InBusiness EXECUTIVE OUTLOOK: How we can emerge stronger from recession
Premiere Edition • January 2012 • From The Broad Street Journal
HABIB ELIAS Finally living out his dream KAYMAR JORDAN
THE MAKING OF AN EDITOR
NEW MAN IN POWER
LIMEGROVE’S VISIONARY CREATOR
InBusiness Premiere Edition • January 2012 executive outlook
How we can emerge stronger from recession? Comments from Andy Armstrong, Tony Best, John Williams, Peter Boos and Connie Smith. Pages 3-7 COVER STORY
Elias Habib: Finally Living his Dream
Some people are able to land their dream job or career from the moment they enter the world of work. For others, it can take a while. In the case of Habib Elias, it took over three decades. Page 8. FIRST PERSON
Mark King: New Man in Power
Barbados Light & Power’s new managing director talks about renewable energy and the company’s plans to reduce its dependency on oil. Page 13. PROFILE
Kaymar Jordan: The Making of an Editor
The Nation Publishing Co. Ltd.’s editorin-chief, Kaymar Jordan, recalls some of the events and experiences that shaped her skills and approach to her profession. Page 16. ENTREPRENEURS
Limegrove: Zen and the Genius of Paul Altman
The developer talks about the “process” that led to the design of the centre, the “bait” used to attract international retailers and the merchandising “rhythm” created to make it appealing to all. Page 20.
19 The Truth About Oranges, introduced by Amanda Cummins. In memoriam
24 Stuart de Silvia, a tribute by his brother Trevor.
from the publisher’s laptop
And so, we begin Welcome to INBusiness Magazine. I hope you will like this our first edition. Elsewhere in this issue (on page 12 to be exact) you will find our mission statement, our circulation targets (both in print and on the web, our ad rates, and so forth), so I don’t need to repeat them here. Why INBusiness magazine? Well, it is because I have this passion to write about you, the business people I meet and interact with daily as a journalist. The four executives and entrepreneurs selected for our premiere edition gave us in-depth interviews not knowing what sort of magazine we were planning to put them in. They trusted us to do right by them, and I hope we have. In addition to our “people” features, INBusiness will provide fair and independent commentary and analysis on the economic issues facing our country. We agree that the private sector should be the “engine” that drives economic growth; but we are not for a runaway train that mows down all in its path in the quest for profits. We do believe that companies have a responsibility to be good corporate citizens and, in fact, we plan to launch an awards competition to recognise those which give back to their communities. (More on that soon.) But we know that companies have to operate eficiently and that includes making profits. As Barbados, along with the many of the world’s economies, tries to return to economic growth, the relationship between the private and public sector has never been under greater scrutiny. We aim to follow that debate closely in these pages. Simply put, Barbados must modernise its approach to private enterprise if it is to have any chance of attracting significant foreign investment in the future. The time to start is now and INBusiness will play its role in profiling the people on the cutting edge of that change as well as analysing the pros and the cons of the policies being put forward, legislated and adopted. In the meantime, thanks for picking up a copy of this our premier edition. Please take a moment if you can to share with us your own ideas on how to make forthcoming issues better and more interesting to business people. You can send your comments to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 230-5687. Pat Hoyos, Editor & Publisher, INBusiness Magazine Published by Hoyos Publishing Inc. Keswick Centre Hastings, Ch. Ch. T 437-8772 M 230-5687 bsjbarbados @gmail.com Copyright 2011. Hoyos Publishing Inc. All rights Reserved
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InBusiness executive outlook How we can emerge stronger from recession?
Speed up slow pace of legislation by Andy Armstrong
ne of the key things for 2012 is the Social Partnership. It’s what we have to use to drive through the institutional changes that need to happen, particularly in the public sector. I think that everyone within recognises that we are the entity to do it, and I’d say two and a half of the partners are committed to it. So it’s just to get the government to fully commit and I think we can make some moves forward. Minister of Labour Esther Byer-Suckoo is very committed but her challenge has been to bring on all of the other ministries that should be there at the social partnership. But she is pushing hard on it, and if that can happen, and we can have some real dialogue with the civil service, we can start to move forward on a lot of things that are frustrating us in business in Barbados. One of the big things is the slow pace of legislation.We often lay the blame at the Chief Parliamentary Counsel’s feet, but I understand they are sometimes used as a scapegoat because it can be the various ministries that are supposed to feed the information into them and are just either tardy or not thorough in the information they give to the CPC, so they can’t make the legislative changes they need to make. I also have spoken about the sanitary and phyto-sanitary act, where, unless we update the legislation, we cannot export protein products to the European Union or to North America. The fundamental challenge here is that in Barbados we recognise the Chief Medical Officer as the competent authority on protein products, but pretty much everywhere else around the world they recognise the Chief Veterinary Officer. We losing exports because of this. Chickmont Foods is one example. They have a potential contract to supply a cruise line in the UK with chicken - which surprised me at first but the U.K. line likes the quality of the chicken that Chickmont produces and that’s worth about a million US dollars a year. The fish producers are also unable to
export to the U.S. and the UK because of this same (need to update our legislation). This has been pending for at least ten years, maybe longer. Some people say there will have to be a wage or pay freeze in order to stabilize the economy, but in effect there has been a pay freeze for a few years and I don’t think there has been any new increase in the public sector wage bill since shortly after late prime minister David Thompson came to office, and that had already been agreed previously. The union may be asking for increases at certain companies which they perceive to be doing well, but they are looking at the situation for each company, and if they know a company is having a difficult time they are not realistically looking for an increase in salaries of wages, although they might be looking for some improvement in conditions.
think 2012 is the year in which we really start as a country to adopt the green economy. There are a lot of companies that are committed to going forward and we are going to see a lot of installations for solar (photo-voltaic panels that produce electricity) going up. The last budget has made it more attractive financially to go to renewable energy, and I think once people study the numbers we’re going to see a lot more adoption of renewable energy and certainly of energy efficiency - transitions to LED instead of incandescent lighting. A number of government departments are also committed to putting in solar installations this year. In households it makes sense if you are paying income tax, because you can offset (the initial cost) against it. The other main area is the revitalisation of Bridgetown, and we are looking to build on what we’ve achieved so far. We’ve been spending a lot of time building consensus, and to date we’ve had four “Bridgetown Alive” events which have focussed on culture and entertainment, and trying to bring people into Bridgetown. The last one, which had the Duty-Free Day associated with it,
was the most successful. We’ve had really good response from both duty-free and non dutyfree stores that they really had a phenomenal day. A lot of people would love to have a duty-free day on a regular basis, but I don’t think that’s going to happen, but we will be putting into place a project coordinator for Bridgetown who will be setting up regular events in the City, on a monthly basis. We hope to offer specials and late shopping on that day in addition to entertainment, trying to encourage people to come back to Bridgetown. We also have many members in Holetown and enjoy a good relationship with the Holetown Chamber of Trade, so we will also be looking to do things there as well. Sheraton Centre has also approached us to work with them and we will because we want to do things to drive business throughout Barbados. Going back to Bridgetown, we are in the process of installing close-circuit cameras (funded by the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc.) which will help with security, and we have started a programme with the Barbados Light & Power Co. to install additional and brighter street lights to make town feel safer at night. Finally, I would like Barbadians to realise that we have to be more self-reliant, and do more for ourselves rather than look to government to do everything. We have to be more aware of those around us who are not as fortunate as we are. We have to do what we can to help them, whether by volunteering time, or if we have some spare money, to donate to charity. Andy Armstrong is president of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry and CEO of Armstrong Agencies Ltd.
InBusiness executive outlook How we can emerge stronger from recession?
Getting Barbados more competitive by Tony Best
Twas the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Although Charles Dickens, the 19th century English novelist wasn’t thinking of Barbados when he wrote those words in his classic, “A Tale of Two Cities,” more than 150 years later they aptly describe the economic atmosphere in this Caribbean island-nation in the early years of the 21st century. For as it welcomes the New Year, it’s clear Barbados is at the economic crossroads, the place where the best and the worst intersect. The “best” is reflected in the United Nations Development Program’s recent conclusion that Barbados’ quality of life as measured by human development factors leads the Caribbean and Latin America. At the same time, it has one of the best track records in the Commonwealth of Nations when it comes to offering women an excellent opportunity to rise to their full potential. Added to those successes, it was recently rated by Transparency International as one the least corrupt states in the world, 16th out of 183 countries. Its ranking is on par with that of the United Kingdom nut better than the United States’. But like most things, there are two sides to every picture and that’s where the “worst of times” becomes more salient, where the rubber meets the road. Barbados’ unemployment rate of 12 per cent is at a five year high; its mountain of foreign and domestic debt has surged past 100 per cent of gross domestic product and is choking off investment in social development and the infrastructure; inflation inches closer to the eight per cent threshold and may rise in 2012; anemic economic growth is a painful fact of life, largely because of the global financial crisis and questionable financial decisions; and the prospects of robust economic expansion are negligible at best. How then can Barbados bridge the gap between the “best” and the “worst”? The answer lies in its competitiveness which takes into consideration such factors as the levels of education, technological readiness,
innovation and labor market efficiency as well as economic performance; the commitment to the rule of law; and the state of the infrastructure. When the World Economic Forum looked at global competitiveness in 2011-12 it gave Barbados the best report card in the Caribbean and Central America and pegged it in the fourth spot in the Western Hemisphere, behind the United States, Canada and Chile. And that happened in the face of what the Forum called the country’s “severe deterioration in macro-economic stability”. But as the island inched up by one notch to 42nd in the Forum’s global ranking, it’s clear that the island-nation of almost 300,000 people who are basking in the glory of the World’ Bank’s classification of their homeland as a “high income” state, must accelerate the pace of its competitiveness. The economic deterioration of the past 12 months, caused by a decline in tourism earnings, a weakening of public finances, rising debt and a yawning budget deficit, has led to a warning that Barbados’ future capacity to undertake the necessary investments “to boost its competitive performance” could be damaged. That’s why some urgent steps are needed by Barbados to get the economy moving again. One of them involves workforce productivity. The absentee rate attributed to medical leave is much too high and that’s true whether it’s in the private or public sectors. Far too many workers abuse the medical leave provisions of their conditions of employment and that headache in turn increases the cost of doing business, lowers productivity and ultimately hurts competitiveness.
ext is the volume of red tape. Sir Courtney Blackman, the first Governor of the Central Bank, has frequently complained about the length of time it takes for public sector decisions to be made. Far too often Barbados seems trapped by its own voluminous bureaucratic layers that cause the government to delay mak-
ing crucial decisions for months at a time when a streamlined process can dramatically slash the tardiness and quicken the pace of getting things done. Any improvement in decision-making must begin with the cabinet. Far too many matters, often trivial decisions, end up before the cabinet, delaying action. Why should routine travel by a minister, senior civil servant or a diplomat serving abroad be the subject of a cabinet decision, for instance? The time taken to consider such travel could be spent on far more important issues. In its assessment of Barbados, the World Economic Forum urged the country to “leverage its strengths” such as its stable, transparent and reliable institutions as well as its “high quality infrastructure and excellent educational system.” It doesn’t require rocket science for Barbados to figure out how to get more out of its parliamentary system and its independent judiciary. It must eliminate most of the backlog of civil and criminal cases before its courts, a commitment made by the new Chief Justice, Marston Gibson, who is proposing an alternative dispute resolution system that relies on the use of mediators to settle cases. It’s worth trying, leaving the more complex cases to the judiciary to resolve. Obviously, a heavy dose of entrepreneurial dynamism would spur competitiveness and that can be pushed along by reducing the procedures needed to launch a small enterprise. It must avoid like the plague the prospect of falling behind in the application of technology which fuels efficiency and competitiveness. In recent months, a sense of insecurity began to creep into people’s daily lives as concerns about crime rise. Such worries, although far more serious and worrisome in Costa Rica, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago than in Barbados can hurt competitiveness. Barbados must use the window of opportunity to get more out of its strengths while addressing its weaknesses and challenges. Tony Best is an Caribbean journalist.
InBusiness executive outlook How we can emerge stronger from recession?
Let’s make it easier to do business by John Williams
he main question we face is: How can we in Barbados make it easier to do business for the benefit of all of us in Barbados, not just for the benefit of companies? Specifically, we need to look at all of the things we do on the government and regulatory side, and ask, “Why do we do them? What is the value in doing them?” It might be as simple as putting a ten-cent stamp on tax receipts, or making visitors have the inconvenience of filling out an application for a visitor’s license anytime they are hiring a car. Those things that we can’t make a good case for keeping we have to scrap; those that we need to keep we have to ask, What is the most efficient way of doing this? In doing Having twice the number so we would free up more resources to do other things we want to needed to do the amount do, whether it’s more infant dayof work that is required care or more nursing care for the elderly, or better maintenance for is not creating jobs. it’s the road system.
not do. If it is a government department it will require more resources from the Consolidated Fund to actually pay those extra wages. That money comes from the taxpayers and could be better spent on things that are important to us as a society, There are so many things that we know need doing, but you hear that there is not enough money to do it. If we look at it socially, all of us are concerned about the maintenance of society’s values. At the same time, we are expecting the mothers to be in the working environment, but to do that, we have to make sure that, whether privately or publicly provided, there’s affordable access to daycare facilities, so that the mother can leave her children in a facility where they will have the sort of care that she feels comfortable with. It helps the society as a whole, That is the sort of redirection of taxpayers’ money, both individual There are areas where the govern- and corporate, that I don’t think many people would ment really has to maintain its role, argue with. for example, national security, revhere are valid criticisms that enue collection and so on, but there business in Barbados is quite conservative are other areas which are not intrinand is not sufficiently risk-taking. Having sic to government’s role in terms of said that, it is all to do with the business its duties to citizens. We can get the private sector environment. If we make it easier for entrepreneurs to do these on a more efficient basis but it doesn’t to do business we will create the environment where mean handing out largesse, or giving the contracts more people, Barbadians and foreigners alike, will to favoured businesses or large ones, In fact it is an want to set up businesses here. And that will stimuideal opportunity to create opportunities for existing late the level of activity, ideas and competition that entrepreneurs and every new businesses. Whoever people are looking for from the business community. provides these services the government still has to But this is not something that can be mandated. keep its senses about it when determining what costs You cannot change the outcomes by doing things the it pays for them. I repeat, it is about national producsame way. The best way of increasing wages is not by tivity and efficiency, not handing out favours. legislating it although of course you have to legislate National productivity is essential.We cannot view to protect against discrimination and other socially private businesses, statutory corporations or governunacceptable practices but to have an environment ment ministries as being employment agencies. Having twice the number needed to do the amount of where it is easy to do business, which will benefit all work required is not creating jobs, it’s just a very inef- Barbadians. • John Williams is chairman of the Barbados Private ficient way of running the economy. And the drain of Sector Agency Inc. and CEO oof Cave Shepherd & Co. those extra people means that the business then asks Ltd. for a concession or for protections which it should
just a very inefficient way of running the economy.
InBusiness executive outlook How we can emerge stronger from recession?
We need to be no. 1 for enterprise
by Peter Boos
n December 15 2011,Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund has warned that the global economy faces the prospect of “economic retraction, rising protectionism, isolation and . . . what happened in the 30s -Depression. ” At this point, a eurozone recession is certain. While its depth and length cannot be predicted, a continued credit crunch, sovereign-debt problems, lack of competitiveness, and fiscal austerity imply a serious downturn. The US – growing at a snail’s pace since 2010 – faces considerable downside risks from the eurozone crisis. Elsewhere among the major advanced economies, the United Kingdom is double dipping, as front-loaded fiscal consolidation and eurozone exposure undermine growth.” The Barbados economy is in crisis, as indicated by a large debt-to-GDP ratio (well over 100%); large fiscal deficit (6-8% GDP), and stagnant economic growth, with all major economic sectors stressed. In addition, the last S&P rating indicates a negative outlook, business profits have fallen significantly (and, as a result, revenue from corporate taxes), Foreign Direct Investment falling, and unemployment is rising (12.1% according to last IMF report). Our foreign exchange reserves are weak, and there is evidence of increases in nonperforming loans at banks. Slow real estate sales and falling valuations also point to a very weak outlook if we do not address our challenges. Additionally, deferral of road maintenance and postponement of tax refunds have created their own problems. Falling incomes have lead to reduced consumer demand with negative ramifications for business. Increased taxes and the cost of electricity add to a burden many are finding too heavy to carry. In these circumstances Barbados has some URGENT decisions to make. Postponement or failure to act will be disastrous. The most urgent actions are needed in the
following areas: 1.Reduction of the size and cost of Government and Improvement in its Performance and Value for Money. This must include downsizing of the labour force (with adequate separation provisions), much higher levels of productivity (supported by systems to measure and hold people accountable), elimination of discretionary expenditure (overseas travel, etc.) and reduction in some transfers to entities who rely on Government support. Privatisation of certain state-run operations must be speeded up. Disposal of some real estate owned by Government is essential to generate cash, reduce debt and eliminate holding costs. Barbados cannot sustain a civil service of close on 30,000 people. Job One should be to create a fully empowered and dynamic civil service in a system that allows them to make decisions and perform. This reform should also include the reform of our national governance model to eliminate the burden of adversarial politics that exists today. A model built on an expanded and strengthened social partnership might be the way to go. Effectiveness, transparency and inclusiveness should guide the approach. 2.Grow the economy The focus must be on making Barbados the No. 1 entrepreneurial hub in the world through: (a) Competitiveness (open economy, business facilitation, lower business costs including taxation) so that we can really engage in global trade; (b) Attraction of international entrepreneurs, high net-worth individuals and foreign direct investment through innovative immigration policies to attract skills and investment and to open new export markets; (c) Urgently reforming the agencies of government that directly impact business facilitation, including customs and immigration, town planning, and the corporate affairs and licensing departments. (d) Expand ICT capacity and telecoms infrastructure (e) Develop a new collaborative pact with
labour based on productivity and performance (f ) Open up the legal services profession to international competition (g) Engage the right skills to fast track legislation to enable all sectors of the economy; (h) Rapidly modernize our judicial system to ensure that the administration of justice functions speedily, efficiently and effectively and provides reasonable access to justice for all persons irrespective of their means. 3.Diversify the economic base (a) New industries focused on earning foreign exchange should be given much attention. Professional services, arts/culture/entertainment, sport, education, health and medicine, biosciences, ICTs, events. (b) Existing sectors-tourism and agriculture need innovation and investment. Dynamic plans are needed to breathe life in to these struggling sectors. (c) Focus attention on new markets in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. (d) Work with the diaspora to attract investment; (e) Expand mandates of companies already operating in Barbados. 4.Elimination of Corruption We need to introduce integrity legislation, provide government funding for elections and make it illegal to fund elections from private contributions. There is little doubt that the next several years will be very challenging for Barbados. The above actions will only happen if many more people engage in their democracy and demand and get leadership capable of execution. • Peter Boos is chairman of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation Inc.
InBusiness executive outlook How we can emerge stronger from recession?
We must facilitate ALL business
by Connie Smith
think that before we actually consider ourselves as being competitive we need to take a step back and engage in a candid discussion - by way of a SWOT analysis - as to what really are our strengths and weaknesses, and therefore what are the real opportunities and threats. Many of the jurisdictions that compete in the market in which we operate clearly have done that and identified their niche, and while Barbados’ niche has always been negotiating double taxation and bilateral investment treaties, I think we also have to combine that with other things that users of both traditional and non-traditional financial centres now demand, and that is a much more agile and responsive sector in which to operate. What we’re seeing now is that users are no longer comparing international financial centres on, say, how many tax information agreements they have entered into, but really how quickly they can facilitate business, which is why we really have got to do whatever is necessary to expeditiously facilitate legitimate business in Barbados. And that is where we can add value. There are so many agencies involved in the smallest of processes in Barbados. We need to review those processes, consolidate and refresh them, and make them a lot more sensible and agile, and certainly cut down the amount of time it takes to process anything in Barbados. So I think we need to find a way of marrying our long-established strategy of negotiating treaties with a more agile framework within which we can operate. I would like to see this done very early in the year by way of a very meaningful strategic retreat for international businesses. This imperative strategic retreat should have strong collaborative representation by both the private and public sectors, and it should be an in-depth and candid discussion on all aspects of international business in Barbados. In doing so, we can ultimately create and embrace a new strategic plan for international business. The existing plan expires in 2012, hence why the retreat is
critical at this juncture. So it’s a good time for us to redefine what international business means to Barbados, because I think that it may have changed. We need to look very closely at being more inclusive in some respects, and by that I mean dispel the mystery that international business is only for international users to bring business here. We have to open our doors so that Barbadians can use the international network and infrastructure to sell their services. We have a very strong cultural offering, and in using our double taxation treaty network we need to be able to offer more opportunities to Barbadians at the international level. That may mean a redefining of international business as we currently know it.
We in the private sector can meaningfully engage with people in the public sector on what is involved in those various processes. They may have put some of the steps in those processes for various reasons, and we must understand what those reasons are and explain why some of them are perhaps unnecessary. But the private sector has every opportunity to recommend processes that could be improved. There are a number of agencies that are key to us, for example, the Corporate
users are no longer comparing international financial centres on how many tax information agreements they have, but how quickly they can facilitate business.
Affairs and Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO), and the International Business Unit. I am aware that there was an EU-funded study that was completed earlier this year (which made) many recommendations on (these two agencies) working more harmoniously, cutting down some of the processes the users have to engage in to ultimately get an end result. There are also a number of legislative enhancements that have been promised to the industry, and while some progress has been made, they aren’t actually on the books. These include amendments to the Societies of Restricted Liabilities Act, enactment of the foundation legislation as well as the trust companies legislation, amendments to the Companies Act, regulations to support the International Corporate and Trust Providers Act, as well as amendments to that very same act, and updates to the mutual funds act to make it a meaningful piece of legislation, because it was flawed from the very outset. Both the private and public sector have widely accepted that there were significant deficiencies when it came in to force (in the late 1990s). So we have not been able to use that legislation to any great advantage, so a very significant overhaul is on the cards. With other jurisdictions using their own models, we now have the ability to cherrypick from their legislation what works best and how we can make it better so we can have a premium product to offer the international market. So I would like to see us working more closely with the Chief Parliamentary Counsel’s office so that we can understand their processes and how we can get some of these amendments or new pieces of legislation into enactment in a much quicker period of time. • Connie Smith is president of the Barbados International Business Association and managing director of Tricor Caribbean Ltd.
InBusiness cover story Habib Elias with his star morning show announcer Alex Jordan at a recent corporate event. (Photo by Alwyn Kirk Harding)
Habib Elias: Finally living his dream The deejay-driven, bangin’ the hits, standing-room-only sound of SLAM 101.1FM has taken the airwaves by storm.
ome people are lucky enough to launch into their dream job or career from the moment they enter the world of work. Some never achieve it, and for others, it can take a while. For Habib Elias, it took over three decades. Two years ago, on January 10, 2010, Mr. Elias’ radio station,
SLAM 101.1FM, went live on air, and quickly became one of the most popular stations in Barbados. It was as if all of Habib’s pentup creativity and passion for deejaying and popular music had suddenly found its natural outlet, producing a soundscape that makes it stand out among its competitors.
DJ Fuzz live on air at SLAM. (Photo by Alwyn Kirk Harding) From the moment you enter the reception area of SLAM’s studios, located in an unprepossessing building at Haggatt Hall, St. Michael, you feel as if you are in a different world: walls painted in solid reds, blacks and greys signal the modern approach. A quick tour of the on-air studio reveals a deejay swaying to the beat, his announcer sidekick beside him. Both are standing, to keep the energy level flowing. No sitting down when you’re on air at SLAM. Large monitors show what’s going on in the news, the music scene and in sports, allowing the on-air personalities to be aware of any breaking story in news or entertainment. In Habib Elias’ small corner office, he explains how he gradually achieved his goal of translating his love of deejaying, which he ac-
quired as a teenager, through two other signature businesses to his present million-dollar-plus investment. It is a story with broader meaning in the overall economic context as it is one example of a family’s transition out of a dying sector in Barbados, textile retailing, into a new one, broadcasting, which is part of the growing creative industries sector. As was expected of him, a teenaged Habib Elias went to work for his father, Fauzi Elias, the founder and owner of Everybody’s Store on Swan Street. He worked there for twenty years, deejaying on the side. It was a very difficult time, he recalls, when he had to tell his father that he would not be staying in the fabric business. “People InBusinessJanuary2012•9
were travelling more and buying readymade clothes overseas, not pants’ lengths and going to their tailor,” he says. “The world was changing and I could see it was not going to happen for me in the textile business.” At the time, Everybody’s Store had a second branch, on High Street in Bridgetown. “We closed that store and went on and created Bubba’s Sports Bar & Restaurant” he recalls. That was in 1995. Habib named the bar after his younger brother, whom he had nicknamed Bubba after a wrestler they used to watch on TV. Bubba’s set a new standard for local sports bars, introducing multiple large screens showing different sports. It was an instant hit with tourists and locals alike, a popularity it maintains to this day. Despite Bubba’s Sports Bar’s outstanding success, Habib felt the pull elsewhere. “It wasn’t really what I wanted to do - I wanted get into the music business,” he says. The Elias family had kept the Swan Street flagship store going even after Bubba’s opened, until Habib could see his dad was getting too old to be working every day, and he did not see the business growing any further. “I had spent my time in that business, I had put in 20 years.” The decision was taken to close Everybody’s, giving Habib the chance to pursue his passion for the music industry. Habib says the textile (fabric) business will probably always remain part of Swan Street’s allure, but it won’t be “like in the old days, with cloth flying all over the place.” After six years into Bubba’s, Habib then went on to launch Club Xtreme. He was getting another step closer to his dream. “More music,” he says. “People still say Club Xtreme was one of the most beautiful clubs in the Caribbean - pure hype.” But he always knew it was going to be a shortterm investment, “because my goal was always to own a radio station.” He applied for a license and his dream, after over thirty years, was about to become reality. From his experience with Club Xtreme he selected his Programme Director, Keron Hector (a.k.a. Scratch Master, who works on the morning show with Alex Jordan) and Patrick Bellamy (a.k.a. Salt). Mr. Hector, a highly-qualified programme director for another station in the Caribbean, use to come to Barbados to deejay at the club. “I needed a ‘no nonsense’ person who could control the deejays and their egos and someone well-experienced,” he says.
Above: SLAM’s Operations Manager Tracee Albert at her desk. Photo by Alwyn Kirk Harding. The team was built around that hire and that of Andrew Denny, Technical Director. Starting with fifteen people, SLAM 101.1FM now has 25 permanent staffers. ut what was the station going to do to get its share of audience? Habib decided it would play pop/urban music and be deejay-driven. “SLAM was and is projected to be a pop/urban radio station,” he says. “Pop first. That is how we managed to penetrate the market within the first two years. All we were hearing in Barbados was either dub, reggae or soca.” But with the age of iPods and smartphones, young people, he says, have been exposed to much more than the region’s music, “but we were not hearing it on the radio. So I knew there was a market there.” He adds that there are two types of radio in Barbados, and SLAM is a deejay-driven one. “The other stations don’t really have deejays, he claims. “They have announcers who just pick the music, but it is not presented like a club or party scene. You have to have the talent for that.” SLAM also re-established what Habib calls the old traditional radio set-up - announcer and deejay - to work in three-hour shifts. It makes life simpler. The average shift at the existing stations was four to five hours a day. “The deejays will tell you it is horrible, it is brain-racking.” He claims most of his competitors are now following suit. “I am flattered to know they want to be like me,” he quips. People with less entrepreneurship run-
ning through their veins might ask, why did Habib Elias create SLAM in the middle of the worst global recession since the Great Depression? “I was told I was crazy to do it,” he admits, but “I took that gamble, because I felt there was a weakness, and bam!, SLAM came in and fulfilled that weakness. Why call it SLAM? “I was focussed on my vision of the music coming at you all the time, deejay-driven. I considered Jamming, but it sounded too reggae, then my son, Adam a.k.a King Bubba, said, “let’s SLAM them” (the listeners). That’s how it came about and everybody loved it.” SLAM 101.1FM features Alex Jordan in its 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. morning segment. Habib describes Ms. Jordan as a “brilliant announcer who attracts the corporate listeners with her segments like ‘What Drives You Crazy’ and ‘No, But Seriously’. Although the music is young, they listen because they like the shows.” Ms. Jordan is followed by Lady NV (Natasha Bynoe) from 9 a.m. to noon. The audience’s age for the two segments is probably between 30 and 45, he says. From there it gets younger and younger as the day progresses. The bottom line, says Habib, is the clubstyle format. “They hear the music being delivered in a club-style, they hear the deejays mixing, scratching - they like that, instead of having to listen to every tune for four minutes - song after song cutting in and out.” On the sales side, says Habib, there aren’t many layers to go through to get a decision. “SLAM is Barbadian owned and independently operated. I’m the boss, that’s it. That way, I can knock off 30 percent of the rates out there, because I have the (less complex) structure. So I have forced my competitors to drop their rates, because they couldn’t compete,” he claims. Today, he says, information is coming at people rapidly from all directions, and that is why SLAM doesn’t do news, apart from reading the latest headlines. Waiting until 4:30 to hear the news is passé, he says, as “you know the news already.” The announcers working in the studio have three TV monitors in front of them and can alert listeners to any breaking story or piece of news as it happens. And while he is happy that other stations are producing news programmes, “I prefer to keep focussed on what I do - bangin the hits”. Asked to provide an estimate of SLAM’s audience, Habib points out that “On Facebook we have over 22,000 fans, double all
ing company, to sell advertising time for the station. He says the idea of outsourcing the advertising has worked well, as the kinds of people Mr. Haynes targets comprise the same market SLAM wants to reach. Habib credits his wife of 28 years, Marian, for her support in all his endeavours.“I’m more the one that goes out there. From the time I come up with the SLAM’s Advertising Manager Jigga Ward at work idea, then she starts to work at it. ” Mrs. Elias oversees the adin the recording studio. Photo by Alwyn Kirk ministration for the company, as Harding. she did for Habib’s earlier venthe other stations combined. It’s unbelievtures. Her official title is finanable.” Based on that number of computer- cial controller of HabMar investments, the owning followers, Habib says he thinks name created by combining the first three SLAM probably has an overall listenership letters of the couple’s first names. of 50,000 or more. In addition, he says, “you can download an app for SLAM on your he teenager who Blackberry or iPhone and plug it into you liked to deejay has thus becar radio anywhere in the world” and you come the adult who presides can also listen online at www.slam101fm. over a deejay-driven radio com station, and Habib’s passion SLAM has also contracted Richard for presenting music as a party experience Haynes, who runs South Central market- comes to the fore when he talks about
wanting to develop the potential of those who work with his company. “When I bring in youngsters off the deejay circuit, I know they have the talent, but they have to learn how we do things here. I try to explain that when we are finished training you, you can go play anywhere in the world, you are not just a one-sided deejay. If you want to be one of us, you got to learn all kinds of music, reggae, back-intime, whatever.” Habib also notes that what the industry calls “imaging” - clever sounds bites, jingles, mock endorsements - are key to SLAM’s popularity. “They make your radio station sound more professional.” The imaging includes mock endorsements, which cleverly make famous people, including President Obama, sound as if they are directly plugging SLAM. “You can’t just play music. there are so many other things involved.” But he says he thinks radio will pick up during the recession, because “when people have a limited budget to advertise and they realise that for fifty percent less they can get much more exposure on radio than on TV or in the print media, what makes more sense? You tell me.” •
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InBusiness first person
NEW MAN IN POWER
Barbados Light & Power’s new managing director talks about renewable energy and the company’s midterm plans to reduce its dependency on oil, and defends the rate hike it received in 2010 from the FTC. By Patrick Hoyos
ark King, who became CEO of Barbados Light & Power Co. Ltd. on Nov. 1, 2011, held a meet-the-press breakfast session in mid-December, in which he summarised the company’s progress in developing alternative sources of energy to reduce its current total dependence on oil for electricity production. According to its annual report for 2010 (yearend Dec. 31), Light & Power Holdings Inc. (LPH) made a net profit of Bds$45 million com- an increase in the “basic rates for electricpared to $27 million for the previous year. ity” granted by the Fair Trading Commis$7.5 million of this was the net gain from sion, which came into effect on March 1, the sale of LPH’s 25% interest in Caribbe- 2010. After purchasing Leucadia’s 38% an Fibre Holdings, which LPH’s previous stake in LPH in early 2010, Emera went owners, Leucadia National Corporation, on to make an offer towards the end of had purchased in the late 1990s and which that year for all the remaining shares and owned TeleBarbados, a local telecom, and currently holds 80% of LPH, with the NaAtlantic Crossing, which operates a fibre tional Insurance Board holding 13% and optic cable running from Barbados to St. the remaining seven percent held by 1,600 other shareholders. Croix. Speaking at his introductory press Setting aside the one-off revenue from the sale would put the net profit of the conference, held in mid-December, Mr. utility company at around eight million King spoke about some of the options the over the previous year. The additional net company was considering, and in some profit was attributed by LPH chairman instances had begun to bring on stream. Wayne Crawley to a close to one percent The following excerpts are from the press increase in electricity sales for a total of conference. nearly a million kilowatt hours, as well as
Q: How do you see your major priorities as CEO? Under my leadership I propose to tackle as high priority the question of the reduction in the cost of generation and the consequential reduction in the cost of electricity to our customers going forward. We will also be looking at the introduction of renewable energy sources. Everybody has been talking about this as a priority for the country - and for the world, by extension - because of the volatility and the finite nature of oil as a source of energy. Everybody is aware that we rely entirely on oil for the generation of electricity in Barbados, and the cost of oil worldwide continues to rise and settling at numbers that, generally speaking, are unsustainable in the long term. So it is incumbent on us InBusinessJanuary2012•13
to look for alternative sources of energy and is an urgent need to replace existing capacthis is an area the organisation has been ity (some of which) has been installed since been putting a lot of emphasis on. 1973. If we are to be able to retain the level of reliability that this country has become Q: Has BL&P made any new invest- accustomed to and takes for granted, we ments in plant since it got a ten percent cannot do it on a shoestring. increase in rates in early 2010, or was I’ll give you an example: The last large that not was agreed to at the Fair Trading generating capacity we installed was a lowCommission? speed diesel plant at Spring Garden. Each A: We have not done any new investment one of those units cost about $70 million since the rate increase came into effect. then, and we installed two of them. One of them now costs about $100 million inQ: But did you promise to? stalled. They are the most efficient forms of A: there is a requirement for us to look at generation we can purchase going forward. new investments and we have started along And if we look to the facility of making sure that road. But that was not the only reason that we can burn both fossil fuel oil as well why we had indicated to the Fair Trading as natural gas it is likely that we would be Commission why we needed a rate review. installing equipment of this nature but you There were other areas to be addressed, one would have to have it specially configured so being cross-subsidies where, in essence, the that you could burn both natural gas and the domestic customers were being subsidised oil, and that would be even more expensive. to a large extent by the commercial and industrial customers. So there was a need for us to address that issue because it was impacting significantly on the productive sectors of the country. There was a definite need for us to rebalance those rates. Another issue was what it cost us to supply a domestic customer vs. a commercial customer - there was distortion because prior to 2009 the last time the rate adjusted was 1983.
I think it is important for people to realise that the adoption of new energy sources takes time. There’s no magic bullet.
Q: How do you justify a rate increase on consumers in tough economic times when the company itself is showing high profitability? A: What we are given (by the FTC) is a rate of return and that rate of return, based on the last adjustment, was ten percent. right now the company is not anywhere near that ten percent, just as a matter of interest. What we have observed in 2011 is a significant reduction in our sales in terms of the number of kilowatt hours that we are selling. Barbados Light & Power is a very capital-intensive business. We have close on $600 million worth of assets installed. We have an obligation to serve this country with electricity. there isn’t anywhere on the island of Barbados where you can build a house or establish anything and we will say, “We can’t get electricity to you.” These are services that are provided by the company and it doesn’t come cheap. One has to recognise that the company has to remain viable, that we need to demonstrate to our shareholders and potential investors that we are able to service any loans that we will have going forward. Quite apart from the proposed new installation of generation (plant), there
But this is the level of service our customers require, so we have to be able to offer it. Q: What is the timeline for incorporating natural gas into BL&P’s energy mix? A: Government has taken the lead on the initiative to import natural gas into Barbados and we are a member of the committee. At the end of the day, BL&P will utilise over 90 percent of any natural gas imported, for the generation of electricity. There are a lot of inter-governmental agreements that have to be signed and (also) between the individual governments and the party that is selling the natural gas, and the party that’s transporting it. And there are number of studies that have to be done to verify the technical feasibility of the project, so all in all, the earliest I would think (when everything is done) would be 2015 or thereabouts before you would probably be seeing natural gas coming to Barbados. (When natural gas comes on stream) the numbers that are on the table suggest that we should see an overall reduction in the cost in electricity. There are no quick fixes, there is nothing that we can do to change
the cost of electricity in a month or six months. These are long-term processes. Mr. King said that his strategy of moving BL&P away from total dependence on fossil fuels would find support from the company’s majority owner, Emera Inc. of Canada. Emera has a lot of expertise in that area. They are one of only three companies in the world which have tidal generators - which you put in the sea and use the tide to generate electricity - so they are at the forefront and part of their overall strategy is move electricity away from traditional fossil fuel generation. Q: In his August budget finance Minister Chris Sinckler said it was government’s policy to have legislation passed to allow residential customer using photovoltaic systems to create electricity to sell it to BL&P via the national grid. How involved is BL&P in making this become reality? A: There are two initiatives, a renewable energy policy and an energy efficiency policy, and these derived from a project started under the auspices of the Inter-American Development Bank a few years ago. The overarching framework was called “A Sustainable Energy Framework for Barbados.” these two policies have been approved by Cabinet and the prime minister indicated recently that his government was moving to put this legislation in place by the first quarter of 2012. We have always fully supported the move to sustainable energy. We have been working with various entities to prepare ourselves for the move to alternative sources of energy. Let me give you a couple of examples: Everybody knows about the Lamberts Wind Farm. We’ve been working with that for a number of years and we’ve now got permission from the government to proceed with the project but we are currently speaking with the landowners to finally establish an arrangement for the purchase of the land for the installation of the wind turbines. The second large initiative is the cane industry restructuring project (at Andrews Factory). Part of the exercise there is to utilise bagasse from the cane industry to generate electricity. This project has been on the table for a while and it just been re-invigorated. Right now, it is believed that up to 13 megawatts of energy could be generated from the bagasse of a certain period of time during the year, depending on how the crop
goes, but then it would have to be supplemented at other times of the year with other sources of biomass. Our peak is about 160 megawatts. Q: In Barbados’ case, which is better as an alternative source of energy: wind or bagasse? There is a difference between energy generated by wind and energy generated by bagasse (the cane residue after extraction of the juice) or biomass (organic matter used as fuel to create electricity in a power station). The wind is intermittent - when the wind blows you get electricity, and vice versa. The numbers indicate that wind is economically viable for Barbados, but the challenge is land space. The actual turbine does not take up a lot of land - a ten squaremetre platform is really all that you would need to put up a one megawatt wind turbine - but the distance stipulated from residences is quite significant, so even though the turbine doesn’t take up a lot of space, you have to build it way, way out from houses. So that’s one of the challenges, but the other is that the (amount of electricity generated) is very dependent on wind speed. The energy changes by the cube of the wind speed. So suppose the wind is blowing and you’re generating 16 megawatts, if the wind speed just drops by half your electricity output will drop to just two megawatts, that is, by a factor of eight. That’s the physics of wind energy, but a lot of people don’t recognise this. So you have to have back-up generation, which will come from the utility. Biomass or bagasse is not an intermittent source, once you feed it into the generator it just keeps running, but Barbados would probably have to import biomass to keep the plant going year-round. I know the government has talked about a waste-to-energy plant, and that is also an initiative that we have worked with government on.We have indicated that we are willing to purchase that energy (produced in such a plant.) The downside to waste-toenergy is that it is extremely expensive. Q: Buying solar energy produced by consumers on their rooftops: Is that system already set up? A: As part of our recommendation to the Fair Trading Commission for the rate review in 2009 we indicated that we wanted to be supportive of renewable energy in the form of actually purchasing electricity from customers, and coming out of that rate exercise, the FTC gave us permission to es-
BL&P’s new Chief Operating Officer Stephen “Bob” Worme and new Corporate Communications Co-ordinator Jackie Marshall-Clarke. (Photo by INBusiness Magazine)
tablish a pilot programme for two years. We essentially say to customers, if you’ve put a PV (photo-voltaic) system on your property, and we determine what the maximum size is and so on, we will purchase that energy, and we’ve given them options as to how to connect to the grid. That project has been in place now for about a year and a half. We indicated at that time that we could handle up to 200 houses or 1.6 megawatts of capacity, but the uptake has been a little bit slow. All of the information is on our website in terms of what you can do and how to do it. We are going to go to the FTC to look at the outcome of the pilot project and to determine where we will go from there. As part of the pilot project we have given the customer two options, one, where they can sell it all to us and we credit off the difference in terms of their bill, or they can connect it internally and then sell us the the excess. Q: Isn’t it more likely that customers would want to use their own electricity and then store it for a few hours after dark, and only purchase from BL&P when their own electricity is on the wane? A: Well, it depends on where the cost of energy is, and when you do the numbers it is probably more beneficial to the customer right now - oil prices being where they are - to sell it to us and then buy it back. It is also advantageous to the customer because (we are using it) to offset our peak demand,
because peak-generating electricity is more expensive than baseload. We have two peaks on our system, one occurs around 1 p.m. and the other around 7 p.m. The peaking plant you start relatively easily with the push of a button and then you shut it down, because peaks don’t last forever, and that tends to be a premium plant, which will not normally burn the cheapest fuel. Q: How long do you think it will take for BLP to significantly reduce its total dependence on fossil fuels to generate electricity? This is not something that will happen overnight. I think it is important for people to realise that the adoption of new energy sources takes time. There’s no magic bullet. It will take us a while to get off of oil and to get on to these alternative sources, and there will likely be a need for a bridging source between where we’re at now where we’re totally dependent on oil and where we want to be with the introduction of sustainable and alternative energy sources. We see that intermediate step to be natural gas. It is the cleanest of the fossil fuels available, and cheaper than oil, and using it via long-term contracts can result in more price stability. So there advantages to using natural gas as a sort of interim measure between using fossil fuel and getting to the point where the majority of your energy source is a sustainable or renewable one. • InBusinessJanuary2012•15
The Nation Publishing Co. Ltd.’s editor-inchief, Kaymar Jordan, recalls some of the events and experiences that shaped her skills and approach to her profession.
The making of an editor
Editor-in-Chief of the Nation Publishing Co. Ltd., Kaymar Jordan. Photo by Randy Phillips
rom the time she was a teenager, there seemed to be a soundtrack playing in Kaymar Jordan’s head. It was not a song, but a newscast, and she tried to put it on tape, making up what she now describes with a laugh as “my pretend news,” which, for some unknown reason, was always datelined “Antigua” and began with the words “Prime Minister Lester Bird ...”
on the print side, the rhythms and cadence of the spoken word continued to interest her, causing her to spend lunch hours and even time after work in the radio studios of her employer, trying to assimilate the emotion, authority and sometimes drama of the professional news broadcast. It did not come naturally to her, and she had to keep trying to improve. But it was that unending drive for self-improvement, along with a passion for the news business, that propelled Kaymar Jordan to become a multi-skilled reporter at a time when walls of tradition existed between the three sectors of journalism. Over the years, her drive would make hers one of the most recThat “soundtrack” must have stayed in Kaymar Jordan’s sub- ognised voices, faces and names in the Caribbean. sconscious, for although she entered the journalism profession On September 1, 2010, Ms. Jordan, formerly the News & Cur-
Above left: Ms. Jordan on the set of PrimeTime Caribbean. Right: Reporting for CMC from Haiti, January 2010. Far right:A moment with her late father. rent Affairs Director with the Caribbean Media Corporation, took up the post of Editor-in-Chief of the Nation Publishing Co. Ltd., with the responsibility for an editorial staff of over 100 people and for retaining the market dominance of the country’s leading daily newspaper and most visited local news website. Just over a year after taking up her new job, Ms. Jordan says she is “still excited every day” about going to work. The most direct impact of the job on her as a journalist is that she can’t go out and get as many stories herself as she had done in the past. ‘It’s difficult to report directly now,” she says, as “media, especially a newspaper, is a team effort.” To lead that team, Kaymar Jordan can draw on nearly two decades of experience in print and broadcast journalism, from teenage recruit to seasoned professional. Early adventures. Ms. Jordan’s willingness to learn both print and radio skills at the same time led her to be chosen to cover the Food & Agriculture Organisation’s conference in Rome, when she was still not past the age of 20. CANA realised they didn’t have to send two people to cover the event. When she was told she would be heading to Rome, she said “sure” immediately. “That was my attitude from the start. I used to say, ‘When I come in, they could tell me to go and skip ropes from the time I’m there to when I leave. I never watched the clock and I never said ‘It can’t happen.’ I was excited about this industry from the start.” Her mother had nightmares about her young daughter heading off so far from the home fires of Castle, St. Peter, but Ms. Jordan says she took her father’s attitude to it. “He was a go-getter and he believed you can conquer the world. He instilled that in me from early.” Rising in the ranks: During her long career with the regional news agency, Ms. Jordan
left and returned not once, but twice. The first time was in 2000, when CANA, shortly after merging with the Caribbean Broadcasting Union to form the Caribbean Media Corporation, shut down operations for a period after running into what she described as “serious financial trouble.” The merger had not gone “according to plan,” she says, and “we kind of went belly-up.” After a short stint on, ironically, the Nation’s Business Desk, Ms. Jordan was invited to rejoin the CMC, as the agency’s wire service was being restarted with only two fulltime editors - herself on news and Lance Whittaker on sports. “Those were the difficult years,” she recalls, “and what we did then was try to build back the service, calling on some traditional stringers in the field and bringing in some new ones.” By May 2001 a limited print service was restarted. The TV service was also restarted with one person, and although neither editor felt television was their ‘thing’, she says, “We would go across and read the news.” They worked out of a room downstairs at the old CANA building on Beckles Road, St. Michael, with General Manager Gary Allen and two accounting staffers upstairs. In addition to less than a dozen regular stringers, there were a few others in the smaller islands ready to report if a big news story broke, so “it was really a skeleton staff,” she recalled. Ms. Jordan and Mr. Whittaker also did a lot more of their own reporting, because “by then I had my own string of contacts - prime ministers, business leaders, etc. We generated a lot of the content and edited all of it.” Working late was a regular part of the job. As the market’s confidence in CMC’s services began to be restored, the small staff was able to grow and also expand its product offerings, including a television news show. Ms. Jordan’s confidence as a TV news personality was also growing, and it would make her a formidable presence on air, both
in presenting the news and in her direct, straight-to-the-point interviews with the region’s political and business leaders. Academic advancement: Along with her rise in the ranks of the news business, Ms. Jordan was determined to upgrade her academic qualifications. In the late nineties she had begun studying part-time for a B.Sc. degree in management at the UWI Cave Hill campus, and graduated in 2001. However, she was determined to get a master’s degree as she felt it would complement her transition to a more supervisory role at CMC. Shortly after the Barbados’ general elections of 2003, Ms. Jordan was accepted by City University in London to do a master’s degree in communications policy studies. She handed in her resignation, but CMC management said they would be interested in offering her a job on her return. When she did get back the following year, she learned her post had not been filled and that she was being offered the job of news director, a step up from news co-ordinator, to reflect her new academic qualifications. A boom, then a bust. “I came back very excited, to be honest, about expanding the newsroom and its products,” Ms. Jordan recalled. The launch of Caribvision, CMC’s new satellite television channel, was seen as the way to reach Caribbean people not only within the region but in the U.S. and Canada through their cable service providers. Hopes ran high that the new channel would usher in an era of financial success for the CMC. However, despite its popularity in the region, where it was seen in nearly two dozen countries, as well as in the diaspora, Caribvision was unable to get the amount of advertising revenue needed to sustain its journalistic component, and its flagship news show, PrimeTime Caribbean, the channel’s late night news and sports broadcast, was InBusinessJanuary2012•17
first cut back from one hour to a half-hour and then cancelled after a few years, and Caribvision continued without it. The ensuing budget cutbacks made 2008 a very difficult year, said Ms. Jordan. “That was when major staff cuts came, and in one hour, everything that you had worked on between 2004 and 2008, four years, just went ‘whoosh!’” That fateful hour came just a few days after a scenario to make budget cuts had been worked out. “I had to think on the spot. I sat in the meeting and tears came to my eyes, because I had to go out and speak to my staff, whom I had told 24 hours before, ‘You all don’t have very much to worry about, we’re going to be OK, we just have to tighten up.’ But I had to push the tears back and go out there and say to them what was the precise case,” Ms. Jordan said. Decisions had to be made almost instantly that would allow the agency to operate the next day under a limited budget and still deliver the wire service. “In a sense, that continued to be my fight even to the point of leaving to come to the Nation,” she noted. In 2009 Ms. Jordan faced the greatest loss in her personal life when her father, with whom she shared a close relationship, died of cancer at the age of 76. “It was the biggest loss of my life, the most life-changing event, the single most impacting thing that’s happened to me in my life,” she says. New challenges. As editor-in-chief of the Nation, Ms. Jordan chairs the editors’ meeting every day to keep abreast of the major news stories coming in the next day’s edition. Is there more political pressure in her new job compared to working for regional media organisation? Yes, she says, pointing out that “I really try to led by journalistic judgement but the society itself is very much defined along political lines.” Inevitably, she has already been accused of belonging to both major political parties, while efforts to improve the paper editorially have also been judged by some along those lines. “If you don’t have a sense of humour or are thin-skinned you would die!” she laughs, adding “I’ve never received so many legal letters in all of my life! Perhaps people are testing the waters, not knowing that I am one who is not very timid. I try to be
“If you don’t have a sense of humour or are thin-skinned you would die! Perhaps people are testing the waters, not knowing that I am one who is not very timid. I try to be fair, but I’m not timid at all.”
fair, but I’m not timid at all.” She says the Nation has a good structure for dealing with such correspondence, but it can be time consuming. “In the majority of cases, just to satisfy our legal team, we may have to supply supporting documents as well, so it does take up a lot of time.” Ms. Jordan says that she is trying to put her “unusual job” on a more normal schedule, as it is easy to be at work from “nine in the morning to midnight. That becomes
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the norm without you even noticing it.” Since her arrival the newspaper has undergone a changeover in the computer publishing system, a shifting of some personnel to different areas, and has had to cover major national events like the death of a prime minister and the subsequent by-election. With newspapers dependent on advertising for revenue, Ms. Jordan says that some of the toughest decisions she has had to make as editor-in-chief relate to “letting advertisers have their say in the paper, but realising that the editorial content is what is critical to the survival of this institution.” She agrees that it’s a balancing act “but there are a number of principled positions you have to take in the interest of the public and the paper’s own sustainability and survival.” Trying to refresh the look and feel of the Nation’s editions is also a priority, she says. While the Nation is not going to depart from the things that have worked for it in the past, says Ms. Jordan, “the management and the editorial team think that the time has come for a refreshing of the look of the newspaper, and we’re a trying to make some changes with a view to international standards as well.” That is why, she notes, the editorial team is also making “a big thrust” in the paper’s online presence. For while it is not yet a big revenue earner, “we believe we have to stay in the game while not killing the goose that lays the golden egg, which for us is still the newspaper.” “I think the message is getting out that the question we are always asking is ‘What is the truth here?’ It is what I ask my editors every day. I think the newsroom looks to me for that, and that is what I try to project.” •
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
“oranges” shows true bajan talent by Amanda Cummins
he Truth About Oranges and Other Works: A Winning Words Collection Anthology is a rare collection of work from various Barbadian writers spanning five years of the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) Literary Arts Competition. Featuring well-known and highly-regarded writers such as Robert Sandiford, Mark Jason Welch, Deanne Kennedy, and Adrian Callender, Oranges offers an intimate, introspective and honest glimpse into the heart of Barbadian society. The collection, comprised of Silver and Gold award-winning pieces from 2006-2010, explores clear themes relating to the Bajan dynamic, such as identity, children’s issues, HIV/AIDS, heritage and the preservation of culture. This, above all, makes the book intriguing, because it was not a group effort, but rather individual works entered into NIFCA. It is clear that these issues are foremost in the writing community. Several pieces were the winners of special prizes, such as the UNICEF award for a work which examines child and family related issues, the HIV/AIDS Award for a piece that deals with the disease as a theme, and the Barbados Manufacturers’ Award for a piece which closely examines some salient aspect of Bajan culture and heritage.
The book is a collection of insightful, salient work, that will inspire thought, promote creativity, and provoke action.
and patriotism in the Bajan reader for his home. Something that stands out is that in collections such as these, oftentimes there will be at least a few pieces on the more comical side. However, in this anthology, while there are some works which employ the use of dialect and humour as a poetic device, none of them cover a lighthearted theme. Take, for instance, “Consequences” by Gregory Fitt, or “CouCou Chronicles” by Elizabeth Best. The former follows the plight of a woman whose grandson is involved with illegal drugs, and the latter details a daughter’s special relationship with her father, expressed through her weekend ritual of making him cou-cou. One of the few short stories, “Saran’s Dollhouse” by Shakira Bourne, is the story of a pre-teen girl whose mother and father have separated, and she uses her dolls to live her fantasies of a perfect family. This piece won a silver medal and the UNICEF Award for aptly highlighting child-related themes relating to split families. That piece is one of my absolute favourites in the collection. Told in dialect through the eyes of the child, it is intuitive, honest and wholly believable. That said this anthology is not all doom and gloom. The role of the artist is to hold up a mirror to society and create work based on what they see, and the book is a collection of insightful, salient work, that will inspire thought, promote creativity, and provoke action. Because it is drawn from outstanding work in a developmental competition, it cannot boast perfect work. Editors may read this anthology and see a few spots where, were it the work of a professional writer, they would recommend revision, rewriting and reworking. However, any shortcomings in the writing are made up for by the engaging nature of the work in the book. Typos and a few clumsy verses of poetry do not detract from the fact that this is an excellent, lasting record of the work of talented Bajan writers. The Truth About Oranges and Other Works: A Winning Words Anthology is available from the National Cultural Foundation for Bds$35.
The caliber of the writers included in this anthology should not go unnoted. Of those mentioned, Lewis is a well-respected writer and actor, and winner of several medals at NIFCA, most recently two Gold medals in 2011. Welch is winner of the Prime Minister’s Scholarship in 2002, multiple Gold medals and special awards. Kennedy and Callender are both stalwarts in the writing community and multiple awardwinners. These writers are just a handful of the writers featured in this collection. The title poem, The Truth About Oranges, by Welch, tells the story of a young boy who stops to buy oranges and is suddenly confronted with all that his country is, and is forced to reckon his own identity through the eyes of the old orange vendor. This Kamau Brathwaite Award-winning piece sets the tone for a deeply, almost uncomfortably critical examination of our society • Amanda Cummins edited The Truth About Oranges, through the words of prominent writers; an examinawhile employed with the National Cultural Foundation in tion which on one hand produces a despair for the state 2011. The book is available from the NCF, tel. 424-0909. of some things, but also stirs a strong sense of pride
20 20 InBusiness•January2012 InBusiness•January2012
aul Altman, whose sheer tenacity ensured that Barbados’ most advanced shopping and leisure centre became a reality, is looking calm and confident as he sips a smoothie concocted for him by the bartender at the new Caribbean Courtyard on its south side. It is the week before Christmas, and Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, which had a “soft” opening for Christmas 2010, continued to add to its list of international brand name retailers, welcoming in early December the opening of the Louis Vuitton store. But over the nearly four years since its official launch at the end of February 2008 under a large tent in the middle of the cleared site that would become 85,000 square feet of luxury shopping, dining and recreation at Holetown, life has not always been easy for Limegrove’s leading lights, especially Mr. Altman. Things came to a head when the bankers cut off funding, considering the project too risky to proceed with. The financial setback was almost too much to bear but Mr. Altman was able to regroup and find new private investors to see the project through. Today Limegrove’s largest shareholder after Mr. Altman is Jacob Hassid, the CEO of Diamonds International in Barbados; Ralph “Bizzy” Williams of Williams Industries Inc; British investor Peter Goldstein; and a consortium headed by business executive Tony King. “Limegrove is 95% completed and 95% tenanted,” say Mr. Altman, “and now has the critical mass so that the shopping and lifestyle centre does not seem like it is under construction, a complaint made by customers over the first year.” A large hoarding at the southern side of the Caribbean Courtyard, where Louis Vuitton is located, shields the remaining two buildings still under construction. “The walkway will go all the way round to link this courtyard (to a building which) will house the Burberry store and TD (Toronto Dominion) Bank,” says Mr. Altman. I asked Mr. Altman to talk about the major challenges, the ups and downs, encountered on a project of such scale and ambition. “The hardest part was to get them here,” he says, referring to the luxury brand companies whose names read like a who’s who of high-end shopping. (According to Limegrove’s website, “International brands present
Limegrove: zen and the genius of PAUL ALTMAN
and scheduled for opening at Limegrove include Agent Provocateur, A|X Armani Exchange, Audemars Piguet, Breitling, Cartier, Chopard, Hallmark, Louis Vuitton, M.A.C, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and Vilebrequin. A great number of successful Barbadian brands also feature prominently: Altman Real Estate, Barbados National Bank, Foster & Ince Cruiseworld, Kartushe, OPA! and Pure Source Barbados, to name a few”.) The effort took four years. However, Mr. Altman says the international stores said they had all surpassed their sales projections for the first year of business despite the economic downturn, but he added that there were some smaller stores which were not doing as well as they had expected. He is hoping that things will improve for them as Limegrove had finally gotten past the “build-up process,” and was now getting the “foot-flow coming through here. That is what it’s all about.” I suggested to Mr. Altman that he had a more serene look about him than I had seen previously. “The answer to that is, there’s no question that we’ve done everything we could. Josée Atkinson, Limegrove’s project coordinator, has put mind and soul and part of her into this thing, working beyond anyone’s capacity. And we pushed together step by step, with a great team of people, which we assembled, and we had that leadership and commitment. We were not going to deterred by as few mishaps along the way.” Paul said the mishaps had to do with funding and the “negativity that surrounds
a project like this. I’ve been around a number of projects - this is not my first - so the negativity has always been there.” And while he says there are indeed challenges ahead and debt to repay, “We certainly are miles ahead of where we were a year or even six months ago. People are realising that this is a full project that is now starting to fit together, all the pieces are coming together.” Those pieces include the opening of the 175-seat cinema at Limegrove. “It is stateof-the art: You can sit in your seat and press a button and someone will come and take your order and bring food to your seat. It is the most luxurious cinema in this part of the world.” A second cinema, with 150 seats has also opened. “We went to a great extent to create a signature-quality establishment,” he says, noting that the idea for Limegrove did not emerge overnight. As a member of the board of directors of Barbados Shipping & Trading Co. Ltd., Mr. Altman dealt with the Pierhead project for 12 years. An ambitious scheme to turn large tracts of warehousing and car park space into a luxury development with a marina on the south side of the Bridgetown Careenage, the project never got off the ground in the end, but Mr. Altman, already an experienced real estate developer, spent a lot of time “assembling ideas and the know-how for a major mixed-use project,” some of which would eventually find a creative outlet in Limegrove.
He also repeats the point that he made speaking to the press at the launch of Limegrove in 2008, that while Barbados had many different types of ‘themed’ developments based around polo, golf, tennis and yachting, it did not have a luxury shopping and lifestyle centre. “You go to St. Barts, which is the signature high-end destination in the Caribbean, and they have all of these names there, although not as big or as nice as this. Destinations that cater to that highend still see (the value of luxury) shopping and the experience of having an environment where people can go sit at a bar or see a movie.” But he says, it is not just for visitors. “It is meant for everyone, and that is the key to it. You know, we’ve seen more Barbadians going through the door of Louis Vuitton than we have seen visitors so far. Barbadians are proud to know that the biggest retailers in the world have opened here.” I asked Mr. Altman how he was able to attract the big names which had never come to Barbados before. “Well, we started off by talking to people who have been in this business successfully for many years. I went to the Urban Land Institute (ULI) conference, where all of these people meet - managers of the biggest retailers in the world - and I asked them, ‘What is the secret to making these things happen?’ You get a little information here and there. Then we brought in a retail specialist from Atlanta who has done these projects, and we said, ‘How do you get them in, what is the bait that you use?’ “Of course, Barbados is a bait. The west coast is a bait. (A prime) location on the west coast is another bait. But it isn’t as simple as that. “They’re not going to come in if you build a strip mall, that is, repetitive shop fronts all in a line. So you put the bait out. You say ‘We are going to design something that is so enticing that when they see it and they think of something like this coming to Barbados, we can get their attention.’ The first thing is to get their attention. (Then we tell them that) we are going to do InBusinessJanuary2012•21
ence a place, and often it’s the subtle things that have the most impact. For instance, Louis Vuitton has introduced some Barbadian furniture as part of its interior design. Adds Mr. Altman: “There’s a special old Barbados map on the wall, and you know who bought that map? The CEO of Louis Vuitton, Yves Carcelle. He look around (Limegrove’s environs) and loved the church across the street, the atmosphere, the feeling.” Apart from the Burberry building, there is still the Altman building to be completed, both at the southern end of the site. The latter’s purpose is still evolving, with current plans being to make it a conference centre with a penthouse at the top. “That is the one we are keeping, as they say, in the back pocket, because as you go through a project like this you always have to have something that is held back,” notes Mr. Altman. However, he adds, “People and ideas emerge seemingly from out of nowhere - the ‘surprise element” of such projects - so the current purpose of the Altman building may give way to another as time goes by.”
something in Barbados that is world class and that will fit all of your requirements in terms of ceiling heights, shop fronts, visibility, added experience. You take that and put a little booklet together, and then you go and visit them, you knock on their door. They throw you out and you come back again and you say, ‘Look, I’ve changed it now.’ I visited people in New York, Paris, London. “Once you get past one and you show them, they do their checking up on you and think, ‘Well, maybe this fellow can pull it off.’ Then they say, ‘We’re interested, keep us informed,’ but they don’t give you the money right up front. “And you have to take a huge risk, and you go ahead and say ‘We’re going to take the next step. The mere fact that they’re interested, we’re going to go with them.’ And that’s how you go. It’s a big risk.”
s is normal in projects of this type, Mr. Altman says, the developers built the buildings, providing the tenants with ‘shell and core’, which is just the structure with nothing on the inside. But, he adds, “In many cases they have spent more to fit out, finish and decorate their building than we spent to put it up. So that’s a commitment that you can’t measure.” He estimates that the project has so far cost the developers about Bds$100 million, with the retailers spending that much again to outfit the interiors of their buildings. Mr. Altman says the major retailers accepted the design shown to them for their buildings, with a few requesting only slight variations. “We worked with an architect in Boston who did the preliminary layout, and then we went to Gillespie & Steel in Barbados where we worked with Doug Luke, who has been an excellent strength to this project.” Mr. Altman says he learned a lot about the “rhythm of merchandising and retailing,” and there was a lot of fine tuning and re-working of the overall layout “until it kind of - the best way I can describe it - revealed itself naturally. We helped to create a rhythm ourselves, because I said ‘I don’t want something with the shopping mall atmosphere.’ So the rhythm that we put in place is that we have a modern building and courtyard to the north, where we have our Zen water feature. Then we have the more traditional courtyard in the middle, the Palm Courtyard - no food or drink - then to the south we have a Caribbean 22 InBusiness•January2012
Limegrove Lifestyle Centre’s Project Coordinator Josée Atkinson with Paul Altman. Top and below: Elegant storefronts of two of the world’s luxury retailers at the centre.(Photos by INBusiness Magazine)
courtyard.” Mr. Altman says that working with museum experts to design both the Nidhe Israel and Arlington House museums taught him a lot about about how people experi-
ouis Vuitton opened in early December 2011 and the Burberry is expected to follow suit in December 2012, on the second anniversary of Limegrove’s soft opening. Ironically, Mr. Altman says he feels somewhat “intimidated” when he walks into Louis Vuitton, because “it is over the top. We always believe that people overseas can afford more than we can, that there are richer people overseas. But Barbados is in my head the centre of the world for wealth in terms of visitors. I know who comes here.” He notes that “Barbadians from all over this island, when they walk in here, they’re proud of it, and they should be. And we have said from day one it is here for Barbadians to enjoy. The cinema is going to demonstrate that again - my guess is that 90% of the people in the cinema are going to be Barbadians. You don’t have to be wealthy to come to Limegrove. It’s the aspirational point-of-view. Everyone is aspirational.” He feels strongly that Limegrove Lifestyle Centre “also needs to be recognised for what it contributes to the branding of Barbados. We have over two dozen brand name retailers here who are bringing brand recognition to Barbados at the highest level.” •
HERITAGE BLDG. tower BLDG. (with North Courtyrd)
LIMEGROVE CINEMAS BNB BLDG. (partly hidden)
PALM COURTYARD ralph lauren BLDG. CARTIER BLDG.
ALTMAN BLDG. (Under Construction) BURBERRY BLDG. (Under Construction)
LOUIS VITTON BLDG.
Top: Architect’s illustration of Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, with the names of the main buildings shown. Middle photo: Featured chefs of the Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival at the Opening Act, held at Limegrove on November 18, 2011. Above left: Local Designer Toni Thorne (at left) visits Newbury Street Shoe Boutique with friends in August 2011. Above, centre: Widow of the late prime minister David Thompson and MP for St. John Mara Thompson chats with former MP Rommel Marshall at Limegrove’s Bubbly and Beer event, held in August 26, 2011. Above, right: Limegrove’s North Courtyard with water wall feature. (Graphic and photos courtesy Altman Real Estate.)
InBusiness in memoriam
Stuart strove to “do the impossible” (The following is an excerpt from the tribute read by Trevor de Silvia at his brother’s funeral service, held at St. Dominic’s Church on October xxx, 2011.)
tuart was the third of five sons born to Gloria and the late Keith de Silvia. His life was inextricably linked to our older beloved late brother, Paul, having been born on the same date exactly one year apart, having gone to the same schools during their youth, having shared a livelihood in the printing industry and, unfortunately, both suffering paralysis before succumbing to cancer within 3 years of each other. On a professional basis, Stuart boldly strode where none others had before him when he founded Pronto Marketing & Printing Brokers in 1987, along with his then partner, Charles Cox, at a time when the concept of printing brokerage was an unknown and opposition to these “upstarts” was rife at the time. He eventually went on to take full control of Pronto and made it into a highly successful business, with the much appreciated efforts of his trusted General Manager, Donna Ward and his two longest serving employees, Brian Rollock and Jackie Cummings. It could be truly said of my brother that he “lived to work” as opposed to the other way around, as was evident by his work ethic of eighteen hour work days and rarely taking a proper vacation over the last quarter of a century. He provided a livelihood for as many as fourteen colleagues during times of good and bad and, as any entrepreneur here today would attest, the path to success is not for the swift or faint of heart but for those who get out into the trenches and slog and he established a reputation for service excellence long before anyone ever came up with concepts such as the National Initiative for Service Excellence. This devotion to service excellence was born on one night more than 25 years ago when Stuart and I and our families were vacationing in Canada and we saw a service vehicle with a slogan on it and it read: “We do the impossible! The miraculous, we leave 24 InBusiness•January2012
Stuart de Silvia
17th April 1959 - 15th November 2011 to God”. We commented on what a brilliant slogan it was for a service company and he immediately adopted this concept in both his personal and professional life and he did, on a regular basis, “do the impossible” – a fact to which many of his clients would attest, by always meeting his deadlines and ensuring that he supplied a personalized service and a “world class” product. And the number of people here today is a further testament to how highly he was regarded in the industry and by his friends.
n a personal level, I was privileged to share 50 years with him and my other brothers. Our parents raised us to believe that “brothers come before friends” and that’s how we all lived our lives. As kids, we all ran our beloved mother ragged during the day and then our poor father would get an earful when he came home as to just what mischief we had been up to whilst he was at work. As you can imagine, a household of five boys, all highly competitive in nature, is a recipe for trouble and we enjoyed every minute of it and have fond and vivid memories of our childhood. The one consolation for this overworked woman was that she could always depend on Stuart to willingly help her in doing things when the rest of us would find every
excuse in the book not to, such was the generous nature of Stuart the boy and Stuart, the man. We all attended the same schools in the various countries in which our father worked. We all got married and started our own families early in life and have had a lifetime of sharing each other’s company on weekends and seeing our children grow up together and become adults, all of them contributing to society in their own right. His eldest son, Brett, often reminisces of the many quality weekends when his dad, brother, cousins and uncles had immense fun playing cricket and football in my back yard until we were forced to take our game to the beach due to the onerous expense of constantly having to replace broken window panes due to Stuart’s predilection to strike any kind of ball extremely hard as opposed to with finesse. During his last month with us when he was, for the most part paralyzed and totally dependent on others, one or another member of our family had the privilege of spending every waking and sleeping hour with him in hospital and we all shared the most wonderful and touching farewell with him and he, with all of us, with him expressing his everlasting love of his wife and lifetime partner, Mandy, whose entry into the room would always induce a bright smile from him even when in the extreme pain which he bore stoically, and pride in his loving and wonderful children, Stacey, Brett, Scott & Sophie and his five grandchildren who were the “apples of his eye”, the most recent of which was born mere days before his death. His faith was extremely strong throughout his ordeal and not once did he ever complain about his lot in life but, rather, spent his last days reassuring everyone that he was at peace and expressed concern for them. Indeed, his mantra in his final days to his family, doctors, nurses, friends and visitors was “No worries, no fears and looking forward to meeting Jesus and seeing my beloved father and brother” and our entire family takes solace in the fact that he and they are, once again, enjoying each other’s company in paradise.•
Discover whatâ€™s possible *Trademark of The Bank of Nova Scotia, used under licence (where applicable).
INBusiness Magazine focusses on achievers - business executives, entrepreneurs and professionals based in Barbados whose life and work exper...
Published on Jul 6, 2012
INBusiness Magazine focusses on achievers - business executives, entrepreneurs and professionals based in Barbados whose life and work exper...