Global vision reaps rewards
There is a way to beat the recession after all – overseas work.
A design and development management company established in Barbados 11 months ago to service the construction industry has had such a positive start to its operations that 85 per cent of its business is coming from foreign clients.
And it is doing so with a team of six Barbadian professionals whose average age is 28 and against larger international competitors, Argo Development Studio managing director David Campion told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY.
Speaking during an interview at his company’s Welches, Christ Church office, the Irishman said Argo was working on several overseas projects in ten countries, including the United Kingdom, Trinidad, St Lucia, and Grenada.
He recently returned from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where his company is providing design management services to British construction firm Kier on a new Marriott hotel.
“I would say 85 per cent of our work is overseas and we are looking to grow. I think that ratio is a healthy ratio if you look at the Barbados economy at the moment, but rather than decrease the 15 per cent in Barbados I want to increase my staff and keep pulling in work from abroad, keep building my team here,” he said.
“Because our industry here is struggling, Argo is going out to find the work and bringing it back to our talented workforce. When I said I was setting up my headquarters in Barbados, people told me ‘You are mad; you will go out of business in three months’, but when I explained my strategy of jumping on planes, going abroad, winning work and bringing it back, people were intrigued but still sceptical.
“That has worked so far. We are involved in projects in ten countries, some small projects but some have the potential to be quite significant,” he added.
Campion believed the overseas success was primarily due to the deliberate formula of not just being a “one-stop shop” for construction industry needs but proving it was possible to safeguard the project from concept to completion.
“To deliver projects to a level of excellence expected but also to programme and on budget and that’s essentially what clients desire, and those are the fears that clients have going into built asset projects. They fear delays, escalating budgets, and poor quality,” he noted.
“Barbados is obviously going through a difficult time, so I knew I would station my headquarters here, but most of my time would be on planes searching out work everywhere else and bringing that work back to the shores here and employing talented professionals here.
So that’s working well.”
Campion said he was also pleased to be able to provide employment opportunities for young Barbadian professionals, including architects, graphic artists, engineers, and design specialists.
In this regard, he pointed out that Argo was involved in an education outreach programme and had started a relationship with the Barbados Community College (BCC).
“We have started a relationship with BCC and have guest-lectured there to inform future graduates in architecture in Barbados about Argo and develop a relationship with them through work experience, et cetera. The idea is that Argo will be first in line to secure the services of these talented graduates,” he said.