Ayeni never seeks his highs by throwing money at musicians to sing his praises nor is he besotted with the fast lane to the extent of living his life like it’s meant for a speed track. He remains true to character, upholding the ideal that success is better defined by one’s contributions to the development of humanity thus his extensive philanthropic gestures spanning several social segments and divides across the country.

Ayeni has received several local and international awards in recognition of his exemplary entrepreneurship strides, including but not limited to ‘Best Entrepreneurial CEO, Ikeja City Award’ (four straight years), ‘Best Multi-Stock Showroom’ – On-Wheels Magazine (2009), ‘King of Luxury’ –’ amongst others.

Happily married to Adetutu, the pioneer Managing Director of Skymiles Travels and Tours Limited, a member of the advisory Council of the prestigious Grange School and successful lawyer, the couple is blessed with five kids and a blissful home thus remaining a role model of sort to several of his peers who persistently find it difficult to keep a successful home alongside a successful business.

In the comity of auto dealers in Nigeria and beyond, Ayeni, no doubt stands out; not because of his towering physique or moneyed pedigree, but because he has come a long way in an industry notorious for stillborn business initiatives and impressive concerns with short trajectories. He continues to be a corporate iconoclast, defying conventional wisdom, pushing the envelope, poking fun at the big guys, saying exactly what he thinks and doing exactly what he wants.

Ayeni no doubt stands in the same league as international automobile giants like Russia’s Sergei Petrov and America’s late Jim Moran. Petrov is the founder of Rolf, Russia’s biggest car dealership. A taxi driver who built a car dealership empire, it’s not only Petrov’s clothes that buck the trend. He grew rich from selling cars, one of Russia’s most corrupt businesses, but it appears that he’s remained scrupulously honest while doing it, concentrating on quality of service rather than nefarious schemes. Today Rolf has 28 showrooms in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Business is flourishing.

Moran, on the other hand (until he died at 88) was a billionaire car dealer and major philanthropist in South Florida. It would be recalled that Moran founded automotive distributor JM Family Enterprises of Deerfield Beach, Fla., a company that has routinely been ranked as one of America’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” by Fortune magazine. He built an automobile empire that today ranks as the 18th-largest privately held company by Forbes magazine, with annual revenues of more than $11 billion. JM Family’s Southeast Toyota is the world’s biggest independent distributor of Toyotas. Moran was also a philanthropist; Jim Moran Foundation gave more than $2 million in grants to more than 40 organizations, according to the foundation’s website.

About Author



Related Articles


No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment