When hard times meets opportunity
Guardian Business Reporter
Published: May 17, 2013
In 2009, Leonard Sands found himself unemployed.
After serving as a project manager for a successful development in Abaco, the project ended and work dried up. He spent three months looking for a job, with no openings or offerings in sight. It took the harsh reality of a recessionary economy, however, to spur the best decision of his life.
“I said to myself, now is the best time as any to plunge out there and start my business,” Sands said. “I had it formed and structured. With some investment dollars, got together and started the company.”
Launching Sandbank Construction Company Limited gave him the chance to turn a circumstance into an opportunity. Now, almost four years later, Sandbank Construction has an office and seven full-time employees.
The company has completed more than $1 million worth of projects.
Sands, who is the company’s managing director, pointed out that despite the challenges of owning and managing a business, establishing Sandbank has been “rewarding”. But the business is no doubt at a critical stage.
“We have a young staff. The training they get comes directly from myself. But the growth projection is enormous and that’s what keeps me motivated to push forward year after year,” he said.
“Off the bat, I got a couple of projects, completed them successfully and then the name started to go around. Sooner or later, it became more of a request to have my services. For the last two years, we have basically been working on referrals”
The Sandbank’s Construction executive believes the company will be a significant and a dominant player in the construction industry within the next five years.
“In the next five years, I think Sandbank Construction will be a significant and dominant player in the construction industry especially when it comes to the niche market of high-end residential homes. We are also branching out into the Family Islands and doing our own developments. That is something that coming for us in the fifth year,” according to Sands.
“I just came back from Canada where we talked about a number of new building technologies, which the people that I spoke to are eager to bring to The Bahamas. They have them in some of the other Caribbean islands but not yet in The Bahamas. I’m hoping to establish opportunities in the far-flung islands like producing hurricane-proof homes at very competitive prices that would meet or exceed the expectations of traditional ones. We plan to use new technologies out of Canada and Peru.”
To date, Sands has invested between $75,000 to $100,000 into Sandbank Construction on tools, equipment, an office, software and the day-to-day expenses.
“In our fifth year, I definitely see myself having a lot more liquidity than I have now. But the liquidity challenge is only being challenged by the fact that capital projects are what you do to build your business,” he noted.
“I would tell anyone going into business, spend the money where it is important to do so. The first year, we were operating from a truck. Year two, I set the goal that we were going to have an office. Year three, I determined that we needed to have an accountant on staff.
“Every year, we peg milestones to help grow the business and with every one that we have pegged, it has met with challenge but success. It’s important for us to build up the capital base.”