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Peter Dupuch is the president of ERA. Buying and selling property for more than 20 years, he is a former director of the Bahamas Real Estate Association and holds the elite distinction of Certified International Property Specialist. Peter is also a commercial pilot and once worked for Bahamasair.
Guardian Business: What is the biggest challenge facing your business or sector? What measures need to be taken in The Bahamas to solve it?
Peter: The two biggest challenges that I have in my business:
1. Maintaining and managing our website and keeping it competitive in the search engines. It's a never-ending effort. I told somebody the other day, "I remember when I used to sell real estate. Now I do websites."
2. The increased government stamp tax. It's prohibitive to investment and commerce and it's unfair to the lowest income sector. Their stamp tax was doubled from 2 percent to 4 percent overnight for property under $25,000. Facts show that it's stifling the real estate market. Moreover, property tax rates are astronomical and modes of valuation seem random and antiquated.
We should be trying to stimulate a lagging economy (especially in the Family Islands) by facilitating the purchase of residential single-family properties. Instead we double the tax rates of those who can least afford it.
GB: How has your business or sector changed since the financial crisis?
Peter: The real estate business was one of the hardest hit by the financial crisis worldwide, but luckily we weren't hit as hard as our colleagues in other parts of the globe. Because our banks lent money more conservatively than abroad, we didn't have a complete real estate collapse. But we suffered because the foreign markets suffered, especially the U.S. market. But I feel blessed. My business has remained strong throughout the years.
GB: Can you describe a life experience that changed how you approach your work today?
Peter: Learning to fly 31 years ago changed my life forever. As a kid I dreamed of flying, but was scared to death of getting in a plane. On my first introductory flight in a little sardine can with wings, I was so scared. I reconciled with myself that I was going to die and I just accepted it. I've never looked back since that day.
I went from a first time pilot to a commercial pilot in seven months and eventually was hired by Bahamasair and flew their B737s. I still fly today and feel as comfortable in a plane as I do on my couch.
Flying has taught me to take calculated risks, set goals, to not be distracted by things I can't control, but to be competent and knowledgeable about the things I can control. It's taught me to concentrate, to prioritize and to take life head on. Learning to fly gave me the confidence to do anything I put my mind to.
GB: What are you currently reading?
Peter: I read a lot. Right now I'm just finishing "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett. I read more fiction than non-fiction. But, I like non-fiction that relates to business. One such books I read recently was "Steve Jobs", the biography. He was driven! Was he a good boss? I wouldn't have wanted to work for him. But he was the most successful businessman in history - and against immeasurable odds. He was confident, competent and knew everything about his industry.
GB: Has the high cost of energy hurt your business? What solutions have you initiated or considered to combat it?
Peter: No, the high cost of energy hasn't hurt my business as much as other factors. Luckily we are a small footprint and don't burn a lot of energy. But I'm an impulsive light extinguisher. I'm famous for plunging our lunch room into darkness not realizing that people are eating in there.
GB: What makes a great boss? What makes a bad boss?
Peter: A good boss listens. I am guilty of being hard headed when I feel sure about something, but a good boss cares about his employees and tries to make the workplace a fun, fair, and happy environment. Most of my workmates went to school with me and we are lifelong friends. We're a team. Like family. We talk openly; we argue passionately. We have fun. But we work hard. We work together and we look out for each other. Our weekly sales meetings are loud and emotional but we're always laughing. I'm not saying I'm a good boss, but my team stands beside me.
GB: If you could change one thing concerning business in The Bahamas, what would it be?
Peter: I've never done business anywhere else so I don't have anything to compare it to. But, in my sector, I'd like to see better access to complete and accurate public and historical records through online computerization. Business license, drivers license, property tax records and payments, maps, plot plans, chain of title, national insurance etc. should all be available online. I want to be able to see everything from my desk without having to drive anywhere in my car. To research something in The Bahamas takes a team of people running all over the place sifting through volumes of paper records at multiple government departments. People want information "at the speed of light", as Bill Gates says, but we're still writing out car licenses by hand. Thousands of man-hours wasted standing in line.
GB: What keeps you grounded?
Peter: My wife. Who else? And my children, who are three, five and seven. I feel I have a responsibility to protect them and provide them with the best I can give. That's not easy in the world today. It's a very daunting task. But it keeps me grounded. I need things to keep me grounded though.
GB: Do you have any major interests other than work?
Peter: I love playing music on the piano and guitar. I've recently been teaching myself the drums and bass but I'm not there yet. I don't read music well and that's another of my goals but I'm impatient and always throw the book down and just play from my head. I also enjoy tennis, flying and boating.
GB: What should young businesses keep in mind in this current economic climate to survive?
Peter: Cut unnecessary costs and spend money wisely. Save for the rainy day and be prudent at any outlay of cash. I always ask myself - If we spend this dollar, what will we get back for it and when will we get it back? If I can't answer that question, then I don't spend it.
I probably get 50 emails and requests per day from people trying to sell me something that I don't need. It becomes overwhelming. So you have to pick and choose and be wise in your decisions when it comes to capital outlay.
GB: How would you describe or classify the ease of doing business in The Bahamas?
Peter: Well, I am a Bahamian and I'm used to doing business here. I've lived here all my life. I love it because I know everybody and everybody knows me. In larger countries, you're just a number - another salmon trying to swim upstream. We have our challenges with inefficiency and red tape in The Bahamas but I feel we have more personal and lasting relationships between colleagues. I like walking into a business where I know the owner or manager or employee. We have big city problems here in Nassau but there is still a certain small town feel to doing business. I like that a lot.
Donovan Butler, 11, a sixth grade student at Xavier's Lower School was recognized over the weekend as the "best and brightest" student coming out of the primary schools this year. Donovan was chosen over 117 of his peers to walk away with the top prize of a $5,000 scholarship and a computer at the 18th annual Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Awards Program (BPSSYAP).
He was the first student from Xavier's Lower School to claim the prize in the program's 18-year history.
Donovan realized he was being named the "best and brightest" when the winner was described as an individual who had helped his school to win two relays as a member of the track team and when it was announced that the student's principal had written that he was not only a good academic student, but also a well-rounded student.
"I am elated with my performance which caused me to win, and I am going on to SAC (St. Augustine's College) in September where I hope to do well and win more awards," the top primary school student said.
The son of David and Lorrieann Butler has a 3.92 grade point average and has been first in his class for six consecutive years. He has also made the Principal's List for academic excellence annually.
After being declared the program's winner, Donovan, who is also the second place finisher of The Bahamas National Spelling Bee, departed for Washington D.C. and the Scripps National Spelling Bee. He and third place finisher in the Bahamian nationals, Franquel Hagan, from Hugh Campbell Primary School in Grand Bahama, accompanied spelling bee champion Prachi Kondapuram. Donovan placed second in back-to-back nationals.
At Xavier's Lower School, the versatile Donovan, is also a member of the Junior Achievement team, the winning Junior Junkanoo team, recorder ensemble and choir. He has also won his category in the 2013 Commonwealth Writers Poetry Competition.
Donovan also assists with coaching the Grasshoppers team in the T-ball division in the Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN) and has been a member of several JBLN national teams.
Lyford Cay International School student Tamsin Nottage was the first runner up in the BPSSYAP. She was awarded a $4,000 scholarship as well as a computer during the ceremony on Saturday at the Golden Gates World Outreach Ministries on Carmichael Road.
Tamsin, who maintains a 4.0 grade point average, has led fundraising drives to assist in the Haiti earthquake relief effort, the Philippine disaster relief as well as Hands for Hunger.
The second through fifth place runners-up were all given $3,000 awards. They were Hope Town Primary School's Bessie Lowe, Sunland Baptist Academy School's Davon Cartwright, Saints Francis and Joseph's Amari Stuart and Man-O-War Cay Primary's Brittany Weatherford. Along with their scholarship awards, Lowe and Cartwright also received computers. Stuart received a tablet phone.
Lowe, who is also a dynamic student, was overwhelmed at finishing in the top three. She plays soccer, swims, sails, does gymnastics and sings in her church's praise band. She placed second in the 2013 Commonwealth Writers Poetry Competition.
Students placing sixth through 15th received $2,000 scholarship awards -- Oakes Field Primary's Jada Culmer, Ulric Ferguson Primary's Iesha Daxon, Amy Roberts Primary's Rayvyn McKinney, Nassau Christian Academy's Sh'ton Pickering, St. Andrew's International School's Reagan Russell, St. Paul's Methodist College's Ciera Sweeting, Uriah McPhee Primary School's Davon Johnson, Kingsway Academy's Kia Basden, Maurice E. Moore Primary School's Justin Bain and Bishop Michael Eldon School's William Moss.
Twelve students were named finalists and awarded $1,500 scholarships -- Simms Primary's Jacob Bailly, Garvin Tynes Primary's Deavon Evans, Lower Deadman's Cay's Isaac Fox, Lucaya International School's Isabella Gouthro, Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic's Chavette Harvey, Freeport Primary School's Lakia Johnson, The Meridian School's Reagan MacKenzie, Tarpum Bay Primary's Tiara McKinney, Angels Academy's Ashley Newell, Sandilands Primary's Dylan Russell, St. Frances De Sales Primary's Malia Sweeting and Gerald Cash Primary's Chesternique Thomas.
Thirty-two students were named semi-finalists and awarded $1,000 scholarships -- St. Cecilia's Catholic Primary's Dontae Beneby, Tambearley School's Tanya Bethel, Gateway Christian Academy's Keri Bowleg, Bayview Academy's Leander Braynen, St. Thomas More's Rebecca Bingham, P.A. Gibson Primary's Sierra Farrington, First Step Academy's Jayden Ferguson, Charles W. Saunders' Branee Gardiner, Albury Sayle's Chardonay Garrick, Governor's Harbour Primary's Equola Gibson, Christian Heritage School's Miranda Jack, C.W. Sawyer Primary's Daijah Johnson, Temple Christian School's McKelton Johnson, Walter Parker Primary School's Sellene Johnson, United Estates Primary's Trevon Johnson, Palmdale Primary School's Pooja Krishna, Excelsior Elementary School's Joshia Miller, Queen's College's Riya Miller, St. Anne's Primary's Branae Minnis, Grand Bahama Seventh-day Adventist School's Roganne Moncur, Emma E. Cooper Primary's Kristman Moss, Spanish Wells All Age School's Ariana Pinder, Rock Sound Primary's Johnnecia Pinder, R.N. Gomez All age School's Tonique Richardson, Agape Christian School's Kenedee Romer, Fresh Creek Primary School's D'Ondre Smith, St. Andrew's Anglican School's Kazmyn Smith, Hillcrest Academy's Khearah Storr, Sadie Curtis Primary's Akila Thomas, Orange Creek Primary's Erin Turner, Trinity Christian School's Ryan Wilson Jr. and Bartlett Hill Primary's Lukajane Kellman.
A family island student and a New Providence student, who would have been semi-finalists if the Foundation and Awards Committee had the money to award them with disbursements, were the recipients of computers. They were Centreville Primary School's Khaliyah Miller and Dominion Technical Primary School's Aaron Farrington.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald said the Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Foundation awards ceremony showcases the country's next cadre of shining stars. He believes the awards program is about more than just representing prizes, scholarships and accolades to deserving students - it is about the hope and joy that lies in store for the nation.
"The attributes that qualified you for this award are the same that you will need to earn your diploma with distinction," said Fitzgerald. He told the children that they are already poised to succeed.
Each year a select group of students are nominated to accept one of the most prestigious national recognitions for primary school students in this country. This awards program, which is the premier program for primary school students, is an opportunity to recognize those students who have demonstrated excellent academic achievement, leadership ability, campus and community involvement and good citizenship.
An independent panel of judges reviewed the portfolios of the 118 students nominated to represent their respective schools from throughout the country to determine the winners. Judges selected winners based on the merits of the achievements documented in the students' portfolio, which included transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation and copies of awards.
The awards are a one-time financial scholarship payable to a Bahamian educational institution for secondary school purposes. This year the Bahamas Primary School Foundation awarded over $91,000 in scholarships and prizes.
The competition, established in 1997, was founded to fill a void in recognizing young achievers, because it was felt that major emphasis was being placed on the achievements of high school students.
The program was introduced by Ricardo P. Deveaux, president and chief executive officer of The Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year Foundation. Deveaux was impressed with the Florida College Student of the Year Awards Program and felt the need to establish a national awards program in The Bahamas. He was, himself, one of seven finalists in the 1992 Florida College Student of the Year Awards Program; Deveaux had flunked out of a private high school in 1983, and was motivated to provide an opportunity for students who are striving for excellence.
Winner -- Donovan Butler, Xavier's Lower School, New Providence
1st runner-up -- Tamsin Nottage, Lyford Cay International School, New Providence
2nd runner-up -- Bessie Lowe, Hope Town Primary, Abaco
3rd runner-up -- Davon Cartwright, Sunland Baptist Academy, Grand Bahama
4th runner-up -- Amari Stuart, Sts. Francis and Joseph, New Providence
5th runner-up -- Brittany Weatherford, Man-O-War Cay Primary, Abaco
6th runner-up -- Jada Culmer, Oakes Field Primary, New Providence
7th runner-up -- Iesha Daxon, Ulric Ferguson Primary, Crooked Island
8th runner-up -- Rayvyn McKinney, Amy Roberts Primary, Abaco
9th runner-up -- Sh'ton Pickering, Nassau Christian Academy, New Providence
10th runner-up -- Reagan Russell, St. Andrew's International School, New Providence
11th runner-up -- Ciera Sweeting, St. Paul's Methodist College, Grand Bahama
12th runner-up -- Davon Johnson, Uriah McPhee Primary, New Providence
13th runner-up -- Kia Basden, Kingsway Academy
14th runner-up -- Justin Bain, Maurice E. Moore Primary School, Grand Bahama
15th runner-up -- William Moss, Bishop Michael Eldon School, Grand Bahama
Jacob Bailly, Simms Primary, Long Island
Deavon Evans, Garvin Tynes Primary, New Providence
Isaac Fox, Lower Deadman's Cay, Long Island
Isabella Gouthro, Lucaya International School, Grand Bahama
Chavette Harvey, Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic, Grand Bahama
Lakia Johson, Freeport Primary School, Grand Bahama
Reagan MacKenzie, The Meridian School, New Providence
Tiara McKinney, Tarpum Bay Primary, Eleuthera
ashley Newell, Angels Academy, Abaco
Dylan Russell, Sandilands Primary, New Providence
Malia Sweeting, St. Frances De Sales Primary Abaco
Chesternique Thomas, Gerald Cash Primary, New Providence
Dontae Beneby, St. Cecilia's Primary, New Providence
Tanya Bethel, Tambearley School, New Providence
Keri Bowleg, Gateway Christian Academy, Bimini
Leander Braynen, Bayview Academy, New Providence
Rebecca Bingham, St. Thomas More Catholic, New Providence
Sierra Farrington, P.A. Gibson Primary, Eleuthera
Jayden Ferguson, First Step Academy, New Providence
Branee Gardiner, Charles W. Saunders, New Providence
Chardonay Garrick, Albury Sayle Primary, New Providence
Equola Gibson, Governor's Harbour Primary, Eleuthera
Miranda Jack, Christian Heritage School, New Providence
Daijah Johnson, C.W. Sawyer Primary, New Providence
McKelton Johnson, Temple Christian School, New Providence
Sellene Johnson, Walter Parker Primary, Grand Bahama
Trevon Johnson, United Estates Primary, San Salvador
Pooja Krishna, Palmdale Primary School, New Providence
Joshia Miller, Excelsior Elementary School, New Providence
Riya Miller, Queen's College, New Providence
Branae Minnis, St. Anne's Primary, New Providence
Roganne Moncur, Grand Bahama SDA School
Kristman Moss, Emma E. Cooper Primary, Eleuthera
Ariana Pinder, Spanish Wells All Age, Eleuthera
Johnnecia Pinder, Rock Sound Primary, Eleuthera
Tonique Richardson, R.N. Gomez All Age, Berry Island
Kenedee Romer, Agape Christian School, Abaco
D'Ondre Smith, Fresh Creek Primary, Andros
Kazmyn Smith, St. Andrew's Anglican School, Exuma
Khearah Storr, Hillcrest Academy, New Providence
Akila Thomas, Sadie Curtis Primary, New Providence
Erin Turner, Orange Creek Primary, Cat Island
Ryan Wilson Jr., Trinity Christian School, New Providence
Lukajane Kellman, Bartlett Primary, Grand Bahama
Khaliyah Miller, Centreville Primary, New Providence
Aaron Farrington, Dominion Technical Primary, Grand Bahama
2013 -- Lauryn Rolle, St. Thomas More Catholic School
2012 -- Nadja Simon, Genesis Academy, New Providence
2011 -- Anna Albury, Hope Town Primary, Abaco
2010 --Jared Fitzgerald, Temple Christian School, New Providence
2009 -- Khes Adderley, Temple Christian School, New Providence
2008 -- James Boyce, Hope Town Primary, Abaco
2007 -- Taran Jay Carey, Tarpum Bay Primary School, Eleuthera
2006 -- George F.D. Zonicle, Bahamas Academy Elementary School, New Providence
2005 -- Shridat Jadoo, Maurice Moore Primary School, Grand Bahama
2004 -- Saul Salonga, Mary Star of The Sea (Catholic) School, Grand Bahama
2003 -- Tenielle Curtis, Sts. Francis and Joseph School, New Providence
2002 -- Zachary Lyons, Queen's College, New Providence
2001 -- Kenny Roberts, Spanish Wells All Age School, Eleuthera
2000 -- Sasha Bain, Walter Parker Primary, Grand Bahama
1999 -- Tiffany Moncur, Carmichael Primary School, New Providence
1998 -- Andrea Moultrie, St. John's College, New Providence
1997 -- Vashti Darling, St. John's College, New Providence
The Sew 'N' Sew Quilters Exhibition opens Tuesday, October 8, 6-9 p.m. at Doongalik Studios. For more information, call 394-1886.
An exhibition, featuring new works by Zena Burland, at the "North Winds" property on Orange Hill opens Saturday, October 5, 1-9 p.m. Also featured will be the artwork of Leroy McLean. Refreshments will be served.
The Gallery at Old For Bay presents A Two Day Art Extravaganza on Friday, October 11, 4-6 p.m. and Saturday, October 12, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Featured artists include Amos Ferguson, Anthony 'Big Mo' Morley, Antonius Roberts, James Bethel, Catherine Armstrong, Lisa Quinn, Kevin Cooper, Trevor Tucker, Natty Chenng, Nicola Angelica, Sharon Mould, Ann Morley, Imogene Walkine, Theo Tavoussis and Judith Papillon. For more information, call 242-377-7001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Feel The Rhythm", new works by Nadine Seymour-Munroe, continues at Hillside House on Cumberland Street.
"Shakespeare in Paradise Celebrates five years of Poster Art: 2009-2013" continues at Popopstudios International Center for the Visual Arts. For more information, visit www.popopstudios.com or shakespeareinparadise.org.
"The Sew 'n' Sew Quilters", an exhibition of quilts, opens Tuesday, October 8, 6-9 p.m. at Doongalik Studios Art Gallery. For more information, call the studio Village Road at 394-1886.
"40 Years of Bahamian Art" continues at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB). For more information, visit www.nagb.org.bs, email email@example.com or call 328-5800/1.
"The Bahamian Collection", photographs by Duke Wells, continues at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB). The opening is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.nagb.org.bs, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 328-5800/1.
"Master Artists of The Bahamas" continues at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Featured artists are John Beadle, Jackson Burnside, Stan Burnside, John Cox, Amos Ferguson, Kendal Hanna, Brent Malone, Eddie Minnis, Antonius Roberts, Dave Smith and Max Taylor. For more information visit www.nagb.org.bs, email email@example.com or call 328-5800/1.
The 5th annual Shakespeare in Paradise Theatre Festival opened Friday, October 4. This year's signature Shakespearean production is "The Shrew", an adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Taming of The Shrew". The signature Bahamian production is E. Clement Bethel's folk opera, "The Legend of Sammie Swain". Also featured will be "Speak the Speech 2" and "d'bi.young anitafrika: The Sankofa Trilogy" as well as the annual Play Reading Series, a dub poetry and drama workshop and a 5th anniversary art exhibition. The festival runs until Saturday, October 12. Tickets can be purchased from the Dundas Box Office 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday to Saturday, tel: 393-3728. For additional information on Shakespeare in Paradise, visit shakespeareinparadise.org or www.facebook.com/ShakespeareInParadise.
Shakespeare in Paradise will host a dub poetry/drama workshop on the sorplusi method, in conjunction with the "d'bi.young anitafrika: The Sankofa Trilogy" production on Saturday, October 12, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Registration is $50 and $25 for students. For additional information, visit shakespeareinparadise.org or www.facebook.com/ShakespeareInParadise.
The School of English Studies at The College of The Bahamas will host the 32nd annual West Indian Literature Conference, under the theme "Multiple Textualities: Imagining the Caribbean Nation". The West Indian Literature Conference Writing Workshops include "Publishing in Caribbean Studies" with Cathie Brettschneider, "Short Fiction Workshop" with Robert Antoni and "Writing for Film Workshop" with Kareem Mortimer. To reserve a space, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cob.edu.bs/conferences/wilc2013.php.
Gaulin Project Online Writing Workshops will be offered by Helen Klonaris for Fall 2013. "Writing Down a Life: Beginning a Memoir" runs October 11 - November 29. Additionally, "Remembering Ourselves: Healing Our Colonial Legacy", a day-long retreat will run October 12, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. To register, email email@example.com
The Nassau Music Society presents award-winning pianist Ah Ruem Ahn in concert on Saturday, October 5, 7:30 p.m. at St. Andrew's Kirk, and Sunday, October 6, 5:30 p.m. at St. Paul's Church Hall, Lyford Cay. Box offices are now open at Custom Computers, Cable Beach; Logos Bookstore, Harbour Bay, and Chapter One Bookstore, Oakes Field. For more information, visit www.nassaumusicsociety.org.
Islandz, having acquired Downtown Art Tours, offers its Islandz Gallery Hop tours, examining art spaces downtown on Saturdays. Tickets are $20 per person for the two-hour tour. For more information or to book tickets, call 601-7592 or visit Islandz online at www.islandzmarket.com.
Tru Bahamian food tours offers a "Bites of Nassau" food tasting and cultural walking tour to connect people with authentic local food items, stories and traditions behind the food and the Bahamians that prepare and preserve them, through a hands-on, interactive, educational tour and culinary adventure. Tickets are $69 per person, $49 for children under 12. Tours are everyday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., starting at the British Colonial Hilton and ending at Tortuga Rum Cake Company. For more information visit www.trubahamianfoodtours.com.
Call for works
Princess Azamat 'Bo' Guirey invites Bahamian artists and resident artists to submit work to be showcased in Art International 2014, opening March 14 at Guaranty Trust Bank in Lyford Manor, Western Road. For more information and to submit your work, please contact Princess Bo Guirey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas - Local author, Lewis
Walmsley who is set to publicly launch his science fiction book
on October 2nd at the Ruby Swiss Restaurant, will be donating the
proceeds of the first 100 book sales to the island's PACE Center for student mothers.
"We at the
deeply grateful for Mr. Walmsley's interest in and intended donation
to our school. We are currently building our computer lab and any
assistance in achieving this goal is greatly appreciated," said Mrs. Butler...
Palm Cay Marina & Beach Club has announced the appointment of Demaro Demeritte as dockmaster with responsibility for its active 194-slip marina on New Providence's southeast coast.
A veteran of the water sports industry and holder of three classes of captain's operator licenses, Demeritte had served as deputy dockmaster of the five-star rated, multimillion-dollar marina since June.
"We are extremely pleased to announce the appointment of Demaro Demeritte as harbormaster," said Palm Cay Director of Sales and Marketing Zack Bonczek.
"Despite the boating activity in The Bahamas, there are only a handful of qualified harbormasters like Demeritte and we were fortunate to have identified him and happy that he has selected Palm Cay for his career. Demaro has the necessary academic and technical engineering skills, followed by more than a dozen years of experience. He also has marketing strengths and the ability to handle the local and visiting boating market as well as looking after all the equipment, docks, electrical, fuel supply and other components of the Palm Cay Marina."
For Demeritte, being in, on and around the water is as natural as breathing air. His uncle and his business associates, he recalls, were first to introduce Jet Skis to The Bahamas and he cannot remember a time he was not swimming, snorkeling or, even as a child buckled in life vest, on the back of a Jet Ski, wide-eyed at the wonder of Bahamian waters.
Demeritte, 33, attended St. Augustine's College in New Providence before earning an associate degree in computer and electrical information from Tampa Technical and a second degree in office management, graduating with high honors from what is now Remington College.
Owner of a successful water sports business on Paradise Island, he also lectures in the Ministry of Tourism's training program, Bahamahost, and has continued to participate in several of the series of hospitality related educational classes.
Fully certified as a first responder with CPR training, Demeritte was appointed by Minister of Transport & Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin to The Bahamas Water Sports Safety Board. He has been featured on the nightly Tourism Today segment twice. He holds Class A, Class B and Class D captain's licences, the latter for motorized water sports.
In his new role, Demeritte is responsible for marina business, marketing strategy, guest relations, marina staff, facilities, including the 4,000-gallon gasoline and 10,000-gallon diesel supply, water, showers, laundry, dockmaster office, wi-fi and other amenities, and the day-to-day operations including assisting or ensuring assistance is available as boats tie up or leave the marina.
The marina, which is the closest to Exuma, is one of the prominent features of the nearly 70-acre development that, when completed, will include some 350 residences with a mixture of single family homes, townhomes and condos, a restaurant, clubhouse, tennis, two pools, 1,200 feet of sandy beach, boardwalk and gazebo and 24-hour gated security. Palm Cay Marina also serves as a BASRA outpost.
The oldest florist in the country is growing.
The Nassau Florist and its division JW/Events are shifting over to the historical Villa Flora building on Dowdeswell Street and Victoria Avenue, boosting its space by more than 2,000 square feet. The move, expected to occur on April 1, is an essential component of its overall expansion plans.
Al Collie, the general manager of Nassau Florist, said the business has boosted its staff complement to 14 in recent months.
The 60-year-old business is looking to hire up to five more Bahamians this year.
"Right now, 80 percent of our business is typically flower sales. The other 20 percent is events," Collie explained. "That is a picture we want to change. In the short term, we want 50 percent of our business to be events."
The Nassau Florist considers its move to Villa Flora "pivotal" to this business plan.
While the business might be largest in The Bahamas in terms of sales volume, special events, such as weddings, remains a relatively modest segment.
Collie said that The Nassau Florist hired a director of sales and marketing in Florida to specifically chase destination weddings and events around the world. Working with the hotels, such as Baha Mar, will be central to these plans, he said.
Noting that Villa Flora is "night and day" compared to the old location, Collie described the historical building as being more than 100 years old and offering 6,000 square feet of space.
"I am very pleased to finally announced that we will be moving to Villa Flora," said Jim Whitehead, the owner. "Many will know the location as the former Gaylord's restaurant on Dowedswell Street at Victoria Avenue in downtown Nassau."
In November, Whitehead announced the decision to sell the current location and move, insisting that the business had outgrown its space on Shirley Street.
Whitehead said that the building was renovated 10 years ago and featured energy efficient amenities, security, computer networking technology, offices, storage space and a conference room. It also has parking available on the property and across the street.
Collie told Guardian Business that the move and expansion is all the more impressive given the tough times facing florists. Like many other industries, the high cost of business has taken its toll.
The industry spends around 50 percent duty on the importation of flowers and other products.
The Nassau Florist is planning an official grand opening on Mother's Day, although it will be opening its doors right after its move to the new location on April 1.
Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) executives are seeing a demand for smart phones from their customers and expect the growth in this market to continue
"We have seen quite a lot of our customers purchasing smart phones. It has become quite a phenomenon since there is a such wide variety of smart phones that are available now," according to Alphanique Duncombe, BTC's product manager for wireless.
"We have seen the demand coming from the local market after BTC started to offer a lot more phones because of their design and functionality. Before launching the 4G technology in December, BTC carried of a lot of basic handsets. Now, coupled with advertising and a rise in the U.S. market, we have seen the demand locally.
"People are realizing the importance of mobility and the ability to do several things on your phone. You need to be able to check your emails on the go. Bahamians are really starting to see the need to have a smart phone. You can't live without it."
Duncombe pointed out to Guardian Business that BTC has seen a significant increase in its number of data subscribers as a result of its 4G launch back in December 2012.
"Every month, we see it going up so we expect to see continuous growth. We have LTE coming up, more demand is there because you don't just want to be mobile but you want everything fast," she said.
"You want to be able to have the same experiences you would have sitting in front of the computer. Once we are able to bring that to the customers, there is no need for the computer anymore. Everything is pretty much done on your device."
"Our data subscribers have risen incredibly and it's continuing to rise now."
In fact, Duncombe revealed to Guardian Business that just in the month of December, BTC sold between 15,000 to 20,000 phones, and most of them were smart phones. She believes those figures can give an idea of how great the smart phone "phenomenon" has been for the telecommunications company.
"We'll definitely see an increase in sales because most of our devices, especially the ones that are coming out next quarter, are in fact smart phones. There will be a new range of handsets that are coming out in the next quarter," she added.
"The smart phones are more affordable in comparison to the last year where you would have had to pay $500 plus for a smart phone. Now you're able to get an android device for $99 so customers nowadays are opting to buy smart phones as opposed to a basic phone that can't really do much."
In March, BTC forecasted a 40 percent "uplift" in data traffic this year after registering an 81 percent explosion in the smart phone usage for 2012.
BTC is targeting both the high-end smart phone market and an even more expansive entry-level market.
The result is far more data usage and ultimately higher revenue for BTC.
NUA Insurance Agents & Brokers is looking to target up to 3,000 clients following the launch of its cyber liability insurance coverage -- a product that offers businesses protection from cyber attacks and other online exposures, such as e-theft.
The company, which is the first to launch this type of coverage, held its launch at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel recently, where a cross section of the business and insurance community got an opportunity to learn more about the product.
The launch is timely given that National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage recently expressed concerns about cybercrime and announced his government's plan to strengthen the appropriate legislation.
NUA Assistant Managing Director Stanford Charlton said his company had been closely monitoring similar hacking and cyber attacks that are happening internationally and felt it was time to introduce the product to the Bahamian market.
Over the Christmas holiday, hackers stole the credit and debit card information of millions of Target's customers. The U.S. retailer is now facing a string of lawsuits over its data breach.
"We said if it can happen in Europe, Asia, the United States and other places, it's at our doorsteps. We need to take this thing seriously and bring it here. We follow closely what happens in the United States. Once the claims start to happen there, people will look at The Bahamas as an easy target, so we realized that we had to bring that insurance product here," said Charlton.
Charlton indicated that if a company's IT system is breached and its clients' personal information is accessed, it may face stiff fines or penalties under the Data Protection Act, in instances where adequate safeguards were not in place to prevent the breach. Cyber liability insurance gives cover for these fines.
NUA Managing Director Warren Rolle said since the launch NUA has gotten "quite a number of inquiries from a number of our competitors".
"So, we're pretty sure that they are going to follow suit at some point," he said.
Charlton explained that NUA's staff underwent extensive training over several weeks to become familiar with the product.
NUA later invited Charles Juarbe, divisional director of global insurance broker, FINEX Global & Willis Limited, to discuss the coverage during the launch.
Rolle indicated that there have been a number of sessions with Willis, including a recent online webinar, to acclimate staff to the new product. He said he is confident that NUA is ready for a successful launch of this product.
Charlton said NUA has gotten positive feedback ever since it announced plans to launch its newest product.
"I have been getting calls non-stop asking about cyber liability insurance and when I explain what it covers and what some of the ramifications of computer hacking are clients want to know more. This was a timely presentation and I hope it sensitizes the public to knowing and understanding that they need to get this insurance," he said.
"We are live with the facility, so, when clients call us we can give quotes within 20-25 minutes once they provide us with information on their turnover, the number of employees and what limits they want, they can get quotations back quickly."
Juarbe said his company decided to partner with NUA because the company has a "strong presence" in The Bahamas.
"They know their clientele, they know what they're looking for in terms of boots on the ground and they're going to know what their clients are looking for. At Willis we're very proud to have partnered with NUA in getting this facility done because people do need the protection . . . and as the minister said, the cyber threats are coming."
Juarbe advised companies who are dealing with their customers' sensitive data to be careful when selecting outside vendors.
"As a company, you have to ask yourself two questions -- one, are you managing the IT system and two, are you outsourcing that IT system. That's the difference. Sometimes you have a company like a restaurant, and you have the owner in the back but he's only just plugging information in, in terms of profits and sales, but who is providing that point of sale system or payment providing system? That's not going to be them, that's an outsourced vendor. Then what you need to do is question that outsource vendor: do you have the firewalls, the antivirus systems to make sure you're providing adequate coverage for me because even though the restaurant is going to get coverage, they also need to make sure that the outsource provider is providing them that same protection as well. People need to know the answer because the risks and the losses are real," he said.
Juarbe also noted that there is a minimum and maximum revenue requirement when it comes to securing cyber liability insurance with NUA.
"So, if your company is making $200 million in gross revenues and more than $30 million in net profit, obviously you'd be too big for the facility. But, that doesn't mean that you can't get coverage. What we could do is go to open market, access other markets to get quotations for you," he said.
"To be excluded from the cyber facility there'd have to be a risk that we'd have to say is beyond the regular small medium enterprise risk. There are some classes of business that will fall out obviously because of the higher risk that they have, such as financial institutions or hospitals or technology companies. But does that mean that we can't get them coverage? Absolutely not. We can get them coverage and we can get them whatever limit that they're looking for."
According to Charlton, the cost of the cover is dependent on the type of business, its annual turnover and the number of employees it has. Coverage ranges from $250,000 up to $2 million.
"Premiums are quite reasonable, $412 for $1 million coverage for certain companies," he said. "It's a quick process. We promise that you will be in and out as long as we have the right information," Charlton said.
As the government moves full speed ahead with its intention to implement value-added tax (VAT), a leading hotelier said he would have preferred a sales tax and is urging the government to delay the implementation date for VAT.
In an interview with Guardian Business, Atlantis President and Managing Director George Markantonis said for the Paradise Island property, implementing a sales tax would be "easier" than implementing VAT. He made this suggestion as uncertainty still looms about the latter form of taxation.
"We all understand it and the whole world has done it (sales tax). And more importantly for us, our computer systems would be able to take those changes," he said.
While the government has proposed a general VAT rate of 15 percent, the hotel sector will be subject to a lower rate of 10 percent. Markantonis has estimated that his company will have to spend at least $500,000 on technology to implement VAT.
Markantonis is not the only one suggesting that a sales tax be implemented instead of VAT.
Numerous members of the business community, such as President of the Bahamas Motor Dealers Association Fred Albury, and Super Value President Rupert Roberts, have also touted such an alternative as a simpler alternative to VAT.
Meanwhile, Pedro Delaney, a chartered accountant and chief financial officer at Societe Generale Private Banking (Bahamas) Ltd. and SG Hambros Bank and Trust (Bahamas) Ltd., recently said the government should consider other forms of taxation such as a corporate income tax, which he believes would be easier to implement.
"When you consider income taxes, there are personal income taxes as well as corporate income taxes. Corporate taxes may be an easier measure to implement if we are going to address income taxes. The government may in considering that want to consider a flat rate for corporations on their net income," he noted.
The government, however, has pointed to the more "regressive" nature of a sales tax, which does not allow for credits for tax paid on inputs, and therefore becomes "a tax on a tax". Officials have also suggested the credit mechanism under VAT would increase compliance with the tax regime.
Atlantis' top executive is urging the government to postpone the July 2014 implementation to allow for more preparation time. In the meantime, Markantonis confirmed that Atlantis plans to hire consultants to help it understand the ins and outs of VAT and the impact it could have. He maintains that his biggest concern is the possibility of The Bahamas outpricing itself as a destination.
"We're not sure how it's going to impact us spread across our campus because we have multiple business units and revenue streams. They're not all what it would be in a typical hotel. Is Marina Village, which has four of our restaurants, part of the hotel or not? How do the dolphins fall into this picture? There are a lot of factors you have to look at," he told Guardian Business.
"We're not going to eat the costs, that's for sure. So the issue is going to be if there is going to be an added cost, and if we're not going to be reimbursed for it in another manner, which is trackable, that's the key, then obviously we are going to have to pass that on to the consumer. Do we like it? Well, no. I hope it doesn't get to that because we certainly don't want to outprice our destination because we are already fairly pricey."
Officials at the Ministry of Finance estimate that VAT can generate approximately $200 million in revenue in the first year alone, which the government has suggested is key to reducing national debt levels.
Micronet, a New Providence-based regional technology leader, marks its 30th anniversary this month, celebrating with a reception for long-standing clients and the official unveiling of its new 11,500 plus square foot super store and service facility.
The company that has grown exponentially over the decades is a quiet success story that parallels the growth of the fast-changing technology industry it serves.
Three decades ago, it opened with two full-time employees in a small space in the Out Island Traders Building off Mackey Street. Back then, storage capacity was measured in kilobytes (KB); a computer with 160KB was cutting edge, and word processing was done on typewriters.
Now, Micronet occupies two buildings, boasts nearly three dozen staff and asserts that its multilevel retail superstore rivals top-of-the-line competitors anywhere.
"We all take for granted the wonderful technology we enjoy today like the Apple iPad or the HP Ultrabook, technology that was unheard of 30 years ago," said Stephen Cartwright, tech co-founder and current CEO of Micronet.
"But that technology changes so fast that unlike in many businesses, where you have the luxury of reviewing new products every season, in our business you can go to sleep at night and when you wake in the morning, there's something new on the market that makes yesterday's hottest device feel as outdated as the rotary dial phone. You either keep up or you get left behind, and at the same time, you also have to remain focused on consistent customer service."
Cartwright's all-Bahamian staff of 35 include industry-certified technicians. "We are very proud of our new facilities, but more importantly, we are extremely proud of our dedicated staff, including our 15 certified technicians," said Gregory Pinder, general manager of Micronet. Not being afraid to grow and to invest in training has allowed Micronet to emerge as the only authorized Apple service provider in The Bahamas. It is also among the regional leaders in technology sales and service for Toshiba, HP, Apple, Lenovo and Microsoft.
"Creating a true technology superstore has been our goal and we are excited about this major expansion that allows us to serve clients in a way that we have always envisioned," said Micronet Marketing Manager Adriano Baldacci.
"As for the store itself, we wanted it to reflect modern style that blends futuristic with professional in design but would facilitate personal interaction and comfort. Successful Apple stores have a lively, upbeat feeling with a clean look and that's what we were after right here in Palmdale in the heart of Nassau. We wanted people to feel comfortable trying before they decided to buy. Our full line of laptops, iPads, Mac books and desktops are out on display for customers to come in and test out."
This expansion is "powerful for businesses", Baldacci said.
"We're a one stop shop for technology for everyone from the individual to the country's largest company or institution."