Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 1st 2015 Contents BG6 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt OCTOBER 1 • 2015
Eighteen companies from T&T,
Barbados, Suriname and Jamaica
formed a Caricom delegation to
Costa Rica last week and had the
opportunity to talk about their
companies to 400 exporters from
the Central American country at
the 17th Buyers Trade Mission.
According to the Caribbean
Export Promotion Agency
(CEDA) Costa Rica s annual eco-
nomic growth averaged around
4.9 per cent in the early part of
the 21st century, and is estimated
to grow between 2015 into 2016.
Growth has been particularly
strong in the country, reflecting
mostly the strong performance
of investment and exports and
its GDP per capita (PPP) is slight-
ly above US$14,000.
Costa Rica has been successful
in exporting to 157 countries,
according to a statement from
exporTT. General manager of
Procomer, Pedro Beirut Prada,
said the country has been suc-
cessful in exporting because its
companies have adopted a zero
tolerance policy against "com-
placency" and "mediocrity."
The Caricom delegation
attended the mission due to
exporTT deepening its ties with
Procomer, which is the export
promotion agency in Costa Rica.
Its duties include simplifying and
facilitating export procedures.
Caricom member states can
learn from Costa Rica s export
success story about how to build
a strong country brand, said
ExporTT in a statement.
"ExporTT welcomes this
opportunity to increase our inter-
national presence by mirroring
this success story and creating
the necessary linkages to boost
foreign trade in T&T."
Owner/operator of Ramlagan s General
Hardware and Electrical Ltd, Krishna Ram-
lagan, says succession planning plays a pivotal
role in ensuring that a family business stays
in existence for decades.
"Succession planning means that my five
daughters would have to take up the mantle
from here and, of course, provide what the
market requires," Ramlagan said in an interview
with Business Guardian.
The group, which started with one small
hardware store in Balmain, Couva, some 30
years ago, now comprises five businesses
including a superstore, which sells household
items, a plumbing and electrical supply store,
a paint store and a small hotel in Tobago.
Now, 60 years old Ramlagan---a welder
before he became an entrepreneur--- never
attended university or even secondary school,
but now employs more than 100.
Ramlagan is this year s winner of the Abel
Solutions Ltd s "The Strongest of Them All"
promotion and has been receiving awards since
As an entrepreneur for decades, he said
location is important when starting a business
as there is a "natural" demand in Balmain for
the products and brands his businesses offer,
without too much marketing.
Ramlagan s second business was Mediplus
Pharmacy which he eventually had to close
down due to personal reasons.
Determined to succeed, he opened a 19-
room hotel in Crown Point called Sunspree
Resort Ltd that includes a restaurant and bar
which started 15 years ago. The resort was the
start of Ramlagan s diversified portfolio of
businesses since he expanded from his core
business of hardware into hospitality and other
Ramlagan then started another business,
this time providing plumbing, electrical and
small hardware items calling it, Classic Hard-
ware Electrical and Plumbing Ltd which is
now 10 years old. Ramlagan did not stop there
as he opened a superstore providing household
items to his Balmain, Couva customer base.
His technique for knowing what type of
business to open involved observing the trends
in demand within his customer base. One of
the trends he noticed is that customers were
demanding a different paint grade from the
one he carried at the hardware. This prompted
Ramlagan to open a paint shop, Ramlagan s
Colour Shop Ltd.
"Customers were not requesting regular
paint from the shelf especially new home-
owners. They would want to go to the colour
shops which is a new business (new trend) in
T&T. The water type paint would sell an aver-
age of $140 to $150 per gallon."
"What I observed is that customers were
leaving that paint and going to buy the paint
in the colour shop which will vary slightly
from the regular paint chart. They would pay
double the price $250 for the same grade of
Ramlagan, who is a father of five daughters
and grandfather of three, started off as a welder
at Tricon at 17, where he was the youngest
His advice to budding entrepreneurs: never
give up, always work hard, be dedicated and
committed and they would be successful.
"My five daughters are directors of the com-
pany. I went straight from primary school into
the working world. Your business is your cus-
tomers. It isn t you. Treat your customer how
you would want to be treated, when you go
into any business and you are a customer."
Succession planning pivotal
to business growth
Ramlagan's Group of Companies
Sunspree Resort Ltd
Store Bay Local Road
Crown Point 40,
Ramlagan's General Hardware
and Electrical Ltd
Classic Hardware Electrical and
Balmain Main Road
Ramlagans Superstore Ltd
Balmain Main Road
Ramlagan's Colour Shop Ltd
Balmain Main Road
PHOTO: MARCUS GONSALES
Caricom attended Coasta Rica mission due to exporTT
PHOTOS: COURTESY EXPORTT
Prada, meet at
the 17 buyers
Continued on page 7
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