Successful local investors credit workers’ contribution to their successTuesday, December 06, 2016
BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayberry Investments’ recent November monthly investor forum in New Kingston has won credit for allowing three local investors — Howard Mitchell, Harry Maragh and Peter McConnell — the chance to reveal how they successfully manoeured troubled business waters.
Maragh, chairman and CEO of Lannaman & Morris Shipping Ltd, and McConnell, managing director of Trade Winds Citrus Ltd, admitted that they worked with their companies before becoming owners, while Mitchell, a lawyer and former chairman of the National Housing Trust (NHT), started out investing in the Jamaica Lottery Company (JLC), which has since given way to the much more successful Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL).
The more than 100 investment-minded people who packed into the 80-chair conference room at the newly opened Marriott Courtyard Hotel in New Kingston expressed hope of similar successes in an extremely volatile business environment in Jamaica.
The executives showed that Jamaican investors are not so vain as to claim all the credit for their successes, actually have deep emotional links with their employees and are willing to share profits and other benefits with workers who are trained, willing to think and work on their own and willing to share in the failures, too.
"Nothing made me feel better than seeing a member of the team move up, and seeing them grow both financially and also in their own lives, to where life now means more to them," said McConnell, who represents a family of investors who have been closely connected to the agricultural sector for decades.
McConnell was even more candid when responding to Mayberry’s CEO Gary Peart’s question about the most critical ingredient in his success and the possibility of future investments.
"When I have the perfect team, then I will be ready to launch out elsewhere. I am not there yet. My team is significantly better than it was in 2012, and I do find myself dreaming and thinking of planning what’s next a lot more than I am used to. But that’s because I have a good team," he said.
"But there are still times when I have to go back into the trenches, and I realise there is still work to be done. So the one answer is the team. I have to have a team that I know doesn’t need my daily attention. So, the answer is human resource," he said.
McConnell stated that in his view "human capital is the most important of all capital".
He said that his first challenge at Tradewinds was getting rid of those workers he called "robots".
"I didn’t want robots. I want people who can think independently and work independently. So, my first task was to let them understand that I have a different management style and I want people who are going to take responsibility for their area and seek my help as to how to make it better. I think that giving people autonomy will motivate them," he told the forum.
Maragh — who bought out Lannaman & Morris Shipping from his partners, Vance Lannaman and Ainsley Morris in the 1990s, a decade after starting out as an employee — addressed the issue of his relationship with his staff.
"In business you don’t lie to your staff. Your financials shouldn’t be any secret to anybody, because when you stand in front of your staff at the end of a year and they are looking forward to an increase. If you make a profit don’t be shy to pay them... if you make a profit and show them, they will understand. If you don’t make a profit, they will understand that you can’t pay them, because you are not making any money," he stated.
"Once you are making money, treat your staff well. That’s the bottom line," Maragh insisted.
Mitchell said that for 33 years running packaging company Corrpak, he did not take a salary.
"My staff knew that. I showed my staff the books. I made my staff believe in me, because I believe in them and if I don’t believe in you (for example) you lied to me, there are consequences that follow from that. So, I take it that if you believe in people that way... my staff is from areas like from Seaview, Payneland, Greenwich Farm, and they have values and I can tell you that in many cases they are better values than some of the people for whom I have practised law," Mitchell stated.
The panellists were introduced by Mayberry’s investment adviser Jodie Ann Bennett. The vote of thanks was moved by executive investment advisor Karen Hall.