Ironing out wrinkles one by one

Marlon Madden,

Added 25 December 2012

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IT COULD definitely be said that Delisle Stoute is a man who follows his dreams. And while no part of his operations is easy, the 35-year-old owner of Pioneer Groups Investors Limited was prepared to face his challenges head-on. Pioneer Groups Investors Limited is a family-owned business offering services such as site clearing, preparing foundations, excavation, trucking and machine-shop services. There are also ZR, ZM and taxi operations. Stoute wanted to go into farming while in secondary school but changed his mind over time. And following his studies in masonry, auto mechanics and mechanical, and plant maintenance at Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, he started his business in 2002. He began by operating a taxi and later added other services. The entrepreneur told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY he also hopes to add building design and concrete services to his suite of offerings. The young businessman explained that his biggest struggle was getting “everything to come together and have it flowing”. He currently employs five people on a part-time basis, “depending on the level of work available”. Despite the number of challenges he faces, Stoute said he was prepared to iron them out, adding that he had a process for accessing assistance or doing business with Government agencies as avenues for more clients. “The kind of red tape that you have to go through to capture some of the opportunities, by the time that the process passes, it is too late – the opportunity [is] gone. That is my major challenge now,” he said. “What frustrates me is that they say they are offering this and offering that, but [with] the very red tape that you have to go through to get your operations up and running, it is not easy,” lamented Stoute. He also complained about the high import duties. Those costs, Stoute said, could cripple his operations over time if they were not addressed. Regarding his ZR operations, Stoute admitted that it was perhaps the most profitable arm of the business, but not without its headaches. “It is not running fully because of the high costs associated with [getting] parts and maintenance. “The other thing that affects that operation is the behaviour in the ZR stands. Government needs to address that.   “If it was better regulated, it would cut down on the problems that ZR owners get as well as workers and travellers,” said Stoute, adding that over his five years in operation, one of his ZR drivers had been the victim of bullying by other ZR drivers.  The public transport operator insisted that it was time authorities were more vigilant and strictly enforced the law. Admitting that the current business environment was challenging due to the global recession, Stoute said he saw room for improvement and possible expansion in some areas of his operations. Moreover, he was confident that he could provide employment for more that the five who currently work for him part-time. “Sometimes I have to turn down work because I cannot manage all the work myself. So expanding would allow me to employ more people full time and I won’t have to turn back people,” said Stoute. “The demand is there but people just don’t have the funds to do what they want because they had less cash flow at the start of the recession and that continues to be the problem,” he explained. Earlier this year Stoute invested in agriculture equipment and said that despite his issues, he was just following his dreams and “fulfilling the need for these services on the island”. “I wanted to branch out and capitalize on that,” said the father of two. “There is room for a lot of improvement because the demand is there for sure. I hope by next year I would be sound enough to do a lot more promotions. “I am not really worried about the competition because once I give good service, that is the bottom line,” he added.

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