In our part of the world, carpenters are generally regarded as school dropouts, alcoholics, shabbily dressed and very cunning in their dealings with their clients.
In fact, if you ever go to a basic school and ask the pupils to write an essay on their future careers, you will read about professions such as medicine, journalism, piloting, accounting, engineering, law, banking, among others.
Carpentry will be conspicuously missing on the list. This is because if a young boy does not do well in school, his parents are always quick to remind him that if he doesn’t pull his weight, he will be sent to learn carpentry.
It was to debunk this notion that Mr Samuel Yeboah decided to be unique in his chosen career.
How many times do you find a carpenter wearing suit with neckties, smart casuals or sporty clothes? Well, this how Mr Yeboah loves to appear when going to his office or going out to meet his clients. When he is working with his tools, he loves to wear his overalls and safety boots.
Aside from his sense of fashion, Mr Yeboah has strived to take his education to the highest level. Despite his failure at the secondary level, he vowed not to be a school dropout.
By dint of hard work, he is today a holder of a Master of Philosophy degree (MPhil) in Religion, certificate he took proudly during the graduation ceremony at the University of Ghana last weekend.
Mr Yeboah doing what he knows best
Road to carpentry
Narrating how he found himself in carpentry to The Mirror, he said he failed the GCE Ordinary Level examination and was asked by his uncle to better his results and go to teacher training college, but he refused because he wasn’t interested in teaching.
“I discussed this with my best friend, John Yawson (Johhny Nash), and he jokingly said I should go and learn carpentry. Shockingly, I didn’t get upset because I knew Johnny’s brother-in-law was a carpenter. I agreed to give it a try and that was how it began,” he said.
Having lost both parents at an early age, Deportee, as Mr Yeboah is popularly known, decided to learn carpentry from Mr Enoch Adu Teiku, who is also known as Aducraft .
“The shop was then called the Craftsman before it was renamed Aducraft and we were then located at Firestone, close to Madina, a suburb of Accra, from October 1988 to 1995,” he recalled.
While learning the trade, Young Sammy decided to better his grades by registering for the Nov-Dec GCE examination. In his first attempt, he registered for nine subjects but didn’t do well in most of them.
“For instance, I had grade 9 in English Language, Wood Work, Art and Add Maths, 3 in Mathematics, 8 in Agricultural Science, 6 in Physics, and 6 in Technical Drawings,” he explained.
In 1991, he decided to change some of his Science subjects into Arts subjects and registered three subjects —English Language, in which he had grade 4, Economics, 5 and Bible Knowledge (BK), 4.
His friend Johnny Nash helped him with the BK, while one Enoch Agyei Asamoah (Jawara) taught him Economics. For the English Language, he went to enrol in part-time classes at Harvard College at Accra New Town.
With those grades, he decided to embark on his tertiary ambition. Consequently, he applied for a General Course in Construction at the Accra Polytechnic and he was offered admission.
Mr Samuel Yeboah graduated with a MPhil in Religion last weekend
That derailed the years he had to spend learning carpentry because he was shuttling between school and the carpentry shop. Unfortunately, his education at the polytechnic had to be truncated within six months due to financial constraints.
“I thought after paying my school fees that was the end. Little did I know that I had to pay fees each semester, do photocopies and get extra cash for food and transportation. The hustling was just too much and so I stopped and went back to concentrate fully on my carpentry work,” he giggled.
He graduated in 1995 and did work-and-pay with his master for two extra years. While working, he was paid 70,000 old cedis now GH¢7. In 1997, he decided to be on his own and so he started Home Worthy Furniture with one bench under a pear tree in their family house. At that time, showrooms were not very common, but he resolved to display his finished work in a showroom.
“With this big vision, I registered my company in 2000 and started putting up my showroom gradually. The first time I approached a block factory owner to be giving me blocks on credit, he enquired what a small boy like me needed a showroom for when well-established carpenters were displaying their works openly by the roadside. But, finally, he (May Construction) supported me, while my girlfriend at that time, Mercy, also gave me a loan to roof my showroom, for which I’m ever grateful. Indeed, a lot of people contributed to my life,” he stressed.
Mr Yeboah and his family
According to him, a carpenter was almost indispensable as far as the construction industry went because his expertise and talents covered a multitude of different areas, including setting foundations, laying new stairs, installing beams and installing trims, decorations and many more.
Being on his own at the beginning was a very tough one, he said, but he swore not to give up.
He said there were times he could not even sell a single shoe rack in a week because he was new on the market, but with time, some of his secondary school mates who were then teacher trainees and friends kept coming to him for chairs, beds, tables, shoe racks, wardrobes, among others, and the business took to shape.
”Gradually, some of my friends started introducing me to their family relations and the referrals kept expanding until today,” he recalled.
Currently, Mr Yeboah’s clients cut across, from educational institutions, hotels, banks, homes to corporate institutions. He has 10 workers who assist him to work on orders such as partitions, kitchen fittings, wardrobes, beds, staircases and many others.
Touching on why most clients did not trust artisans like carpenters, he explained that time was simply not of essence to some of his colleagues.
“To them, they do the client a favour, but they don’t know it is vice versa. I know there are artisans who will take money from their clients and yet will not deliver the job or even run into hiding. This is the kind of impression I try to change in my little corner,” he added.
Mr Yeboah is a staunch Presbyterian
Mr Yeboah was born to Mr Joseph K. Yeboah and Mrs Christiana Akosua Yeboah about 48 years ago. He is married to Mrs Docia Yeboah, with whom he has four girls — Maame Akua, Ewura Akua, Nana Adjoa and Afia Nhyira.
His three siblings are Beatrice Yeboah, Francis La-Kumi and Rose La-Kumi.
He had his primary education at Achimota Primary and advanced to the Suhum Secondary Technical School for his secondary education.
With passes from his remedial classes, he decided to seek admission to the Trinity Theological Seminary, Legon.
“The requirements were passes in English and Maths, which I had, so I joyfully applied for a certificate programme in Ministry. With the certificate, you can go on to apply for a diploma programme in Theology, which I did,” he stated.
Remarkably, he was adjudged the Overall Best Student for the Diploma programme in 2008. For Mr Yeboah, his intention is not to become a pastor but know about religion, in which he is much interested, and perhaps lecture in it in the immediate future.
His quest for higher education spurred him on to continue with a degree in Theology, which he completed with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.64; that is, a Second Class Upper.
Asked what his long essay topic was, he said he researched on “Migration of the youth from one church to another: A comprehensive study of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Faith Congregation, Madina, and Charismatic Evangelist Ministry, North Legon”.
In 2014, he went back to the Graduate School to do his MPhil in the Study of Religions. His dissertation was on Christian chiefs and African indigenous rituals in Ghana.
According to him, the research findings indicated that Christian chiefs could efficiently and effectively rule indigenous communities in Anum because they maintained all the rituals associated with chieftaincy.
“The Presbyterian Church, which was the first church in Anum, however, does not recognise these Christian chiefs in their congregations. They are not allowed to hold positions in the church. This study, I felt, was relevant in contemporary developments in chieftaincy, rituals, the church and African culture,” he explained.
Having tasted the various levels of education, Mr Yeboah intends to go ahead to pursue a doctorate degree while concentrating on his carpentry work.