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.