MONTEGO BAY, St James — At the age of 21, Yannick Sharpe had an "amazing" big dream of starting his own concrete business, but getting the idea off the ground had its challenges.
He was working for a company at the time and shared his idea, but before it could become a reality someone else ran with it.
The young man never gave up and with the assistance of his mother and the support of Barita Investments and Caribbean Cement Company, he was able to make his dream a reality with the launch of Amazing Concrete Finishes (ACF).
Following 11 years of success, the Kingston-based company, which is capable of transforming surfaces into a masterpiece by installing decorative coatings on all concrete surfaces including walkways, driveways, interior design areas, patios, decks, and pool areas, is now in massive expansion mode.
Addressing the grand opening ceremony for its first branch located at 5 Lower Bevin Avenue in Montego Bay on Saturday, Sharpe — who is also the company's managing director— revealed that ACF will be expanding further in Jamaica and across the Caribbean.
"We have plans to open our training institute to train local talents and provide jobs for individuals in the sector. We also plan to establish a location in Mandeville in central Jamaica and then our first regional operation in Guyana, which is the fastest-growing economy in the Caricom [Caribbean Community]," stated Sharpe.
"As I indicated earlier, we have faith in the future as there are other expansion plans in the line. But for today, I just want to thank you for being here and your continued support which means a lot to us," added Sharpe, who also thanked his team members and investors for their support over the years.
During the ceremony, speaker after speaker including Senator Janice Allen (People's National Party) who chaired the programme; industrial, and buildings solutions manager at Caribbean Cement Company, Andre Nelson; Member of Parliament for St James Central, Heroy Clarke; minister of state in the Office of the Prime Minister (Western Region), Homer Davis; and state minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Dr Norman Dunn, had high praise and commendation for Sharpe.
Dunn said he was captivated by the display and offerings of Amazing Concrete Finishes during the recently concluded Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (MBCCI) Expo 2022.
"I was walking around looking at all the booths and I came across Amazing Concrete. But I was walking with some other persons and we decided to continue walking to other booths and I said I wanted to go back to Amazing Concrete. The only booth I said I wanted to go back and see, not knowing I would be here today, of course. But I wanted to see that because there's something that struck me when I passed the booth apart from, of course, how the booth was decorated. There is something cutting-edge about the company. So, I wanted to go back and see for myself," said Dunn.
As the company makes plans to spread its wings into Guyana, the state minister is encouraging it to take advantage of an upcoming overseas trade mission planned by the Government.
"The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce will lead a trade mission to several countries next year including one to Guyana and we went to Guyana recently as well. And the minister is now assembling a larger team to go to Guyana where we will introduce Jamaican entrepreneurs to leaders of industry and potential commercial partnerships. And therefore we invite Amazing Concrete Finishes and other entrepreneurs… to participate in this mission," Dunn encouraged.
"Yannick, don't let this mission pass you. Your product is too great for it not to be shared with the rest of the world. Amazing Concrete Finishes are outstanding Jamaican products for export. Your technology lifts concrete from just a functional medium to one which is creative, aesthetically appealing, and durable. It is encouraging to see our entrepreneurs use available technology to give Jamaican consumers a superlative product operating with a common responsibility to safeguard consumers," added Dunn.
He also noted the importance of using approved quality products in the construction industry.
"The construction industry is a critical one as many times using substandard products can result in fatalities or at least costly repairs. The Bureau of Standards, Jamaica — one of our 20 agencies of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce — tests concrete to ensure that they are up to the standard. This includes ready-mix concrete, concrete aggregates, soil cement, adhesive, hollow concrete blocks, PVC pipe, and masonry units," stated Dunn.
"There are more than 88 standards which apply to this particular industry. Please use them, Yannick, to develop your product and ensure that your contractors are reputable suppliers. We owe a duty of care to the public to use safe and certified products. And, as you prepare to meet the demand of the local and international marketplace, you should also use the other services of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce such as the national certification body of Jamaica, the national compliance and regulatory authority," he urged.
The state minister also used the opportunity to encourage manufacturers and producers to take advantage of the Government's Productive Input Relief (PIR) scheme which is aimed at providing customs duty and Additional Stamp Duty (ASD) relief.
"The minister of industry, investment and commerce provides incentives for manufacturers and producers under a scheme called PIR, for you to gain preferential treatment with the imports that you have as a part of your productive operation. You get that relief. So please, do not hesitate to use it because it's there for you to use. You can get quite a bit of relief from some of these that you currently now have to bear so they can help us to ensure that your product meets the required standards for local and international markets. The Ministry of Investment and Commerce is your business ministry. We commit to using all available resources at our disposal to assist you and any other Jamaican business for sustainability and profitability," stated Dunn.
He said ACF's new location in Montego Bay, which boasts a showroom, "will bring your exciting portfolio of offerings to more clients and offer more choices to the consumer who wants to renovate their home and office spaces and provide more employment".
Over the years, the company has produced amazing work for companies such as Chukka Adventures, Barita Investments, iCreate, Windalco, General Food Supermarket, J Wray & Nephew, Flow, and Moon Palace Jamaica Grande.