From a $5,000 government grant to a multimillion dollar, multilayered company, Bahamas Striping celebrated its seventh anniversary in grand style over the weekend launching not only a new scholarship program but also a million dollar investment fund for the next generation of Bahamian entrepreneurs.
Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, deputy prime minister, Peter Turnquest and other parliamentarians were amongst a select gathering of invited guests attending Saturday’s event held on the grounds of the company’s Abundant Life Road headquarters.
Prominent persons from a cross section of society were also in attendance including the Inter-American Development Bank country representative, Maria Attademo-Hirt; high ranking Chamber of Commerce officials Edison Sumner and Gowan Bowe; Cuban Ambassador Ismara Vargas Walter and Wayne Treco of CGT Contractors and Developers Ltd (more commonly known as Treco Construction).
Since its humble beginnings in 2010, Bahamas Striping has morphed into Bahamas Striping Group of Companies (BSGC) encompassing, the original business, Airport Maintenance Services, Caribbean Pavement Solutions, Bahamas Themed Photography and Abaco Caribbean Holdings Limited.
Hailing Bahamas Striping as “one of the fastest, growing group of companies in The Bahamas,” Prime Minister Minnis noted the young firm’s growth into a leading Bahamian enterprise.
“I admire the great work of this company and its staff. I admire the energy, the innovation, the enthusiasm and most of all the desire to help new enterprises and new entrepreneurs,” said Dr Minnis.
“Be assured that you will have 150 percent support of our government…You are not only a center of excellence you are also a center of hope.”
According to the deputy prime minister, the company embodies the Free National Movement campaign slogan, “the people’s time.”
“It is about empowering Bahamians who would not ordinarily have the opportunity to achieve the kind of success in business as Bahamas Striping has had over the last seven years,” he affirmed.
“These gentlemen have shown what creativity, commitment and hard work can achieve in a very, very short space of time with very little,” said Mr Turnquest. “Business is not just about making a profit it is about being good corporate citizens and helping those who may not be able to do for themselves.”
Aside from its high performance track record, the company has made a name for itself in philanthropic circles with its Dollar That Could charitable arm and its work paving numerous basketball courts throughout The Bahamas free of charge.
As a part of its seventh anniversary celebrations the company announced it had established the Charles Maynard Scholarship Fund to assist in educating young Bahamians. The $50,000 pledged will be distributed over a five year period with the Maynard Family selecting recipients.
The former Minister of State for Youth, Sports and Culture died suddenly in 2012. Bahamas Striping president and founder, Atario Mitchell credits him as a “true believer” in the company and its vision.
Mr Mitchell was one of 400 individuals at the time who received the Self-Starter grant from Mr Maynard’s ministry. The late parliamentarian took a special interest in the nascent company often providing guidance, helped to empower Mitchell and his co-founder, Dominic Sturrup.
Accepting the symbolic cheque on the family’s behalf was Mr Maynard’s parents, Andrew “Dud” and Isadora Maynard, along with the late parliamentarian’s youngest daughter, 10-year-old Chana.
“We never expected this to come about but now I intend to sit down with the Minister of Education and see how we can make that money do the most for the most people,” said the elder Maynard. “We have a lot of young people who have fallen through the cracks through the years.”
Expressing his eternal gratitude, Mr Maynard vowed to make the money grow through fundraisers, promising the foundation will be around “for years to come.”
According to Mr Mitchell, as a 23-year-old, his dream was to launch the company and travel throughout The Bahamas “just putting marks on the road.”
“I never really thought the idea would bring us to where we are today but I was always hopeful,” he said. “I’m proud to stand here seven years later to see what we have built as a team. It gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment.”
Reaching the seven year mark was a difficult journey, according to company executives. Pushing the company along was a single word, the company’s motto, “results.”
“We do what it takes to get the job done,” said Dr Allen Albury, the company’s managing director. “In our country it’s very challenging for young businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses. You either give up or you have to fight. This company decided we will pool our energy and resources and continue to press despite the various challenges that we face.”
Making success possible, despite being blacklisted was the work of a small but powerful staff.
“We thank those individuals who blacklisted us from opportunities. If we were not blacklisted we would not be here today. We would still be a small home based business striping parking lots rather than airports, roads and [completing] international contracts,” said senior vice president of business development and company chairman, Dominic Sturrup.
“We want to now empower the next generation of Bahamians,” said the VP.
The Investment Group of Company Limited is expected to be launched within the next 60 days.
Mr Sturrup described the new venture as a cross between the government’s Self-Starter grant and the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund which invests in new or rapidly growing companies. The new investment company also has a healthy helping “of the Sturrup-Mitchell touch of doing business,” Mr Sturrup quipped.
“We are not just going to give them the money. This isn’t a grant. This is a business,” he explained. “That million has to go and come back and bring $5 million in 24 months.”
The plan is to provide successful recipients with the necessary expertise whether it’s in accounts, law, marketing, human resource and/or operations. Felix Stubbs is expected to chair the new company.
“Atario and I made a decision that we would take the resistance that we faced and [we would] be strong, be survivors and win,” said Mr Sturrup.
The economy of any country is dependent on small and medium sized businesses, said Mick Holding, a BSGC director.
Maria Attademo-Hirt, Bahamas representative for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) echoed similar sentiments.
“No country big or small can make it without committed private sector participation and this is what this company is about,” she said. “We are here to say count on us as a partner. I’m sure we’ll find a project to work together.”