Hector Headley: Knife sharpener

At a stall in Bourda Market, a well-dressed man with head bowed stands at a grinding stone, passing a knife’s blade over it.  Outside, sits a young woman who is filing and smoothing the surface of a handle. On the outer wall of the stall hang saws, knives, screwdrivers and even a chopper. This place is Hector Headley’s business.

Headley has made the sharpening of knives, scissors, saws and cutlasses his occupation for the past 21 years. After he resigned from his job, he decided to use his skill to sharpen implements, but had no idea that his business would become innovative. His only motivation at the time was to earn his daily bread.

“Whatever can be sharpened, I do it,” he said, adding that when a customer brings an item to hone, he goes to great lengths to get it done.

When he started, there was no electricity in the market and all he had was a bench to sit on and a workbench for his grindstone. With a little help from neighbouring stallholders, however, he was able to solve his electricity problems.  These were the butchers, who were nonetheless a bit sceptical about his service. However, this quickly changed.  They have been his clients for many years, especially during the Christmas season when they are too busy to sharpen their knives themselves.

In order to get people interested, on the first day Headley offered his services free of cost.  He said about 25-30 persons showed up. The next day, an even greater number appeared.  However, when they turned up on the following day, he informed them that he could not offer his services free any longer.

Hector Headley as he sharpens a knife in his Bourda market stall

Nevertheless, he said that there has always been a good response to his service.  There have been periods where demand has dropped, but he stuck it out through those times. “I have been satisfied with response, there was no need for me to feel disappointed,” he said.
His steady flow of customers, he believes, comes from the way he interacts with his them together with his quality of work. “We give you the edge,” is the motto of his business. He said that he is always willing to go the extra mile to satisfy his customers.

Over the years, Headley noticed that when customers brought their knives to be sharpened, many of them were without handles. As a consequence the idea was born to replace handles as well.  “This was not my original intention; innovation is just part of the business,” he said.

He only had to work out what medium he would use, since he wanted to find a material which would be durable. The idea of PVC piping came to him through a friend and he experimented with it.  After finding that it could be successfully cut, heated and flattened, it became part of the business. “I had no knowledge of that before. Simplicity is the best approach to life.” His female assistant is the one who replaces the handles.

The sharpening of saws was also an area which was new to him.  But once he was requested to do it by a customer, he got it done, and now the sharpening of saws is “big business.” Headley adds a personal touch to his work by engraving the customers’ names on the blades of knives they bring him.

“As long as I can earn something, I am very satisfied with that,” Headley said; “One good job will bring 4-5 customers, therefore the need to always do your best.”  He said that an important ingredient in running a business is being respectful of customers.   Human dignity, he continued, is rare in society and something that we need to preserve.

Meanwhile, the art of sharpening has been taught to his five daughters.  He said that one had opened a stall in Stabroek Market which was operational for about four years before she became a missionary and it was closed: “I don’t have to worry; there will be someone to carry on when I’m gone.”

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Public financial management: 1966 – present (Final)

This is the fifth and final in a series of articles on the above aimed at highlighting the extent of our achievements in the post-Independence period.

LUCAS STOCK INDEXThe Lucas Stock Index (LSI) rose 0.54 per cent during the third period of trading in June 2016. The stocks of six companies were traded with 79,573 shares changing hands. There were three Climbers and one Tumbler. The stocks of Banks DIH (DIH) rose 1.98 per cent on the sale of 18,757 while the stocks of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) rose 5.26 per cent on the sale of 41,667 shares. In addition, the stocks of Demerara Tobacco Company (DTC) rose 1.51 per cent on the sale of 13,603 shares. In contrast, the stocks of Demerara Bank Limited (DBL) fell 5.26 per cent on the sale of 4,324 shares.  In the meanwhile, the stocks of Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (BTI) and Republic Bank Limited (RBL) remained unchanged on the sale of 222 and 1,000 shares respectively.

Massy and Guyana (Part 1)

Steadfast Last year, this writer looked at the Massy Group of Companies formerly Neal and Massy to gain an understanding of the operations of this company which has been doing business in Guyana for the past 48 years. 


Value-added performance of the forest sub-sector: Erratic, weak, declining

Erratic Last week’s column highlighted what I consider to be a most distinctive feature of the extractive forest sub-sector’s performance in Guyana’s economy, during the past decade.

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The UK bids Europe farewell

On June 23 by a small majority, the British people voted to remove themselves from the European Union (EU). The decision has consequences for the Caribbean.

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What would life be without sport?

I wonder what it would be like to exclude sport completely from one’s life for, say, one year? No playing sport, no watching it, no reading it no discussing it no thinking about it even.

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Brexit: Lessons for Caricom

The results of the referendum held in Britain to determine whether or not it should remain in or leave the European Union (EU), has been won by voters who supported the leave option.

Director of Sport Christopher Jones and President of the Guyana Chess Federation Irshad Mohammed (centre) stand with some members of the 2016 Guyana Olympiad chess team. The team travels to Baku, Azerbaijan, for participation at the Olympiad in September. A signature qualifying tournament was not held to determine the members of Guyana’s Olympiad chess team.

Federation picks chess Olympiad team without holding qualifier

The Guyana Chess Federation (GCF) has decided upon a 2016 Guyana Olympiad chess team without hosting a qualification competition to determine the competence of its participants.

Quamina Farrier

Heavy on historic significance, Journey to Freedom failed as a musical

Several Guyanese plays of historic significance were recently staged at the Theatre Guild and National Cultural Centre as part of a Jubilee festival.


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