Front Page
March 31, 2006


Geccu: Right on the block

If you need proof of GECCU’s involvement in community activity, you don’t have to go far from Kingstown.

In the South Leeward district of Campden Park, an enterprising couple, Antoinette and Noel Douglas, is proving that with financial support, the ambitious member can make something extra out of life. {{more}}

And in the case of the Douglas, that measure of solidarity is coming from the General Employees Cooperative Credit Union (GECCU). Noel is a former Police Officer in the local constabulary. He left that service after seven years and worked as a salesman for a further eight years. He married Antoinette April 1, 1995, and the union has produced four children.

Noel became a GECCU member in 1988. In 2002, the Douglas family took a major business decision.

Noel was keen on establishing his independence, and his research revealed that the construction industry offered some scope. He thought that getting into block-making would be relatively simple and he found a worthy partner in GECCU.

GECCU financed him with a truck and last October, he purchased a new Hydraulic Block Making Machine. The couple was conscientious enough to secure some special features in the machine from the designers, and with the computerised gadget they can produce four inch, six inch, eight inch and ten inch blocks.

The Douglas enterprise is are a progressive business entity and with GECCU in their corner, the couple sees no limits to the heights to which their operation can go.

Noel was full of praise for GECCU: “I believe it is the financial institution that helps the poor man with small ideas,” Noel said.

“We believe that we could become the number one concrete shaping business in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Noel declared.

He was careful to describe the enterprise as concrete shaping because he plans to get into ‘Fancy block’ as soon as he gets the appropriate moulds and he also views the construction of ornaments as part of the venture.

As is the case with most construction works throughout the Caribbean, the Douglas’ biggest obstacle is the unreliable supply of cement.

He has established good relations with his clients, and as long as someone is building a house, they would purchase cement and send it to the Douglases for them to make their blocks.

The Douglases are an example of a genuine and committed couple. Noel was born in Campden Park and is fully involved his community. His role as an entrepreneur has been greatly appreciated in the neighbourhood. He has a knack for dealing with people and he finds no difficulty in coping with anyone. His wife complements the operation in splendid fashion. Noel entrusts her with the financial transactions, because he finds that she handles that aspect with shrewdness.

She is from Lauders on the Windward side of mainland St. Vincent. That is in the banana belt, and Antoinette has grown up accustomed to diligent work on the farm. She has perhaps shifted her focus to the family operation and the harmony appears to have worked miracles.

Noel is taking matters in stride and is modest about the operations, but he is confident that the venture will thrive. He is concerned about standards and he outlined that he keeps in touch with contractors in order to ensure that his product maintains a standard that is safe and acceptable.

“In block making, you have to constantly assess your quality,” Noel said.

He is conscious of his need to keep up with the trends and declared: “We are growing. We are making preparations to expand.”

And there is an air of confidence about him, because he knows that he can count on GECCU.

“With Geccu on my side, there is nothing to stop us. I have no fear. GECCU will handle all my finances,” Noel indicated.

The block making plant is not the only aspect of GECCU’s involvement with the Douglases.

“Once it involves money, GECCU will be my choice,” he outlined.

He disclosed that his savings are done through GECCU, and their mortgage is also on the GECCU records.

It is not just a family affair for the Douglases. They have become employers, with four persons working regularly.

With expansion on the cards, there is reason to believe the list of workers will increase proportionately.

With GECCU’s faith in its members, and members’ loyalty, GECCU’s $100m mark is a natural result. The figure seems likely to double as long as GECCU maintains its connection to persons like the Douglases.