Careers & Education

Sheldon Beckford on his business of waste

BY PETRE WILLIAMS-RAYNOR Career & Education editor williamsp@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 21, 2012    

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IN just four years, Sheldon Beckford — 'Shel' to his friends — has learnt the value of the words 'do what you love'.

Acting on the adage, Beckford, a 'clean freak' by nature, opted in 2008 to open the doors to DECS Waste Management Services Limited, now located off Half-Way-Tree Road in Kingston.

"I am obsessed with cleanliness and I believe that is a fundamental human need," the 38-year-old told the Jamaica Observer this past week.

Of course, there were some other practical considerations that helped to inform Beckford's decision to become an entrepreneur, having spent seven years in the banking sector and another eight working at various levels in private security.

"Based on what was available in the waste management industry, I realised that there was a need for a more responsive and reliable solution," he said.

"Based on the needs analysis of the marketplace, there was a void and a demand for better waste management solutions," added Beckford, who holds professional certification in supervisory management from the Institute of Management and Production, as well as in leadership, motivation and organisational change from the University of New Orleans.

The Brandon Hill, Mount Friendship District native was intent on filling that need.

With a staff complement of only eight, he got started, offering solid waste collection.

Fast forward four years and Beckford — with his 94-member team, including temporary and permanent staff — also offers confidential waste disposal, janitorial services and landscaping from a plant where they store their own diesel fuel for the fleet of 11 trucks.

Beckford — whose company also makes skips and recycle bins which they rent and sell to individual and corporate customers — said that his offerings range in prices from "as low as $275 per drum and increases based on the volume and nature of the waste to be collected".

Currently, the Kingston College old boy and Justice of the Peace said he is at a place where he has no regrets.

"I don't have any regrets; I instead see every challenge as a stepping stone and a guide as to approaching future endeavours," Beckford said.

And the businessman, who also has training in fraud examination, detection and forensic auditing from the Jamaica Institute of Management and security issues in hospitality from the University of Central Florida, has had some challenges.

To begin with, the $400,000 investment required to get the business going ate through Beckford's savings.

"It took every cent out of my savings," he said matter-of-factly.

Beyond that, Beckford said he encountered difficulties faced by most fledgling businesses in Jamaica, as elsewhere in the world.

"The challenges affecting a new business are many and varied, ranging from regulatory to bureaucratic red tapes. There is also very little support from central government," he told Career & Education.

And there continues to be hurdles that he has to cross.

"One major challenge is that the Jamaican workforce does not have a pool of skilled workers. That is, it is plagued with poorly educated and untrained personnel," Beckford said.

However, true to form, he has opted to tackle them head on.

"We offer in-house training for all staff members in collaboration with the HEART Institute," said Beckford, who adopts a similarly straight-forward and results-oriented approach to overcoming other challenges.

There is little wonder why.

DECS' mission statement, he said, notes that it is "committed to being Jamaica's leading comprehensive sanitation solutions provider by supplying a competent and motivated workforce using the best tools and products in order to secure values and satisfaction for our stakeholders and clients".

The next stop for entrepreneur is recycling — a garbage management option deemed increasingly critical for Jamaica, which has seen an exponential growth in the importation of plastics in recent years.

"Recycling is the way for the future and I intend to become greatly involved," Beckford said.

Beckford's tips for prospective entrepreneurs

* It is imperative that you have an appetite for risk taking.

* You must have need to succeed.

* Remain focused and goal-oriented.

* Honesty and integrity must be the mainstay of all aspects of your business.

* Respect for persons, including staff, suppliers, clients, and the competition is critical.

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