LANNAMAN & Morris Group of Companies Chairman and CEO Harriat Pershad Maragh died suddenly on Sunday evening, plunging the local and international shipping community into shock and mourning for the man affectionately known as Harry and with whom they worked for well over four decades.
“It is difficult to speak of Harry Maragh in the past tense. His contribution and mentorship to the growth of the shipping industry and the people in it are deep and wide, not only in Jamaica but across the Caribbean and south Florida,” Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ) Chief Executive Officer Trevor Riley said in a tribute.
“The very essence of Harry Maragh was optimism; he was also one of the most creative people I knew. He and I spoke often, and in every conversation Harry came up with a new idea or a new set of ideas of something that could make good business or make Jamaica really take off economically. The result of this optimism and creativity were obvious. Harry was the epitome of business success,” added Riley, who shared a very close relationship with Maragh.
“He was also the standard for humility…a man from very humble roots who reached the pinnacle of personal success but who was truly able to walk with kings and maintain a common touch. I am happy to have called him friend. His impact on my life and that of so many others is lasting,” Riley said, and extended condolence to Maragh's wife Charmaine, daughter Racquel and son Ryan, as well as all the staff of his companies.
Charles Johnston, executive chairman of Jamaica Fruit & Shipping Company, noted that he and Maragh were competitors and friends.
“We met over 40 years ago and have worked together on many projects and policies that have made shipping better across the Caribbean and in Jamaica,” said Johnston, who also extended condolence to Maragh's wife and family.
Dido Suendermann, operations and logistics manager for Israeli line ZIM, expressed sadness at the news of Maragh's passing.
“We will always remember Harry as what he was — a stalwart of the shipping industry in Jamaica and a friend.
“Our deepest condolence and sympathy to his family.”
An announcement from Lannaman and Morris stated that Maragh's wife, Charmaine, will, with immediate effect, assume the role of chairman and will continue to be supported by the current management team.
“We are guided and committed by the wishes of Mr Maragh to continue to operate this business in the best interest of his principals, clients, staff and the shipping industry at large,” the company said.
“His presence and influence will be greatly missed by the many lives he has touched.”
William Brown, the current SAJ president, said Maragh was highly respected by colleagues in Jamaica and across the Caribbean shipping and business communities.
“He will be missed immensely by all those who had the pleasure of knowing him,” said Brown as he offered the SAJ's “most heartfelt condolence at this difficult time” to Maragh's family and his staff.
Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) President and CEO Professor Gordon Shirley described Maragh as a giant of the shipping industry.
“Harry was a supportive partner, advisor, developer and investor whose immense contribution made an indelible mark on the development of shipping locally and regionally,” Shirley said.
“Harry contributed to the industry in a number of capacities and through an extensive network of industry businesses and related interests. He has supported the PAJ through a number of roles, chiefly as chairman and chief executive officer of his flagship business Lannaman and Morris Shipping Limited which, as cruise terminal operator for over 40 years, handles all ship-related activities at the Ocho Rios Cruise Port under a management contract with the PAJ.
“Additionally, Lannaman and Morris is the shipping agent for some of the world's major cruise lines including Carnival Cruise, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Holland America, Costa Cruises and Aida Cruises, all which frequently call at our cruise ports in Jamaica. He also served the organisation as a member of PAJ's board of directors and as [a] member of the PAJ's subsidiary Ports Management [and] Security Limited board,” Shirley added.
“Harry was a visionary, shipping industry stalwart, trailblazer and astute businessman. He was naturally inclined to serve, had a keen eye for opportunities, and often leveraged challenges to create advantages and solutions. In light of his tremendous achievements, a notable hallmark of his leadership was his humility which underpinned his inclusive style of leadership. His passing will undoubtedly leave a noticeable void and he will be greatly missed. Nonetheless, we are heartened to have known him, benefited and made greater through his guidance, tutelage and mentorship,” said Shirley.
Grantley Stephenson, deputy chairman, Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL), described Maragh's passing as the end of an era.
“For so long Harry, an unassuming figure, loomed so large in the shipping industry and in the lives of all of us in the sector,” Stephenson said, describing Maragh as a true and faithful friend and brother to him throughout their more than 35-year friendship.
“I have always taken personal pride in Harry's achievements. I watched him make the transition from an employee at Lannaman and Morris to owning the company and transforming it into one of the most successful shipping agencies in Jamaica and the region. He was an astute businessman who worked hard and made tremendous sacrifices for all his accomplishments, helping many others along the way,” Stephenson said.
“A humble man who never forgot his modest roots, Harry was one of those persons of whom it could be said, 'He walked with kings, but never lost the common touch.' ”
Added Stephenson: “Shipping and the wider Jamaican business community have lost a giant. Harry's passing will leave a void that cannot be easily filled but he has left a legacy that will undoubtedly be carried on by those whom he mentored. My family and I will sorely miss him.”
In 2019, when the SAJ marked its 80th anniversary, it recognised Maragh for his outstanding professional accomplishments and ongoing contribution to the development of the Jamaican and Caribbean shipping industry.
A citation in his honour described him as a man who “possesses a disarmingly soft-spoken manner that belies the hard-driving businessman who scaled a steep ladder of success in his journey to leadership in the local and regional shipping industry”.
Noting that Maragh was a talented cricketer and brilliant Calabar High School graduate, the SAJ said he interrupted his university education overseas in the early 1970s, upon receiving news of his father's illness, to return to Jamaica and help support his family.
“He started with RS Gamble and moved on to become a validating/traffic clerk with Lannaman & Morris in 1977,” the citation stated, adding that Maragh was a fast learner and tireless worker, which resulted in him being promoted to sales representative, sales manager, general manager and managing director within a 10-year period.
After the retirement of the then owners of Lannaman and Morris, Maragh bought the firm and transformed it into the Caribbean's most diversified shipping company, which operated several other entities in the group – among them Metro Investments and Seafreight Agencies Jamaica.
Today Lannaman and Morris is the leading cruise agent, representing in excess of 75 per cent of all cruise lines that call on Jamaica.
At the time of his passing Maragh was chairman of the Kingston Port Workers Superannuation Fund, a post he held since 2003. He was also a director of Express Catering and Margaritaville Turks & Caicos.