…company awards long standing, loyal employees at dinner
By Rabindra Rooplall
Described as a man of integrity and honour by his staff, Executive Chairman of Gafsons Industries Limited, Sattaur Gafoor, who is at the helm of one of the largest hardware industries, rewarded the company’s loyal employees this week at a dinner in the Savannah Suite, of the Pegasus Hotel.
Mr. Gafoor himself has dedicated 55 years of service to the company which his father started. In attendance were dozens of employees who had served for periods ranging from 10 years to five decades.
Twenty-seven persons were recognised for 10 years’ service, 21 with 15-years’ service, 23 with 20 years’ service, nine with 25-years’ service, one with 41years service and another with 45 years’ service.
Some of the senior staff of Gafsons who were recognised for their “invaluable” contributions to the development and the growth of the company, included Nizam Ali who has been with the company for 41years and is also a director; Michael Daniels who has been with the company for 18 years and is the finance controller; Aussie Hussein who has been with the company for 20 years and is the Company Secretary; Mohammed Ali who was former Chief Executive Officer of Gafsons and has been with the company for 16 years and the longest serving employee.
The charismatic, yet simple business pioneer entertained his guests with dinner, gifts, laughter and words of encouragement.
Acknowledging Gafsons as one of the largest private sector companies with almost 1,000 employees, Mr. Sattaur Gafoor said that the business sector will face new concerns in the New Year, and more prudent management and foreign investors are needed by Government.
“The progress Guyanese looks forward to, will not be realized unless there are foreign investors and more prudent management by Government. Guyanese by themselves without foreign support will not be able to make the real growth that will sustain the ambitions of our young growing population, many of whom see the alternative as migration.”
He said that some of the problems that confronted the company are smuggling, which creates havoc in the business community and the inordinate long time in getting customs entry passed resulting in sales loss and additional costs.
“There is the mushrooming of Chinese businesses that seemingly do not comply with VAT regulations, labour regulations or minimum rates of pay.”
The company’s after tax profit fell by eight per cent compared with 2013. Mr Gafoor said this is the result of very large discounts that the company had to give in order to maintain a share in the market because of unfair competition.
“Notwithstanding, the company still saw it possible to give an increase in bonuses above that of last year…I wish to thank all of the workers who through dedication, and who through unselfish sacrifice have made 2014 a successful year, we wish them and their families a very Merry Christmas and a great 2015.”
Meanwhile, administrator of the Gafoor Foundation, Mrs. Ameena Gafoor said, she started off with the company in 1963 and has been there through its stages of growth and Gafsons is fortunate to have a core of dedicated employees who virtually carry the business daily with their honest and sterling performances.
“We are very appreciative of the loyalty of our employees, their commitment and hard work has allowed us to assist others who are in need and deserving of our help. We have been doing this quietly for the last two decades, and it’s your collective commitment that allows us to help others,” Mrs Gafoor emphasised.
Mr. Gafoor’s son, Omar Gafoor, who is responsible for the management of Gafsons Caribbean Enterprises in three islands for the last 15 years, said that the season brings obligations, but at the end of it all, with goals and objectives being reviewed, there is also need for personal introspection.
“Have I set education standards? Have I set to improve myself as a person? When you cash that cheque in the bank, that’s it, it’s just money. How does that benefit you? The challenge to the awardees is how the awards will benefit you.”
Gafsons has a revolving fund called the Small Business Development Finance Trust Inc. for employees who have ideas and potential to invest in their own businesses in urban and rural communities. The Trust is also available to assist small agricultural farmers, which in turn, creates employment.
As the loans are being repaid, a revolving fund is created where others with vision can apply for a loan, which creates an environment to promote entrepreneurship.
The Small Business Development Finance Trust Inc. has given $150M in loans to over 600 persons. Gafoor’s lucky break came in 1957 when Premier Cheddi Jagan abolished the licensing requirements for the importation of most goods, and Gafoor imported directly from then Socialist bloc countries, such as Romania, Czechoslovakia, Poland and East Germany.
In November 1959, when Sattaur Gafoor left school, he joined his father’s business. The company flourished and was extended to two other locations within the city, at Broad Street and Sussex Street.
In 1971, then Prime Minister, Forbes Burnham imposed licencing restrictions, which banned the importation of finished goods without a valid import licence.
The business grew steadily, and in January 2002, all operations were centralised at the Houston Complex, which now boasts the administrative block and a modern shopping mall.
The company has also established retail outlets at Parika and Rose Hall, Berbice. Gafsons Industries Limited is run by a Board of Directors, which includes no Gafoor family member. It has already started a middle-class housing complex of more than 200 homes across the Demerara River.
The company has also just completed a $ 1.5 billion modern housing facility at Cummings Lodge, which is being rented to members of the diplomatic community.
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