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