Farewell Alfred W Knight – professional accountant, businessman, entrepreneur, leader and sportsman of Sheraton Park, Christ Church. So, in times of transition, how should Barbados, in general, and the manufacturing industry in particular remember and celebrate Knight?
Knight shared his vision for manufacturers in the guest editorial of the May 1988 publication of the OUTPUT – the manufacturers’ business magazine – themed Growing Pains Often Promote Growth.
Knight said: “Barbados has as good an environment for the production of quality goods as one could want. Many countries would certainly welcome our literacy rate and labour force which has the benefit of a well-balanced educational system, including both technical and other training programmes.”
Knight used an international company as an example and posited: “Within seven years, Intel, through the utilization of existing resources, was able to make products whose quality was comparable with international requirements of the semi–conductor field.”
Knight went further and concluded that the fundamental question that manufacturers must address is this: Are manufacturing companies adequately served in terms of market information, planning data, labour management skills, capital and other funding?
Knight, the president of the Barbados Manufacturers Association, went further and put another question to manufacturers: “Why do many consumers often express surprise when they learn that a product of quality was made in Barbados?”
Truth be told, under the leadership of Knight, the annual BMEX exhibition was in transition. Indeed, it launched a Best Buy Bajan campaign that included the tourist industry and it defined Best Buy Bajan as quality products, competitive prices, excellent packaging, job creation, foreign exchange savings and industry growth.
Late last year, when reminded of the above campaign, Knight remarked: “I still have that logo on my brief case.”
Thirty years after Knight contended that a new perspective is needed, one may ask why is it that public conversations remain the same.
In the same edition of OUTPUT, Mary Beckles, a communication consultant, may have given one reason in a feature article on Letchworth Press. She wrote, in part:
“Letchworth Press didn’t start big. At its inception, it had a staff of two – founder the late Henry Frank Shearn, and his son, John Shearn, the current Managing Director. For the first five years, father and son experienced many of the initial hurdles and unexpected challenges associated with staring a small family business. Without a supply of trained labour, they had to function in all occupational areas within the company.” Clearly, big ideas start small.
Alfred Knight also held posts of general manager of Purity Bakeries Ltd. and managing director of Wonder Bakeries. He was a past president of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Jaycees.
Walter Edey is an author and retired Educator who believes that structural thinking is the new wave of the future.
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