Solomon’s got you covered
Two years after Glen Solomon set up his manufacturing company in Barbados he was contemplating calling it a day.
The orders were not coming into his Unique Aluminium & Canvas Awnings Company Ltd.
But instead of closing his doors and putting his three employees on the breadline, he heeded the advice people gave him and started offering cleaning and maintenance services.
“Business was pretty dead, pretty poor, and I got fed up and said I would go back home because I wasn’t getting much work.
“The grace of God helps me. I went to one or two hotels, Sandy Lane, Turtle Beach Hotel, the airport and one or two other places and started to mention maintenance and cleaning. From there, when I gave my business card, people said, ‘You actually make this? You actually do this?’ and I started to get work.
“I’ve been doing awnings from 1993 in Jamaica. I’ve been living here from 2005 and I started business here in Barbados in 2007,” he said.
He started out working from a shed at his home before moving to a container but knowing that people “don’t like to see a container at the back of your house”, eventually he rented a shop in the Belle while his office remains at his home.
Solomon’s work can be seen on Royal Shop and Mall 34 in The City and other businesses and hotels around the country, and although business has slowed considerably over the past three years, he is still “getting one and two jobs” from customers he had “from years ago” who recommend him.
As a youngster, Solomon heeded the call from his foster father to learn a skill and ventured into wood work but left after the dust started to affect him.
“Making awnings comes very easy to me. Growing up I always liked to make something, a picture frame, something.
“I always saw people doing awnings and as a boy, I said to myself I would like to do awnings myself . . . . I can look at something and grasp it in no time. I’m determined that way.
“We make awnings from scratch using aluminium, vinyl, and canvas. My motto is For Everything Under The Sun. Awnings is shade, storm shutters, blinds, canopies, tents, everything that covers and shades is under one umbrella. Barbadians say canopies or hoods, the Americans and Jamaicans say awnings.
“When I put an awning over a door or a window, it is not only there for one reason but four. First of all, it enhances the house, it gives value to the house, protect you from the rain, and the sun.
“So if you have a lot of sun coming into the house, if you put an awning over it, it automatically prevents the water from coming in.
“If you put an awning over a window, you can leave the window open while the rain is falling and get that light wind coming in,” Solomon explained.
The manufacturer said that Barbadians use fibre glass awnings because they like that traditional look, “that old look”, but that type is just about two feet in projection or about nine to ten feet wide so there is not much protection.
“With aluminium awnings they don’t rust and they last up to 16 years.
“With these awnings you can close it down like a storm shutter. For example, if a storm comes in the future you don’t have to get a board to put over the window, you can actually collapse the awning over the window and you have some storm brackets to the left and the right where you can bolt it down to prevent debris from hitting the window,” he said.
The materials used to manufacture the coverings come in an array of colours making it easy for the “customers to get whatever they want” for their residence or business. If a colour is not available it can be customised.
As for his plans for the future, he sees his company “just as big” as the other companies in this field.
“I’m getting there. I see it getting real big in Barbados but we don’t have that financial standing.
“I’m trying to save some money to get the business as well established in Barbados and probably two other Caribbean countries, away from Jamaica.
“By next year, I’m going to open in Jamaica officially. I’m looking to open in St Lucia and in St Vincent after Jamaica . . . . By next year, God willing, I hope I can have the office and the showroom at the Belle,” Solomon said. (GBM)