By Kiana Wilburg
In an economy that remains quite susceptible to external shocks, one company
— DHL/Guywillship — continues to demonstrate nothing but maximum confidence in the viability of Guyana’s business environment.
This corporation, which represents the marriage between two shipping giants, has been serving the Guyanese populace and its supporters abroad for almost 29 years.
The entity’s ability to withstand the trials of the passing times can be attributed to several factors, not least of them, the ingenuity and the dauntless spirit of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mrs. Ingrid Bristol.
The DHL/Guywillship establishment which is housed under one roof in Fifth Street, Alberttown recently underwent massive renovations costing over $150M. But to appreciate the magnitude of this investment, one must look to its beginning.
In 1988, DHL Worldwide Express, which operated an international air express network, identified the Guianas (Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana) for expansion. Soon enough, the DHL Express franchise, owned by Bristol, became the first courier service to enter the Guyana market. Additionally, Guyana was the first of the three Guianas to be operational in the expansion programme.
In the first two months of operation, only inbound service was provided, while legal and administrative arrangements were being addressed. It can be said that the 1990s was a period that shaped the company radically.
In 1990, DHL Guyana acquired its first motorized transportation, a van, for ground transportation. The response at the time to the company was overwhelming and the company responded in turn by investing in more motorized transportation and employing more personnel.
But trouble soon same. DHL’s presence and right to operate was challenged in 1991, after a question was raised in the press regarding the handling of mail and parcels within the borders of Guyana by a body other than the Guyana Postal Services. But after representation by the Commercial Office of the Embassy of the USA, the then President Hugh Desmond Hoyte signed an instrument to legalize DHL’s local operations.
In 1992, DHL purchased a property situated at 50E Fifth Street Alberttown to establish an office to facilitate its servicing of a growing clientele in Guyana. In 1993, the network responded to its rapid growth by flying DHL aircraft into Guyana with a daily operational schedule of Monday to Friday.
In 1994, the company expanded its service borders through the establishment of offices in New Amsterdam, Corriverton, Berbice and Linden. By the close of the decade, DHL Express had expanded from being a single rented room space with four employees to having nationwide offices employing over 40 citizens.
By 2000, the company saw some changes in the market place. The rise of the internet,
the presence of competition in Guyana and the changing priorities and needs of customers meant that businesses had to retool and respond accordingly.
DHL did so by leaps and bounds. In fact, the company began updating its equipment and services as part of its modernization programme. Even though the resilience of the entity was tested, it pulled through as an unstoppable champion in the market place.
With DHL under its belt, the franchise holder decided to establish ‘Guywillship’ which was officially established in 2000 at 49 Brickdam, Georgetown. This company catered for fast and affordable shipping to the Caribbean as well as to the rest of the world. It also provided custom brokerage services and agency services for its foreign associates.
By 2008, the company launched its international office in New York, USA. In 2009, it was rebranded Guywillship International. Three years later, it was servicing several Caribbean destinations out of New York. With its marked successes under the sterling guidance of its CEO, Guywillship can now boast that it is a household name in its native land.
NEW AND IMPROVED
It was on January 14, that DHL /Guywillship had its official opening and dedication ceremony for its spanking new building.
At the auspicious event, Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin expressed how happy he was to see local companies investing, expanding and or remodeling. He said that it signals not only their assurance in the economy, but also their desire
to remain relevant and competitive.
Gaskin said that these are two important factors in the success of businesses in any sector in any part of the world.
With that in mind, he congratulated the owners, directors, management and staff of DHL Express and Guywillship on the opening of the new building which he said, “is brightening up Alberttown and demonstrating to the world that they mean business.”
The CEO for both companies is Mrs Ingrid Bristol. The Directors for DHL include Maurice John Sr, Maurice John Jr., and Donald Bristol. Head of Operations at Guywillship International is Gavin Welcome. Syreeta Welcome is in charge of operations at the Guywillship office in Guyana.
The Minister of Business asserted, “I was interested to learn that the founders of DHL started out by using air mail to deliver shipping documents around the world so that they arrived at the various customs offices before the freight, and enabled processing to begin prior the physical arrival of the goods. Those of course were the days before email and fax machines. But this was an earlier indication of a company that was adaptable and forward thinking.”
He continued, “Of course the company is one of the world’s leading international air express service providers. It was sold to ‘Deutsche Post’, a German Courier and together they form the world’s largest courier company with an annual turnover of more than twenty times Guyana’s GDP. So certainly as the local retail partner you have the comfort of knowing that you’re partnering with a giant in the international industry.”
The Business Minister added, “The need to ship things around the world quickly and efficiently will always exist and companies that provide this kind of service play an important part in keeping the wheels of business turning in most economies.”
In this regard, Gaskin pointed out that it is one of those critical services on which businesses rely and millions of packages and parcels are collected and delivered every day around the world by courier companies.
Gaskin stated that good logistics is the key to being able to provide these services. He said that one cannot last in this type of business unless you have top notch systems in place to handle the volume of transactions that are demanded globally.
Like most industries in most economies, the Business Minister said that the shipping industry is driven by consumption or consumerism and this particular business DHL Express or Guywillship is no different.
He noted that the government supports local enterprise because it recognizes the value of investments and the employment opportunities that businesses create and the taxes that businesses pay.
“As a government therefore we have no desire to see businesses fail in Guyana and we have every reason to want our businesses to succeed and this is why we support business growth and development and why we are interested in seeing new investments take place,” Gaskin stated.
He continued, “But we are also cognizant of the realities of our economy, and we understand that the biggest factor in whether or not businesses are successful is the state of the local economy, and in particular, the amount of money circulating in our local economy.”
The Business Minister added, “I have been hearing since I came into office about twenty months ago that money is not circulating in our economy and that people are not spending the way they used to. I have no reason to disbelieve this, because when we examine the few industries that bring money into our economy, we realize that they are not doing as well as they ought to.”
While this is mostly due to lower prices on international markets, the politician said that it still affects citizens here and all would need to take action to reduce the vulnerability to fluctuating global market prices for commodities.
“And one of the things that we need to do is to start producing more and start exporting more so that more money comes into our economy and more money stays in our economy,” the Business Minister asserted.
In that way, Gaskin said that there will be more money circulating and being spent locally and therefore more local businesses making bigger profits and hiring more people and reinvesting those profits in expansion projects.
He added, “And of course paying more taxes and VAT so that our government can provide better services and we can all enjoy better living conditions.”
In addition to congratulating the owners of the business on the opening of its new premises, Gaskin left one simple message for them to ponder.
“In today’s consumer world let us be more conscious of what we consume and let us be more aware of what we produce right here in Guyana and let us consume more of what WE produce, so our Guyanese producers can develop and grow and one day become world leaders just like DHL.”
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