Karni Paton and Sean Thompson, the husband and wife team that has established the Emporium Investments Bureau Inc in Guyana are seeking to, among other things, infuse an enhanced work ethic into the local construction sector, prepared, they say, to back their confidence in their ability to turn things around by offering extended warranties on the structures they deliver to their clients.
You might think that it is a decision that could easily backfire given what, sometimes, is the ‘dodgy’ reputation that the local construction industry sometimes leaves behind. The two and their small team think differently. They are, they say, prepared to invest the time and effort to persuade their sub-contractors that there is virtue in professionalism and in delivering high-value jobs to their clients.
With an Operations Head Office situated at 17 Brickdam and Sendall Place, Emporium Investments is governed by a Board of Directors led by Karni as the company President and Chief Executive Officer. Sean, a UWI-trained Civil Engineer, whose work is known in both Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, is a critical part of the operational technical brains thrust behind the operation of the company.
Emporium, the Company’s Chief Executive Officer says, is under no illusions regarding its mission in Guyana. They understand that there is work to be done.
While it seeks to form partnerships with skilled persons in the various sub-sectors, it is, Karni says, not afraid to spell out its expectations of its partners. She communicates a disposition which unmistakably makes the point that as far as standards are concerned its Emporium’s way or the highway.
Emporium’s marketing pitch takes unerring aim at challenges that have for years bedevilled the local construction sector. Not only are their structures designed to resist being engulfed in flames for up to five hours, they lay claim, as well, to resistance to hurricanes, mold and termites. Those virtues apart, homes built by Emporium, Karni says, are designed to save energy, and are equipped with thermal insulation.
Emporium has borrowed its service culture, the CEO says, from the demanding environment of Trinidad and Tobago, where she insists that far fewer compromises are countenanced than here in Guyana where the construction sector faces some glaring challenges.
Sean told Stabroek Business that part of Emporium’s mission is to contribute to changing the image of the service sector and that as it happens the opportunity has arisen in the construction sector. He said that Team Emporium is aware of some of the challenges facing the local construction sector, not least, customer complaints over shoddy work in circumstances where they have little recourse. Emporium, Karni says, seeks to redress that balance by offering customers “a contract” that provides them with recourse in the event of a justifiable complaint.
Keene Mitchell, as UK-trained Electrical Engineer serving with Emporium told Stabroek Business that his association with Emporium derives largely from his appreciation of their mission. “When we talk with sub-contractors one of the things that we will be looking for is their adherence or otherwise to the building codes of the country.”
The immediate significant challenge before Emporium is the successful completion of the 29-home phase one of the New Hope Gated Community. The company’s first major project in Guyana will, Mitchell says, be seeking to establish a benchmark, with its focus not only on sound and secure homes but on amenities that include a supermarket, an ATM service and solar power-driven electricity. Potable water, roads, street-lighting and drainage are part of the infrastructure that will attend the project. “In a sense there will be a message in the project about what we can do and where we think Guyana needs to go,” Mitchell says. Once the first part of the project is ‘done and dusted,’ the second phase, the construction of a further 129 houses will commence.