M I D W E E K
OCTOBER 26, 2011.
AMORY PHILLIPS – A SPECIAL TRIBUTE. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2011. 2
BACK IN 1973, Amory Phillips was working at Plantations Limited’s Speightstown depot when he received a call from businessman Rawle Brancker, who told him about a project which had been designed to assist cricketers of the day. The suggestion was for them to become lumber retailers. A group of Jamaican investors involved in the wholesaling of lumber wanted to extend their operations of their lumber company throughout the Caribbean. They wanted a company into which the region’s international cricketers could invest and enjoy financial returns after their retirement. On one anniversary of the Barbados Lumber Company, the late Phillips told the interviewer: “He (Brancker) told me that he was anxious for an answer because he didn’t want to miss the opportunity. I called him back and told him about an idea I had already formulated which was along the same lines, so it was not difficult for me to tell him ‘yes’ and contribute.” Apart from Brancker, the other cricketers who took up the offer were Charlie Griffith and Peter Lashley. Though the enterprise had originated with a group of Jamaican and Barbadian businessmen, a number of the local cricketers that Phillips thought would come on board, showed no interest and he went ahead without them. “We had to go ahead with other persons who felt that here was an occasion when black people could come together and
AT LEFT: Amory Phillips greeting his first customer Eugenie Nichols in 1973. Above: 15 years on, 1988, Phillips celebrates Nichols’ loyal patronage during the company’s Open Day, presenting her with a gift. (FPs) class Barbadian. “We had to rely on the lower income end of the market in terms of housing, to support this company,” Phillips told the interviewer, adding, “They came in large numbers …. We were not fortunate to get any of the contract business in those days and had to rely on the support of alternate governments.” When the Jamaican investors in the establish a business in Barbados that, up to company, attracted by another investment that time, was controlled by persons other opportunity here, offered to sell their shares to the Barbadian shareholders at a than our kind,” Phillips said. price which the Barbadians considered The Jamaican group reportedly put up the first set of money to start the company, way beyond their capacity, Phillips said paying 51 per cent of the shareholding up during the company’s 25th anniversary celebrations: “We found three friends front, while allowing their Barbadian counterparts to pay for their shares over a abroad who assisted us by way of buying a percentage of the shares and the existing reasonable period of time. shareholders had to make arrangements Key Homes Barbados Limited, the company that the group set up, was meant with their banks and insurance companies to be involved in the construction of homes, and Phillips recalled the initial fear he had going into the venture. “… fear that there may have been persons involved in the business who, because of the structure within Barbados’ business at the time, were using those safeguards preventing other persons from getting involved in the lumber business”. There were obstacles which Phillips and his team overcame and which served as an indicator that his company’s focus and commitment ought to be to the working
in an effort to raise the money to purchase those shares.” Amory Phillips rose to be chairman of the Barbados Lumber Company, steering it through challenging times. The period of “serious planning” which he instituted when the competition from others in similar businesses became fierce, resulted in his company being able to stay the course in the face of challenges to its survival. He had on one occasion discussed the importance of instituting a new guard, explaining: “The (new) guard is a good guard. The ones coming up are competent, confident, and understand the way ahead. I’d like to hope that there will be no consideration of a closure of this business.” When Phillips died on October 6, after a prolonged illness, every indication was his company would surely continue.
AMORY PHILLIPS – A SPECIAL TRIBUTE. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2011. 4
• From Page 3. acumen, his generosity and fairness, his graciousness, and his calm demeanour.” In 1986 Amory was appointed a Senator and continued to serve until 1994. He made his maiden speech at the third meeting he attended on the February 11, 1987. The debate was concerned with the purchase by the crown of a piece of land at Four Square, St Philip, for the construction of a fire station. On this and other occasions his speeches reflected his expertise with regard to construction. For example, he urged that the government’s housing policy should encourage the building of stone rather than wood houses. Again, referring to the use of iron bars on windows (March 11,1987): “Very often, Sir, you find yourself in a sort of prison situation from which there is no exit.” Phillips had a progressive view about the activity of wayside vendors: “These people have an initiative and a kind of understanding as to how their businesses should succeed. You would note, Sir, that they place themselves in strategic positions. In other words, they seem to make a market analysis as to the vehicular flow, the pedestrian flow and all the things related to their time of business.” Amory went on to encourage the government to provide lay-bys to encourage “these small businesses.” In seeking to promote entrepreneurship, and assistance to aspiring business owners Amory pointed to the significant role of the Barbados Development Bank. He linked this to the annual Wood-Working Competition and Exhibition the Barbados Lumber Company sponsored, and wondered what happened to the talent it showed year after year. He said “a good artisan is not always best at managing resources”. The Skills Training Programme and the Development Bank should be more active in assisting with the preparation of business development plans and technical guidance. Amory was able to put some of his recommendations into practice during the six years he was Chairman of the Board of the Barbados National Bank (BNB). In its tribute in THE NATION of October 13 the BNB noted that “his leadership positioned the bank for its eventual transition from state to majority private ownership.” Amory threw himself into horse racing with great enthusiasm. He often went to the Garrison to view the morning practice runs. He established smooth relationships with all within the racing fraternity ranging from stable hands to grooms, trainers, to officials and owners. In a published tribute in the Barbados Advocate of October 14, Sir David Seale, current president of the Barbados Turf Club drew attention to the following: “Amory was for many years President,
Chief Steward and a Director of the Club. History will reveal that it was under Amory’s Presidency that the Club and sport of horse racing made spectacular progress. . . . Amory Phillips loved horse racing and was a fixture at the Garrison . . . His easy-going style endeared him to all he came into contact with. The sport of racing will miss a true friend.” As with most owners, Amory’s racing successes were spotty. Adding a second string to his bow, he decided to establish The Cove Stud Farm. This venture produced a slightly greater success. Senator Dr Carl Clarke commented that these ventures “demonstrated to young Barbadians that the only doors closed to you are the doors you close yourself”. Amory’s success in public life was recognized in 1992 when he was honoured with the award of the Gold Crown of Merit (GCM). This award was presented by the Governor-General, the late Dame Nita Barrow, at Government House. Fellow Senators heaped praises upon him. Senator Carmeta Fraser said: “Up front in pushing arts and crafts, interested in young people and senior citizens. Debating in schools was his brainchild . . . loves Barbados with a passion.” Senator Tyrone Barker referred to him as: “a man of integrity without bitterness . . . without rancour.” Senator Maizie Barker-Welch insisted that with Amory one could always expect: “a certain amount of quiet calmness that is so lacking in today’s frenzied world.” Senator Anderson Morrison found that Amory was “the silent mover behind all things good and beautiful”. It is often said that if you want something done, you must ask a busy person. This was certainly true of Amory. Despite his busy schedule he always had time for his family. His children (Franz, Shelley Kay and Imran), his grand-children (Krystal, Chanel, Rena and Jaedyn), and his great grandchild (Alex) all have happy memories of fun times with him. Also, he was particularly pleased to host (along with his brothers Vin and Tony, and his daughter-in-law Ingred) celebrations at his home in honour of his mother’s birthdays leading up to her century. Similarly, functions were held from time to time to welcome visiting cousins, other relatives, and friends. It seems appropriate at this time to extend heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the family of the late Sir
Marcus Jordan, who was President of the Senate during Amory’s tenure. Amory James Navarro Phillips died at his residence, Cove House, on October 6, 2011 after a long illness. He leaves to mourn his immediate and extended family, and a multitude of friends. Indeed, he lived a full life. May he rest in peace.
RECEIVING his Gold Crown of Merit for his contribution to business, sport and public service from the late Dame Nita Barrow. (FP)
AMORY PHILLIPS – A SPECIAL TRIBUTE. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2011. 5
FRANZ PHILLIPS and his late father may have had diverse business interests, but the common bond was the love and admiration shared between father and son. Paying tribute to “dad” Franz said “I never lacked for anything . . . he was a good father” The owner of Franz Phillips Construction Company Limited said: “I have been doing my own thing for about 20 years now and I was never really involved in his (father’s) business. I was into music and music and lumber don’t go together.” He recalls his father’s efforts to get him involved in the business, even giving him shares. “Daddy was all taken up with his busines, his horses and so on, we owned a horse, Care Hagen, together. He tried to get me interested, but I was not”, and he is grateful his father respected that. However, now that Amory Phillips is gone, Franz expresses some regret that he did not accede to his father’s persausion and take a greater interest in the lumber business which Amory Phillips had worked so hard to build. He however treasures those times he went to the company and did odd jobs during his school vacation. “I was with my father from the beginning of his sickness to the end, and I knew that one day it would come to an end. “I always used to say to myself I would rally to the end, because there was never a day that I went hungry. I always got what I wanted, there was nothing that I asked for that he did not give me. “When I wanted to be a DJ he helped me too.” These are treasured memories for Franz, who was inspired by his father’s drive and a business acumen, which he strives to apply to his own business. Phillips’ daughter, Kay, wrote in tribute to her father: “Daddy was kind and generous, warm and friendly, and always had time for all who wanted to talk to him. He never judged anyone irrespective of background or position held. He treated everyone equally and fairly. He cared about his work colleagues, associates, friends and his children especially. “He often imparted his wisdom, giving sensible advice based on his
AMORY PHILLIPS with son Franz and daughter Kay. (GP)
experience. He loved to entertain and socialize and took every opportunity to do so. These are the
qualities that I admired most about him and try to follow in my own life.”
AMORY PHILLIPS – A SPECIAL TRIBUTE. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2011. 6
Tribute to Amory James Navarro Phillips GCM on behalf of the Democratic Labour Party. Amory James Navarro Phillips joined the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) on December 20, 1963, and remained a faithful and loyal member until the time of his death. Amory emerged as a popular person within the party. He radiated warmth and charm with a sense of fun that captivated everyone who came in contact with him. Amory was a very disciplined member, who set an example for all and his advice was sought by many. Amory loved his party and held many positions therein. He was a member of the General and Executive Councils, Chairman of the Auditorium Committee, and Senator from 1986 to 1994. He was campaign manager to a party candidate and election agent. Amory was instrumental in many fundraising activities for the party and the St Lucy branch. His residence was used on many occasions for luncheons which raised funds for the branch. The last one being in 2008, at that particular luncheon I got a tongue lashing from him. Amory offered me a donation which I found difficult to accept, after he sold many tickets and we were using his premises. Who tell me to do that? He got very
bear [employee morale] in mind because, in order to get substantial output from their workers, the workers need to be assured that there is a pattern of promotion within the organization. This applies to our Barbados Tourism Authority and to any statutory corporation or in any business. One should look at promoting oneself and gaining a promotion within the organization.” [Now we see why the Barbados Lumber Company is a successful Company].” He also said: “I believe that we DLP MEMBERS (from left) Patrick Todd, Peter Morgan, Delisle Bradshaw, Yvonne Walkes, Amory Phillips and Frank Da Silva should continue to link our sporting activities to our tourism under the United We Stand banner. (FP) activities as we have done in the offended and asked me who give name of the DLP, you could past. There are several cricket me the right to tell him when and consider whatever you requested fields in all parishes and we know what he can offer to his party. as signed, sealed and delivered. that English school teams love to When I was leaving he reminded At our last branch visit to see visit Barbados to participate. me never to try that one again. him when we were leaving and “Although it is probably just During the years 1986-94 one of the comrades said prayers. friendly cricket, nevertheless it is Amory was chairman of the Amory said, “I want to give a cricket, and once they are in Barbados National Bank, and prayer” and started by thanking Barbados they figure they are chairman of the governing body God for giving his party the playing against the best when of the St. Lucy’s Secondary opportunity to lead Barbados they come here. We will School. On April 30, 2005, he was again, and hoped members would obviously have to continue to honoured by the party for the ask God for guidance. make that substantial effort in second time at the party’s Following are quotes from sports, particularly when it comes anniversary function. Amory’s last days in the Senate to encouraging visitors to our Amory was always there for debate of 1994, precisely March shores.” the DLP, his party. Once you went 23, 1994. Final comment from Amory to Amory and mentioned the “I believe our hoteliers must was: “The tourism sector must, as
I said earlier, be able to continue to determine areas of interest and I can think right away in terms of the Garrison being an area that should be more widely used as an area for tourism. There is a lot of historical interest in the Garrison and its environs. “Indeed, I believe that the Garrison should be listed on our brochures as an area to be visited by people coming here. We could appoint a few tour guides who would be able to explain the history, relating to the various buildings, caves and armouries which can be found in the Garrison compound. “It is interesting to note that the Art Collection Foundation has established a headquarters in the area of the Garrison. Areas like this must not miss the attention of the Government and we must not consider it a small thing.” It is amazing to see that this last one was just accomplished. Family, friends, comrades we all have lost a great patriot, a great businessman, a great sportsman, a great politician and a great source of inspiration. May he rest in Peace – MARGOT HARVEY Branch Secretary.
AMORY PHILLIPS – A SPECIAL TRIBUTE. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2011. 7
THE NAME AMORY PHILLIPS will always be associated with the success and the social impact of the Barbados Lumber Co Ltd. Mr Phillips, along with local and Caribbean businessmen, formulated a plan and established a business to sell lumber to the Barbadian community. They formed the Barbados Lumber Co Ltd and established an outlet at Waterford, St Michael, on land leased from the Barbados Government. The business commenced on December 1, 1973, with Mr Phillips as managing director. By this time Amory Phillips had established himself as a lumber expert, a reputation he had gained from working for almost two decades with a leading business in the lumber, hardware and construction field. He was sought out to lead this new organisation not only because of his expertise and ability, but because of his personality and his numerous personal associations. In December 1973, Barbados was feeling the effects of the first energy crisis which was severely hampering the world economy. Despite this, the company was launched with the hope that the leadership would be able to negotiate the turbulent economic environment. Indeed it was not only the economic circumstances that made the environment hostile. Barbados Lumber Company entered a market which was dominated by a group of established merchants that was quite unwelcoming and that demonstrated this at every opportunity to do so.
A SECTION of the 1998 Board of the Barbados Lumber Company Ltd. Seated (from left): Amory Phillips, Peter Lashley and Rawle Brancker. Standing (from left): Ashley Toppin, Dr Franklyn Lloyd, Charles Griffith, and Winston Layne (GP)
advised, and nurtured by Amory Phillips. Amory was particularly concerned with staff welfare. His generous nature and his disposition to fairness ensured that staff shared in the success of the business. The staff has repaid his support with their loyalty and dedication. During his years as leader of Barbados Lumber Company, Amory found time to make significant contributions to the society at large. In particular, he served as a senator from 1986 to 1994. We remember his sterling contributions to debates especially on housing and construction. As Chairman of Barbados National Bank he successfully restructured that institution’s problematic loan portfolio and prepared the bank for its eventual sale by the Government. He was President of the Barbados Turf Club and is credited with overseeing the substantial upgrade in facilities now enjoyed by that august organisation.
Amory provided tremendous support the concept of ‘extended credit’ for certain to many groups. He assisted and advised first. Some of the Caribbean investors customers. This allowed persons, who due several churches on their refurbishment seemed to lose faith in the enterprise. to their meagre means were unable to Amory did not. He persuaded his senior and upgrading. He assisted many schools staff members and a few friends to acquire access bank or other financing, to build, and served as the Chairman of the improve or repair their homes and pay for Board of St Lucy Secondary School the shareholdings of the retreating their purchases over a longer than normal for a long period. For many years he investors. He assisted in arranging bank financing to facilitate the purchase of those credit period. sponsored a Wood Work exhibition for These customers are the epitome of shares. Of course he demonstrated his secondary schools. loyalty and are the base on which the commitment and confidence in the As a lover of sports, he sponsored company’s success is built. The company’s the local Lakers basketball team and the business by purchasing additional shares bankers had to be persuaded that this was UAC netball team. These are perhaps and becoming the largest shareholder in an acceptable and desirable method of the company. two of the most enduring relationships doing business. Amory introduced a number of between a corporate sponsor and Well chosen leader Another key strategy adopted by Mr initiatives during his 35 years as leader of Barbadian sports teams. Amory’s fellow investors had chosen Phillips was his excellent relationship with the Barbados Lumber Co. Ltd. He was Although Amory had a passion for well. The patronage from persons in the suppliers. motivated to assist as many persons as horse racing and horse breeding I think north of Barbados, where Amory was He insisted that the company’s good possible in owning and maintaining a he had a special place in his heart already a household name, was so strong home. The company embarked on a project name would depend, not only on how it for cricket. He had represented his that a branch of the company had to be treated its customers and staff, but on how alma mater, Combermere, and had to build homes on request and to place established at Church Street, Speightstown them on lots secured by the prospective it dealt with its suppliers. ‘You could only played with and against some of by 1976. Demand for products to sell merchandise if you had merchandise homeowner. This project came to an end Barbados’ leading cricketers. complement the lumber led to the to sell: suppliers were to be kept happy when land owners became reluctant to On leaving school he played for establishment of hardware departments at allow houses to be sited on their property. and be paid on time’. Leeward Cricket Club and then for both locations where the company now Most members of the Barbados Lumber Windsor both in his native St Lucy. He operated. Strategist Co Ltd staff are long standing employees. was a Life Member of North Stars Cultural The early 1980s ushered a second Amory, with his intimate knowledge of This is not by accident. These persons were and Social Club to which he provided recession: one more devastating than the considerable assistance and advice. He the prevailing social conditions, introduced carefully chosen, trained, instructed, assisted the club in launching its now famous tours to England and took part in the first tour in August 2000. His love for cricket ensured that most cricket fields in Barbados are adorned with a Barbados Lumber Company scoreboard. AMORY PHILLIPS to me was a visionary par excellence. prepared to dedicate my life to the development of the company In all of this Amory supported, and was I first came into contact with Amory Phillips when I started and black businesses in particular. supported by, his children Franz, Shelleyworking at Barbados Lumber Company in 1974. My first He recognised that business had to be conducted differently Kay and Imran, his siblings Vinston and impression of him, emanating out of conversations regarding his to avoid what he considered exploitation of the worker and Tony, his daughter-in-law Ingrid, his work experiences and exploits, suggested that he was unhappy consumer and was willing to do so despite much criticism from extended but very close family, his many with the status quo of business practices in Barbados and was his peers. friends and neighbours, his business willing to change them at the first opportunity. He was concerned with the fact that the company could not associates, and by the wider community. He never spoke with any acrimony about the challenges he pay salaries and wages commensurate with the more Amory Phillips was a man who experienced, but recognized that if he was going to excel in an established entities and out of genuine sympathy, provided loan assisted, advised, encouraged, supported area he loved he had to do it through his own organisation. assistance to workers on concessionary terms. and shared with those who he came in For him that opportunity came with the introduction of This same kind of generosity and trust was extended to contact with. He did this in an honest and Barbados Lumber Co. Ltd which brought competition into an customers, who in many instances could not meet the minimum gracious manner. Amory did not expect industry that was being monopolised. The resulting downward requirements to access an account with the company. to gain benefit from the way he related to spiral in prices created the kind of effect which was desirable, Mr Phillips adopted an open door policy which made him people. His relationships and his treatment making building materials and housing in particular, more easily accessible to workers and customers alike. of people were genuine. affordable to the middle and lower class Barbadian populous. He introduced a management style of building a family unit Barbados Lumber Co Ltd has benefited The introduction of Barbados Lumber Company was met that was inclusive of employees and customers, a style that was from Amory’s fine qualities and from his with much resistance from those businesses that were misunderstood by many and yet to be appreciated by others. approach to life. It is our duty to continue challenged and required from Mr Phillips great tenacity, Today the third generation of families still laud the support his good work and to build on his legacy. resilience and fortitude to ensure the survival of a black and generosity he extended to their parents and grandparents. company entering unchartered waters. Such was the caring nature of the man. — ASHLEY TOPPIN, It was these qualities that endeared Mr Phillips to me, and May he rest in peace. EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, more importantly, determined for me the fact that I was — BYRON AGARD, PURCHASING MANAGER BARBADOS LUMBER CO LTD
AMORY PHILLIPS – A SPECIAL TRIBUTE. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2011. 8&9
Tribute to the Late, Amory J.N. Phillips, GCM by Rawle C. Brancker, GCM, JP, Cofounder, Barbados Lumber Company Ltd.
by CHARLES CHRISTOPHER GRIFFITH IT IS AN HONOUR and a privilege to pay tribute to and celebrate the life and contribution of my late friend and business partner, Amory James Navarro Phillips. He was an extra-ordinary person and an excellent entrepreneur. Amory attended my alma mater St Clement’s Primary School in St Lucy and then relocated to St Michael where he pursued studies at St Giles Primary School and Combermere. During his vacation periods, Amory would always return to his beloved St Lucy to share fellowship with the boys and to play cricket in the yard of St Clement’s School. At that time we had two teams that someone decided to call Oxford and Cambridge. As a youngster, I did not at that time know the significance of these names, until years after, when I discovered that they were two of the oldest and most prestigious universities in England. I also came to the realization that most of the names of people and places in Barbados have an English derivation and are a reflection of our colonial history which continues to influence our thinking.
owned lumber company was incorporated in this island and commenced business on December 1, 1973. It specialized in the sale of lumber, building materials and hardware, and in the early days, timber house construction. The directors recognized from the outset that they needed a competent, dedicated, committed, industrious and loyal general manager to deal with the challenges of running such an enterprise. The prevailing hostile business environment which characterized Barbados at that time, has lasting vestiges today. I suggested Amory Phillips, who possessed those qualities and who had developed a reputation for excellence and professionalism at Plantations Limited. My recommendation was readily accepted by the Directors of the Company and Amory commenced his long association with the company. Amory and I worked diligently together from the inception of Barbados Lumber Company Limited (BLC ), following my resignation from Government’s Sports Department in 1972. We started with a small staff of four or five persons. We therefore had to multi-task in the areas of general management, sales and marketing, marking lumber, driving the forklift and other tasks.
Good all-round cricketer
Amory was a good all-round cricketer with a cautious approach to batting, developed at Combermere where the emphasis was on defending your wicket. He also gained a well-deserved reputation as a good slow/medium bowler who could move the ball both ways. He played cricket for Combermere, the Psychiatric Hospital, Spartan, and his favourite Club, Leeward, in St Lucy, where he spent many years and enhanced his fame as a swing bowler. Over the years Amory and I kept in touch with each other, including during my tenure as a Barbados and West Indies Cricketer and a professional Cricketer in the United Kingdom. When I was living in St Michael, following my stint of professional cricket in the United Kingdom, I would journey to Pie Corner, St Lucy on Sundays to visit my parents. On the way there I would stop at Amory’s residence at Church Hill, St Lucy. Then we would discuss current affairs focussing mainly on cricket. We became very close friends and maintained that bond until his death. Amory endeared himself to me because of his caring, compassionate, generous, gentlemanly, peaceful, polite and loyal
FLASHBACK 2005: FORMER Barbados Turf Club President Amory Phillips (left) receiving The President’s Merit Award from BTC vicepresident Francis Cozier. (FP) disposition. I continue to be grateful to Amory, since he was instrumental in helping me to keep my childhood promise of building a fully equipped house for my beloved parents at Pie Corner in St Lucy. He introduced me to his manager at Plantations Limited. That company was then one of the major lumber firms in Barbados, and Amory ensured that all of the necessary arrangements were made to facilitate construction. The idea of starting a lumber business owned and controlled by black Caribbean nationals was conceptualized by Pat Rousseau of Jamaica; Rawle Brancker of Barbados and other nationals of both countries. And so in June 1973, the only black-
THROUGH THICK AND THIN: Lumber giants Charlie Griffith (left) and Amory Phillips, boyhood friends, have been business partners more than 25 years. (FP)
Amory with all my proposals, plans, and projects. He also encouraged me to become involved in horse racing, his passionate, exciting and expensive hobby. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, including the early mornings spent at the Garrison Savannah and other times at his breeding farm at the Cove, St Lucy. Astute leader My final reflection on the life, work and Over the years, especially during the contribution of Amory Phillips refers to his family fledgling period of the company we spent long hours together discussing strategies and and extended family relationships. He loved and respected every single member of his immediate plans to make the company successful. The and extended family and considered it his duty and company was fortunate to have Amory as its responsibility to make them the beneficiaries of his general manager, a leader with fantastic ideas, a immense care and generosity. man of vision and vigorous pro-activity. We were He also lovingly embraced his colleagues, also fortunate to have in our team, high calibre friends, and his community, including his church directors on the board, who gave us their full and other religious denominations; and schools, support. sports and cultural clubs; of his beloved St Lucy Under Amory’s astute leadership and and its immediate environs, and contributed management a branch of the company was established in Speightstown, St Peter in 1976. Based significantly to their various endeavours. My life has been enriched by my long on my tutelage and experience in the cricket arena, association with Amory James Navarro Phillips, as I always took the initiative to improve my schoolmate, cricketer, horse racing enthusiast and knowledge and performance in the business owner, business partner, and, most importantly, as a environment by undertaking training courses, friend and confidante. participating in seminars and examining and May he be warmly welcomed by his Maker, learning from best practices. Almightly God and May he rest in peace. Amory always encouraged me and assisted in my personal and professional growth and development. I had responsibility for marketing and sales during my long association with the company, and received invaluable support from
FLASHBACK: Boyhood friends Amory Phillips (left), and Rawle Brancker (right) sharing in a light moment AMORY AND I met just with Sir David Seale during a cheque presentation over 60 years ago as he had ceremony. (FP) already been at meant the difference generosity and trust were Combermere School, then between a comfortable betrayed and it can be said on Roebuck Street, (the site company and one which that his friendship was of Transport Board), when I was comfortably wealthy. In sometimes taken advantage joined in 1950. life you win and lose some. of, but that never deterred Our friendship Amory and I over the him, so was the man. A developed as both of us years got involved in other good man — he was born to gravitated to the cricket projects and like most construction timber help people. Nothing gave him for his dedicated field and I was assigned to things, some worked while him more pleasure. connections in Central leadership, unstinting membership of Set E, of some didn’t. That’s how life America and after doing His failing health a few loyalty and strength of which he was the deputy is. some market research here I years ago was a great shock character in overcoming the set captain. His other and of more to all those close to him and It was during our cricket convinced them to open an many challenges and than passing interests were every effort was made to operation in Barbados. setbacks encountered over practice sessions that I got horses, politics and service I was charged with the assist in finding the best the many years, to to know he came from St to his fellowman. responsibility of setting it medical care, but he successfully establish a Lucy and remained in Amory was passionate up and finding investors, a company and a brand that eventually succumbed. Bridgetown during the about politics and getting a board, staff and location. God always knows best. has become a household week, going home on fair deal for his fellowman. Being always aware that He is now with his Maker name, and a cadre of loyal Friday evenings, returning He enjoyed a couple to continue service at that employees and customers. to board on Sundays at the Amory had gone straight terms as a senator, in which higher level. from school to a lumber He assisted several middle corner of Tudor Street and chamber he made his To all of his gracious and lower income Mahogany Lane. Such were organisation in political view known. He Speightstown and had built Barbadian families to own family from all of us at the transport limitations of was loyal to the DLP an enviable reputation over and maintain their homes. Barbados Lumber that day. He couldn’t get (Democratic Labour Party). Company, please accept our 20 years and had in fact Amory agreed with me from and to St Lucy daily. Amory was a loyalist to become a lumber guru — I deepest condolences. We that the notable incorrect This brought us even thought it best to talk to decision the two of us took St Lucy and those from the have all lost an outstanding closer as we would walk parish. He was unshakably icon and friend. was not to join a land down Roebuck Street every him first, offering loyal to his family, friends, shareholding, board May God grant him the mogul to use acres of his afternoon to his corner staff and colleagues, to the peace and favour he so land for chattel house boarding residence, as I was membership and the opportunity to manage the development. It could have extent that at times his richly deserves. a City boy and his place was all along my way home operation as its managing director. at Emmerton. To my absolute We would talk about amazement, without much everything, especially of discussion, negotiation and course, cricket — we procrastination, he decided became great buddies. We went through school to join and greatly assisted me in finding all the other winning matches for Set E, which he captained and for executives and staff. The the school. Amory’s cricket rest is a marvellous story of growth and development of got him a place on a very Barbados’ first black owned formidable team which lumber and building Messrs Ronnie Hughes, material establishment now Harry Sealy and Bruce St. 37 years old, skilfully John developed. crafted and navigated by On leaving school we went in different directions, Amory, in spite of all the external attempts to but cricket would bring us marginalise and ruin the back together occasionally. In 1973, I had formed an company. To his credit, the alliance with a Jamaican shareholders, directors and investment group which staff are largely indebted to had some excellent
A CARING, HELPFUL, and kind human being who touched the lives of many and endeared himself to customers, staff and all with whom he came into contact. Such were the admirable qualities of the late Amory Phillips. Bringing his previous experience in the lumber field, he co-founded Barbados lumber company in July 1973 and was easily recognized as a born leader. He selected a management team and I had the opportunity and privilege to be a part of this as financial controller. Amory possessed sterling leadership qualities and was highly respected by all staff members, He was, to his credit, the type of managing director who sought and followed the advice of his staff, and gave them a relatively free hand to
implement any ideas that would enhance the company. He was also one to excercise discernment, postponing decisions when angry and waiting until he had regained a calm demeanour. While boasting commendable business acumen, Amory, who was a greatly esteemed lumber specialist, was not single-focused, but was a balanced person. He was a sports enthusiast and lent support to the industry as a sponsor. Indeed, he leaves a void that cannot easily be filled. On behalf of my wife and myself, I would like to take this opportunity to express heartfelt condolences to his family. May he rest in peace. — WINSTON LAYNE, FORMER FINANCIAL CONTROLLER
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MR PHILLIPS had an endearing personality. His graciousness, generosity and fairness made him a godfather to his staff and friends. He loved the lumber industry and dedicated his life to helping people. It was a pleasure to have known him. — MELVITA BOYCE, CUSTOMER SERVICES MANAGER MR PHILLIPS was a respectable, caring and no-nonsense employer, who looked out for his staff and customers alike. His presence inspired staff in the various departments to maintain a business-like atmosphere. He also had a jovial side, and would often say things that would make you laugh for days. We will all miss him. — HEATHER BOWEN, SENIOR HARDWARE CLERK I met Mr Phillips when I came to work at Barbados Lumber Company over 30 years ago and was immediately impressed by the love and care he showed for his employees and customers. As time went on, I saw this humble and kind gentleman always thinking of other persons and their concerns before his own, and going out of his way to make others happy. I will always remember all the good things he did for so many people for as long as he could. For now, I say so long to my Boss, Friend, Trusted Advisor and Mentor, until we meet again. — BRENDA BOWEN, ACCOUNTANT
AMORY PHILLIPS (centre) in 2003 with staff who had spent 25 to 30 years with the company. (GP)
AMORY PHILLIPS (second left) celebrating with staff at the Speightstown branch. (GP) AS A BOSS, he always made sure that staff and their family were comfortable and not in need. As a Mentor, he provided valuable advice on negotiating the potholes of life. As a Friend, he was always there to give a listening ear or a helping hand. I consider myself truly blessed to have had the privilege of knowing a humanitarian such as Mr Amory Phillips. — GRACE GREENIDGE, ASST. MANAGER, SPEIGHTSTOWN
FOR ME, Mr Amory Phillips was the most caring, understanding and gracious man I have ever known. He was a man who inspired loyalty from his staff, and I was most impressed by the way he interacted with people. From the start of my working life at the company, he was my role model and father-figure and I remember going to his house every Sunday morning where he taught me everything I needed to know about the lumber industry. Through the years, he shared much of his life experiences with me and Mr David Leslie during our Friday lunch outings. I loved that he kept me close, and this inspired me to want to succeed at every task, no matter how difficult or how small. He made us all feel that we were the Lumber Company, and the Lumber Company was us. We believed in his vision for the company, and we all worked hard to make it happen. A great man has gone. — GORDON DEWER, ASST. MANAGER – LUMBER
... A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver – Proverbs 25:11
AMORY PHILLIPS (left, back row) with the management team at a Christmas function. (GP) MR PHILLIPS was a wonderful and caring boss. He was a cricketing person who loved the game. I remember him officiating and loving it while on a UK tour with my club after his playing days were over. He will be missed by Lumber Company employees and my cricketing fraternity. — IAN BROOME, LUMBER SUPERVISOR ‘…good friends we had are good friends we lost along the way’ – Bob Marley INDEED we have lost a good friend. It was an honour to have known Mr Phillips for the past 11 years. He was a man with boundless enthusiasm and a personality that would light up a room. — TITO ROCK, INVENTORY CLERK
I HAD the honor of working with Mr Phillips at Barbados Lumber Company for more than three decades. He brought vision, direction, purpose, fearlessness, professionalism, confidence and a great sense of humour to this company and his other endeavours. He had a ‘never say die’ attitude, even when the odds were heavily stacked against him. His humility enabled him to interact with persons from all walks of life. Like the Apostle Paul he has run the race and kept the faith in finishing this earthly course. — ANDREW PHILLIPS, LUMBER PORTER A MAN OF MERIT, who was always willing to help others in any way possible — PEGGY MOORE, ACCOUNTS CLERK MR PHILLIPS always looked out for his staff. He was an honest person and loved his work. — EDISON PAYNE, SECURITY CLERK
I HAD the pleasure of working with Mr Phillips for over 35 years. He was a very kind, loving and understanding boss and dear friend. I will miss him – LURITA AGARD, CREDIT OFFICER MR PHILLIPS was a kind and generous man who was always willing to help others. His generosity was seen when the company was having financial challenges and he insisted that the workers still receive a little bonus. — RONALD HINDS, HARDWARE CLERK MR PHILLIPS was a nice individual. When I applied for the position at the company, he did not hesitate to say yes, which gave me the opportunity to better myself — MELBOURNE HOLDER, LUMBER PORTER
MR PHILLIPS was a very caring person who would always look out for his staff and make sure that we improved on our job skills and personal lives. He would listen to us and make sure that we were comfortable at work and at home and he would make sure that we got something to take home at Christmas, no matter how little it was. — HARRIET GRIFFITH, CASHIER I HAVE KNOWN Mr Phillips for the past 33 years. He always had a pleasant manner and a very good working relationship with his staff. He was a loving manager and will be sadly missed by all who worked with him. — JASPER BARROW, SECURITY CLERK
AMORY PHILLIPS (right) chatting with a customer during customer appreciation day at the Barbados Lumber Company’s Waterford branch. (GP)
AMORY (right) with his brother, Speightstown branch manager, Vinston Phillips. (GP)
I HAVE known Mr Phillips for over 30 years. It was through him that I became employed by the company. He took an enormous interest in all of us who worked under his leadership, and encouraged us to have own our home. He helped make this possible by giving staff credit at concessionary rates. He was a very caring person and a father-figure. Sometimes I would sit in the lobby with him and just talk politics. I will surely miss him. — VERLA SPRINGER, SENIOR HARDWARE CLERK
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MR AMORY PHILLIPS was a co-founder of the Barbados Lumber Company (BLC). I was fortunate to be hand-picked as one of the first clerical officers at the age of 18, a resident of his parish St Lucy like 90 per cent of the other staff. He quickly recognised that like him, I had a love for the lumber business. This automatically started a bond that moved from boss to include friendship, which like some marriages lasted until death, 38 years. Mr Phil, as he was affectionately called, was generous beyond measure. He was kind, loving, tolerant, knowledgeable and of course a visionary. He never knew how to be selfish. I remember in the company’s formative years part of his responsibilities was credit. This had to be taken from him since if one did not qualify for the credit that was not a problem; he would charge it to his personal account. Staff also benefited from his generosity. BLC was like a bank where they could have loans at an affordable repayment rate while being encouraged to own their homes. His generosity extended beyond his staff to many relatives, friends and acquaintances. Mr Phillips had many hobbies. These included cricket, horse racing, tennis and of course eating. I remember at one of his many parties he remarked to me: “Dave,
I FIRST MET Mr Phillips when I started work at the Barbados Lumber Company (BLC) in 1979. He was our “boss” and leader of the company. As I grew in the company I soon realized that Mr Phillips was a person whom I could approach at a moment’s notice for advice and/or guidance; he was always available to his staff. As a young person in the Hardware Department, whenever I interacted with Mr Phillips, he would always inquire not only about the department’s performance, but he took a personal interest in how I was enjoying my employment at the company. When I was promoted to the position of salesman after three years, Mr Phillips ensured my success by introducing me to two influential customers, one being Mr Hal Springer who was the purchasing manager at the NHC (Nationl Housing Corporation) the time. He continued to play a similar role in the lives of all of the staff members at the BLC. One of my early recollections of Mr Phillips was that whenever he was upset or troubled, he would appear on
the day you see me refuse food you would know that the end is near.” It was not difficult to sense when the end was near because he stopped eating. Mr Phillips endured his lengthy illness nobly and with dignity. He never complained. Mr Phil was like a father to me, he was my mentor and my confidant, and he will be greatly missed. — DAVID LESLIE FORMER DEPARTMENT LUMBER MANAGER
the balcony with a cigarette in his mouth. The strange thing about this was that Mr Phillips was a non-smoker. When we saw him in that position, we knew that something was troubling him. It was the only time when he appeared detached from the company, but those moments never lasted for a long time. As time went on, I was afforded the opportunity to travel with Mr Phillips on Sports Club tours and I was privileged to get to see him in a different light. If I was forced to summarize his personality in a sentence, I would say that Mr Phillips had a youthful appreciation for life and all of the wonderful opportunities and challenges which it presented to him on a daily basis; he loved live and embraced every challenge with youthful enthusiasm. Mr Phillips has always been a role model and an inspiration to us all and I think that we are better persons for having known him May he rest in peace! — PETER INNISS, ASSISTANT MANAGER – SALES
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Tribute to Amory James Navarro Phillips by Sir David Seale. ON BEHALF OF THE DIRECTORS, management and members of the Barbados Turf Club, I wish to offer our deepest sympathy to the family of Amory Phillips on his passing. Amory was for many years president, chief steward and a director of the club. History will recall that it was under Amory’s presidency that the club and the sport of horse racing made spectacular progress. The racing plant at the Garrison was transformed from a decrepit collection of buildings sited on a “cow pasture” with old wood racing rails to a much improved place with up to date aluminium rails, a joggers’ track and a children’s play park. In addition, a new stand styled the Sir John Chandler
SOUTH SEA, ridden by Desmond Bryan, on its way to winning the Amory Phillips Handicap in January 2007. Memorial Stand was built and 12 corporate boxes erected. Horse stables at both The Garrison and Dalkeith Paddocks were refurbished and much infrastructure work carried out. However, it will not be the physical improvements at The
Garrison that Amory will be remembered for, for it was his board that introduced Lotto to Barbados, which was subsequently merged into what is known as the Barbados Lottery, the nett funds of which go to support all sports
RACE HORSES have always been one of Amory Phillips' passions. (FP) in the island. Amory Phillips loved horse racing and was a fixture at The Garrison until he became very ill a few years ago.
His easy style endeared him to all he came into contact with. The sport of racing will miss a true friend. May he rest in peace.
AMORY PHILLIPS – A SPECIAL TRIBUTE. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2011. 13
Tribute delivered by business partner Rawle Brancker at Amory Phillips’ funnral service. “MINISTERS of Government, parliamentarians, family of the late Amory Phillips, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the Barbados Lumber Company acknowledges with deep sadness the passing of its co-founder and long-time managing director, Mr Amory Phillips GCM, after a very pro-longed illness. Amory will be remembered by staff and customers as a generous and caring businessman who touched the lives of those with whom he came into contact. Through his work with
the company he helped many middle and lower income Barbadians to own and maintain a home in this country. His easy going nature endeared him to his staff and because of this he was able to build a cadre of loyal bodies who have remained with the company through thick and thin. He displayed great strength of character in overcoming the many challenges and setbacks he encountered over the many years to the point where he
succesfully established a company and a brand that is well known not only in Barbados but the region. Amory will live forever in the hearts of many staff members at Barbados Lumber Company and the many customers that do business there. The Barbados Lumber Company therefore extends deep condolences to his bereaved family, his many friends and customers and we pray that he may rest in the peace he so richly deserves.”
Tribute to Amory Phillips from the members of the Lakers Sports Club.
Lumber Company has played a major role over the past 30 years through sponsorship of our respective teams, WE THE MEMBERS of the Lakers Sports which has certainly helped to shape and Club both past and present would like to touch the lives of many persons in our express our condolences to the family and community. friends of the late Amory Phillips. For this we say 'Thank You' Mr Phillips and by extension Barbados May you rest in Peace. God Bless
Deepestt sympathy Mr.. Amoryy Phillipss G.C.M.
hiss outstandingg workk willl livee on
Mayy hee restt inn peace.
Ourr condolencess too thee bereavedd family. Newton Industrial Park, Ch. Ch.
AMORY PHILLIPS – A SPECIAL TRIBUTE. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2011. 14
PEOPLE from across Barbados, from sport, business, the political party they love, and from the Barbados Lumber Company which he founded, thronged the St. Lucy Parish Church to pay final respects to Amory Phillips. The packed church yesterday heard speaker after speaker extol the virtues of the St Lucy-born Barbadian whom eulogist Keith Simmons said became an expert in lumber and joined forces with others from Barbados, Jamaica and elsewhere to establish “a black company venturing into an area of operations historically dominated by, in effect, a cartel of white merchants”. Delivering the eulogy written by Phillips’ brother Tony, Simmons traced his late friend’s life starting from the days when they were both students at Combermere School where Phillips showed his prowess at cricket. Cricketing school contemporaries the Reverend Wes Hall, Peter Lashley and Rawle Brancker were in the congregation, as well as Phillips’ business associate and former West Indies fast bowler, Charles Griffith. Quoting from an early tribute paid by staff of the Barbados Lumber Company, Simmons said Phillips had built a “cadre of loyal employees” who had remained with the Barbados Lumber Company through thick and thin, and through his work with the company he had helped many middle and lower income Barbadians to own and maintain a home,” words repeated by Rawle Brancker as he read a tribute from the staff of the Barbados Lumber Company. Simmons noted that the late businessman’s concern was not limited to his own business, but that he often promoted entrepreneurship and business development, later putting some of his recommendations into practice during the six years he served as chairman of the Barbados
• Continued on next page.
PRIME MINISTER Freundel Stuart laying his wreath on Amory Phillips’ grave while Phillips’ grandson Alex awaits his turn. (FP)
AMORY PHILLIPS – A SPECIAL TRIBUTE. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2011. 15
FAMILY MEMBERS saying their final farewell to Amory Phillips. (Pictures by Lennox Devonish.)
• From Page 14. Development Bank. The eulogist also said Phillips threw himself into horse racing “with great enthusiasm” to the extent that under his presidency the Barbados Turf Club and the sport “made spectacular progress”. He also made mention of Phillips’ membership of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) from 1963 until his death. Making reference to his devotion to the DLP, the party’s St Lucy branch representative, in her tribute on behalf of the DLP, described Phillips as “a very disciplined man who loved his party and set examples for all”. She said he was a party member who was never reluctant to commit his financial and other resources to the DLP. Many stalwarts of the DLP were there to say farewell to a committed member, among them Prime Minister Freundel Stuart who headed an entourage of DLP politicians including several Government ministers and parliamentary representatives. They made an early exit from yesterday’s sitting of the House of Assembly to attend the funeral. Reverend Selven Lowe delivered his address from Verse 15 of the Second Chapter of St Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, the worker who has no need to be ashamed.” He said like Paul, Phillips was not concerned about himself, but that things continued in his absence and that those in charge ensured that things continued. “This afternoon as we reflect on the many years of our dear brother we are urged to reflect on the qualities of the life and the Godly attributes he displayed
AMORY JAMES NAVARRO PHILLIPS has ‘left a legacy for younger businesses and businesmen to follow. (LD) among us” “He has left a legacy of business ethics and acumen for younger businesses and businesmen to follow”Lowe told the congregation. Phillips served in the Barbados Senate from 1986 to 1994, was once chairman of the Governing Body of St Lucy Secondary School, had a deep association with the North Stars Cultural and Social Club of Crab Hill, St Lucy, and was honoured by the Barbados Government . Over 200 people went to Phillips’ Cove House at Cove Bay, St Lucy, where his body had reposed before the funeral service, to pay their respects.
STAFF MEMBERS of Barbados Lumber Company saying farewell to a boss, a colleague and friend. (LD)
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Amory Phillips had a passion for horse racing which he shared with all who were receptive. In the words of longtime friend and business partner Charlie Griffith: “He encouraged me to become involved in horse racing, his passionate, exciting and expensive hobby. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. . . .”
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AMORY PHILLIPS – A SPECIAL TRIBUTE. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2011. 3
EULOGY for Amory James Navarro Phillips, written by Anthony Phillips and read by Keith Simmons.
AMORY JAMES NAVARRO PHILLIPS was born to James Adolphus Phillips and Genetha Ermane Phillips on November 10, 1934, at Durham, St Lucy. He was educated at the St Clements Boys School, The St Giles Boys School, and won a scholarship to Combermere School. At school he proved to be well disciplined in both academics and sports. At Combermere he showed his prowess at cricket in an era when the Combermere cricket team was promoted from the Intermediate Division to the First Division and defeated all the teams except Spartan. Let us recall that this team also included Wes Hall, Peter Lashley, Rawle Brancker and Wilfred Wood (who became the first Black Bishop of the Church of England). Some.Old Combermerians here may recall that Amory was Captain of Set E. As soon as he left school, Amory went to work as a clerk at Plantations Ltd., Speightstown, under the tutelage of the manager Keith Jordan, Jackie Skeete, and others. Amory rapidly became an expert in lumber. He was therefore in an excellent position to join with others from Barbados, Jamaica and elsewhere to establish maybe the first Pan-Caribbean company, widely known as the Barbados Lumber Company Ltd. It was also particularly noteworthy as a Black company venturing into an area of operations historically dominated by, in effect, a cartel of White merchants.
Fortunately, the socio-economic changes in Barbados meant that by 1973 the demand for lumber and building supplies was trending upward. The Errol Barrow government approved a lease of a site at Waterford, St Michael, which remains the headquarters of the company. The branch in Speightstown was established in 1976. With increasing gusto the Barbados Lumber Company has been able to celebrate its 10th, 20th and 30th anniversaries. The celebration in December 2003 at the Accra Hotel was particularly splendid – four persons received 30year service awards, two persons 25-year service awards, and two persons the 20-year service award. In the tribute from the Barbados Lumber Company it was acknowledged that he had built “a cadre of loyal employees who have remained with the company through
thick and thin” and that “through his work with the company he helped many middle and lower income Barbadians to own and maintain a home”. With a concern for the promotion of social justice, Amory became a member of the Democratic Labour Party on December 20, 1963. He held many positions within the party including, for example, Vice President, Member of the General Council, Member of the Executive Council, and Chairman of the Auditorium Committee. In recognition of Phillips’ interest in community building, he was appointed chairman of the governing body of the St Lucy Secondary School. He was also particularly closely linked to the North Stars Cultural and Social Club of Crab Hill, St Lucy. In their tribute in THE NATION on October 12 the Club stated: “Mr. Phillips will be remembered for his business • Continued on next page.