Barbados Ambassador to CARICOM Robert Bobby Morris is giving thumbs up to L&N Workshop, manufacturer of bus and other vehicle bodies, as it prepares to enter the regional market.
The company has for years been fabricating and refurbishing trailers, trucks, and buses, including those of the Barbados Transport Board, and now has its sights on entering St Lucia, St Vincent, Grenada, and Antigua with its services next year.
Managing director Norman Edwards explained that with his plans all set to go,
he had invited the ambassador to familiarize himself with what was produced and how it was done at the plant, thereby placing Morris in a position to represent the product should there spring up barriers to trade with Barbados’ CARICOM neighbours.
“I don’t anticipate any,” Ambassador Morris said at the end a plant walk-around accompanied by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade chief economist Agard Evans on yesterday.
“There is room for him in CARICOM under the right of establishment. He has the opportunity to go down there and set up a business, if he wants to go St Lucia, if he wants to go to St Vincent. There is no hindrance as such to that,” Morris said after touring the St Thomas facility.
“The possible blocks would be standards; but he knows what standards he would have to obtain,” Morris said, and went on the explain that his familiarity with Edwards went back beyond the time the company built its first bus. So, the minister added, he could vouch for
the manufacturer as a stickler for standards. “We are talking of the importance of being what I call the STEM business: science,
technology, engineering and mathematics; and he knows the importance of meeting standards once you’re building.”
Morris expressed further confidence in the company’s products because he had been a union colleague with L&N General Manager Odain Jackman.
Morris stressed the importance of transportation to the region, and noted emphasis had been on air and sea movement.
“But road transport is also important, because it is about getting people to work, taking services around. It’s about getting manufacturers from one place to another. You have to transport them. He [Edwards] is showing he has the capacity to build almost any kind of transport that is required –– moving supplies, moving people, etcetera.”
Edwards said that his company was long planning its entry into CARICOM.
“We have been strengthening up our management side of the company, also strengthening our human resources on the floor. We want to make sure that our product is strong enough; that when it goes into those markets it will be able to stand the test of competition. We want to make sure that when we carry our product down there, we would have a working model on how we do things; not do things haphazardly and can’t survive in the market.” (GA)