Taiwo A. Ogunsola to receive an International Award at the Prestigious 76th Annual 2013 NFMDA & 100 BWFS Convention United-States: Monday August 05, 2013
Taiwo A. Ogunsola is indeed an amazing woman who took the years of hard work with a proverbial grain of salt, knew that with God’s blessing, it would all pay off one day.
In1997, while working as a nurse, Taiwo had a dream about going into the funeral industry but she had no knowledge of where or how to begin. Sometime after, she was attached as a private nurse to a terminally ill lady, who later became her friend. While she nursed her they shared stories of their own lives and became fond of each other. Therefore when she passed away, Taiwo was indeed affected. When Taiwo had to go to the mortuary to see her body, she looked very different. It seemed at that time, the dream had begun to nudge at her. She recalled in the past that she had rarely seen any deceased lying-in-state look like they did when they were living. This thought continued to linger with her and she prayed for God’s direction. Taiwo heard God say” you can make a change”. She decided to embark on the venture tagged “Nigerian Funeral Industry Revamp” with the support of her late husband (Olalekan Ogunsola).
In 1998 Taiwo began an apprenticeship in the UK, with East Surrey Hospital and J.E. Gillmans & Sons of Tooting, London, UK to gain a Diploma in Embalment and Mortuary Management. With a business and nursing background, she was able to rapidly understand the technical and business management aspects of the industry.
In 1999, Taiwo returned to Nigeria after successfully concluding her training and began a partnership that became Lotard Funeral Services Ltd, in which she was Managing Director, CEO and Chief Embalmer. Taiwo conceptualised the business; arranged the commissioning of the project; secured the land; supervised the construction of the physical infrastructures; landscaped the site, and ordered and supervised installation of the 24 chamber mortuary. Within the first three months the business had already embalmed approximately 50 corpses and arranged 40 funerals. However due to differences that were unsettled, Taiwo left the business in 2000. Despite being very discouraged, her late husband encouraged her to forge ahead, count the losses and begin again.
For a short time in the same year, Taiwo took appointment as consultant for a company that had plans to set up a funeral home. Taiwo did not find fulfilment living another person’s dream, and was still determined to make that change. Taiwo registered the company name ‘TOS Funerals Ltd.’ (Taiwo Ogunsola and Sons- TOS) in 2000 and Taiwo began to apply for bank loans and freehold land with her husband, but it was not without distain.
A bomb blast disaster in 2001 in Lagos led to the Government seeking professionals to embalm and preserve the bodies of victims totalling over 200. Taiwo took on and implored the job successfully with the help and support of her husband, who monitored and handled the administrative aspects of the job. This assignment gave Taiwo the first insight into the conditions of the Government managed mortuaries in Lagos State. As always, she prayed about the situation and the duo then wrote their first proposal to the State Government to equip and manage the mortuary facilities.
Finally in 2002, their efforts won through as Taiwo was awarded the contract with Lagos State Government to supply and install 48 chamber body mortuaries to renovate Gbagada General Hospital Mortuary, and in addition supply and install 100 chamber body mortuaries to renovate Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Mortuary; projects which also both involved rebuilding the existing structures and landscaping the grounds. Further to building and equipping both mortuaries, Taiwo was also given the contract to operate and manage both mortuaries under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme with Lagos State Government. To date both mortuaries have a staff count that is 50 strong.
Gaining the trust of the Nigerian healthcare profession took time; especially entering into an industry where there were already funeral home establishments in their second and third generation ownership, so attaining the opportunity to make an impact and make changes took a lot of patience. To enhance the company therefore, Taiwo took membership with several international professional bodies and became certified in the funeral service field.
To this date she holds: Certified Crematory Operator – Certification No: 3286-CANAU-10-08; Member of the BIE (British Institute of Embalmers) with Higher Diploma in Mortuary Science (registration number: 4419); Certified Funeral Services Practitioner (CFSP 08-10-4948); Member of the Organisation: 100 Black Women in Funeral Service, U.S.A.; Member of NFDA (National Funeral Directors Association), U.S.A.; Member of NFDAMA (National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association), U.S.A.; Member of NAFD (National Association of Funeral Directors), U.K.
After several years of proven success, in 2008, Taiwo was again awarded further contracts by Lagos State Government to supply and install a 52 and 140 chamber body mortuaries to renovate their Mainland (Yaba) General Hospital Mortuary (now known as the Social Responsibility Centre for Lagos State) and Lagos Island Hospital Mortuary respectively. In preparation for the Cremation Bill that was to be passed in Nigeria, Taiwo also supplied and installed a crematorium at the Mainland (Yaba) General Hospital Mortuary (Social Responsibility Centre), the very first in the State for Lagos Government.
Once again a testament to the hard work of Taiwo and the TOS Company was the award of the contract to supply and install 72 chamber body mortuaries for Ogun State Government in 2009, to renovate the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital Sagamu Mortuary.
Taiwo aspires for her company TOS to be the market leader in their field in terms of the quality of their service and products, not only technically but also in terms of management and advisory services. This aspiration and vision led to Taiwo attending the Family Enterprise Challenge Programme with INSEAD, in Fontainebleau, France in October 2011.
In 2012, the TOS Company began managing the Mainland (Yaba) General Hospital Mortuary facility on behalf of Lagos State Government. It was in this year that the Dana Flight 992 Disaster occurred and Taiwo had to equip and operate the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Mortuary as the crisis centre during the aftermath.
2013 saw the TOS Company Funerals acting as consultant for the Lagos State Government and managing an emergency project to close Isolo General Hospital Morgue, involving the delicate transfer of corpses, management of families and notification to the public. This year also saw the long awaited opening of the TOS Company Funerals first private mortuary as its head office in Alausa on Wednesday 10th April 2013, and was dedicated in memory (10 years) of Taiwo’s late husband.
Taiwo is constantly looking to better the TOS Company Funerals in the industry, both nationally and internationally, and so is a regular attendee of the many funeral conventions and meetings as well as encouraging and sponsoring staff to attend these meets. Throughout the years of operation Taiwo and the TOS Company have managed to secure several exclusivity deals in West Africa with suppliers such as Dodge Chemicals, Batesville Caskets and Print-A-Plate, developing and building strong relationships throughout the industry.
Taiwo is thankful to God for the support she had from her late husband (they had big plans) and for the great children that He blessed her with. Together with her 3 children, with the rest of the great the TOS Company team. The TOS Company Funerals services will keep reaching to greater heights and will build a legacy that will outlive them, generations to come.
For more information, please contact: Elleanor Davis-Starks (407) 595-9277
Email @ Hundredbwfs@aol.com