Forde loves a challenge
March was recognized as the month of the disabled in Barbados.
And like many able-bodied individuals, some people in the disabled community are still able to work.
Patrick Forde is one of those plying his trade – Forde’s Upholstery. Despite having no legs, the 41-year-old has been operating his business for the past 20 years.
And this year, despite the harsh economic circumstances and a drop in business, Forde added a new branch to his operations – F & J’s Shoe Repairs And Leather Craft, operated by Fay Forde.
Patrick said that in earlier years his business was “pretty smooth” but in recent years he had seen a drop in business due mainly to increased competition.
The Glebe Land, St George resident, who operates from his home, said, however, he has been able to stay on top of the competition by promoting his business more and doing “a good job so others can see”. He said some months were better than others.
“Since the recession, business has gone a little down in the sense that I am not getting a lot of work like before,” he said.
“I now get the majority of work around September going into the Christmas season but earlier up in the year, things are at a go-slow. I not only deal with cushions and footstools.
I also deal with car seats. I would get that work earlier up in the year,” he explained.
The entrepreneur said so as to not be at a disadvantage and in order to keep abreast of his competitors, he would also make sure to regularly check the prices in the market.
“I also tell my customers that if they cannot fit my price, we can adjust the price to suit their unique situation,” he added.
Patrick told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY: “I would not say that I am always good or perfect, but there is room for improvement. I am learning every day because every job is a different job and some of them can be very challenging, but learning from it helps me to build my knowledge about the products a lot more.”
The double amputee said one of his major challenges was the lack of transportation. Although he was stuck with some items for months, he said it was not a matter of customers not being able to pay.
“It is because of different circumstances. Not that the work is finished, but things needed to be done; either I am waiting for the customers to bring the material or I am waiting to get the material myself . . . one of my problems is [the lack of] transportation – that is a big problem for me to source my raw material,” he said.
The go-getter said while he did not have any immediate plans to expand his business, he was “looking at teaching other [people] about it so they too can start their own business and also help themselves in a sense”.
Patrick said he did not try to take all the work for himself. He explained that if he had “enough work to keep” him, he would refer some customers to other upholsterers.
“It is important because if you have a staff of five or ten and things slow, you will lay them off. But if you have someone who does the same thing you can, if they are not getting a lot of work, help them and they can help you as well . . . . That way everybody gets a piece of the cake,” he reasoned.
His favourite part of the job is doing automobile upholstery “because I like something that challenges me”, he said.
Fay said since she came on board in January this year, business has been “fair”.
“As a little business, I don’t expect a rush as soon as I start but gradually it will grow. The reception was okay when I started,” she said, adding that the location was good for that kind of business.