Editorial

Appliance Traders at 50 – 'Butch' Stewart's gift to Jamaica

Sunday, June 03, 2018

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We have, in this space, delighted in loudly trumpeting the achievements of a multitude of organisations and individuals over the years, while choosing sobriety and even shyness in recognising our own, as befitting the respect we enjoy as a national newspaper.

But we suspect that even our most ardent critics will cut us some slack if on this occasion of the 50th anniversary of Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) we bask a little in the towering contribution that this company has made to Jamaica and the countless lives it has touched, enriched and transformed.

On June 1, 1968, fifty years ago last Friday, Mr Gordon “Butch” Stewart launched ATL at Caledonia Avenue in Cross Roads, Kingston, moving shortly after to the current space at 35 Half-Way-Tree Road.

ATL would become the cradle for a slew of iconic brands known globally for the quality they bring to Jamaican households and the liberating effect, notably for women, by eliminating the traditional drudgery associated with operating a home and office.

From the sale of air conditioners, ATL has evolved to offer products and services through home appliances, commercial appliances, computers and tablets, televisions, audio, fans, energy systems, business solutions, generators, water solution systems and parts.

Bearing the mark of its owner, ATL has become one of the most recognised companies in Jamaica as a top-flight organisation, its red and blue logo synonymous with reliability and carrying the Stewart guarantee of quality service.

Beyond its products, ATL has also spawned a group of companies — Sandals Resorts International, BML, ATL Automotive, Honda Motors, and the Jamaica Observer among them — that have also become household names in Jamaica and far offshore.

It is always going to be difficult to separate the culture of an organisation from the business DNA of its owner, and ATL is no exception. Stewart's modus operandi is to give the customer more than what they expect.

From its early beginnings, ATL has bolstered its operations with a consistent training regime that now benefits from the group's Corporate University, in which an employee can enter with little formal education and rise to degree level.

Moreover, as a centrepiece of its staff-centred policy, the company operates one of the most successful pension schemes, setting an example to the rest of the country on how to reward the contribution of its thousands of employees.

Stewart has insisted that ATL operates not only as a private company seeking profits, but as a Jamaican entity fully cognisant of its role in the country's development as part of its corporate responsibility.

Stewart can be well pleased to witness the fruits of his vision, passion, talent, and love of country and people which all come together in Appliance Traders Limited, his personal gift to Jamaica.

To have survived 50 years in one of the toughest business environments, including the volatile 1970s — notorious for the lack of access to foreign exchange — is no mean achievement.

The celebration of ATL's 50th anniversary is also a celebration of its resilience and inevitably the iron will, the testicular fortitude and the indomitable spirit of Mr Gordon “Butch” Stewart.

Happy 50th birthday, Appliance Traders.

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