Thirty-eight year old antenna maker Chetwin Moriah has been making antennas for the past 20 years. From as early as 7am Moriah begins his work, and later takes the antennas to be sold at various locations across the country.
He told Sunday Stabroek that this is his primary occupation and despite the challenges he has encountered, the business has helped him to own his home and a vehicle, as well as maintain his children and send them to school.
Moriah, who said he never had any aspirations of becoming an antenna-maker, related that he had learnt the trade from Nawbert Fredericks who is a very close friend of his. He was just eleven years old when he first met Fredericks at the St Peter’s Anglican Church, Princes Street, and that he acquired knowledge of the trade within six months: “Fredericks was one of the best teachers you could think about… he took me to different places to make antennas to see if the channels catch clear.”
Moriah said the man was like a father to him and always encouraged him to put his hands to work. “I don’t ever forget the day when Fredericks told me that one day I will make people happy.” According to the antenna-maker, God had placed the man in his life to mentor and help him on his road to destiny. “As a young man growing up he watched me and saw that I had skills in my hands and fingers so he imparted that knowledge to me,” he said.
Reflecting on his humble beginnings, the antenna-maker said that when he first started making antennas he walked around to sell them: “We went to places like Diamond where I walked 21 fields back and forth – me, my wife and three kids. People know me well because of the amount of places I went to sell my antennas.”
After his proceeds started to increase, Moriah said that he purchased a motorcycle to make his job easier: “I buy the motorbike so that I could have covered more distance for the antennas to sell faster.” Within a five months period he was able to purchase his own car.
Moriah told Sunday Stabroek that he makes thirty-five antennas each day. “Because of my professionalism I take about fifteen minutes to make one antenna” he said. The most expensive material involved is aluminium tubing.
The antenna-maker gave praise to his wife Loretta Peters, who according to him is the backbone of his business. Peters can be seen in the Schoon Ord junction area (Demerara Harbour Bride junction) daily from 9am selling the antennas. “How you antenna selling?” one customers enquired as she patiently explained to another customer the two types of antenna and their cost. After his purchase the man carefully examined it and said, “This is what I was looking for; not them rest that selling that two three morning it ain‘t good.”
Peters said that she does not only help sell the antennas but also assists her husband in making them; he had taught her how to do it, she said. “My husband has passed on the tradition to his family,” she continued; “even our childen are versed at doing so.“
SN was given to understand that Moriah also engages in poultry rearing, especially whenever the proceeds from the business are very low.
One of the things which encourages the antenna-maker to continue in the trade is the satisfaction of his customers: “I does really feel nice when people say. ‘De thing working good brother.”
“You will meet all different type of people in this business… but if you can have a little patience and be kind to your customers they will encourage people to buy at you or they themselves would come back again to buy,“ he said. During the worst selling days he remembers that he has a family depending on him for their survival: “Some days business can be very slow but I always tell myself that even the worst of my days are still some people Christmas.”