Gibsons founder hoping offspring will double his achievements
June 3, 2011
Gibsons founder hoping offspring will double his achievements

As Gibsons Building Supplies Ltd. celebrates its 30th anniversary, founder of the business, Gurney Gibson, has high hopes that his children and grandchildren will be able to surpass his achievements.{{more}}

“I’ll like them to see what I have accomplished, they can double it. I don’t think it’s difficult; they can do that. If I went with it from scratch, I’ll like to think that in the same time or a shorter time, they should be able to reap more success and continue going forward,” said Gibson, adding “it’s no turning back.”

The family team that operates Gibson’s Building Supplies Ltd. is comprised of Gurney Gibson, who at 82 serves as the Managing Director of the company, with his son Edwin Gibson as Assistant Manager, and daughter, Vendolle Williams, as the Accounts Manager. His son, Ernie Gibson, who resides in the USA, is the business advisor, while his first son, Michael Gibson, and grandson, Aaron, oversee the construction component of the business. Granddaughters Nakisha and Roisin are walking in their parents’ footsteps, quickly learning the day-to-day operations of the business since they are expected to be the future management of Gibsons Building Supplies Limited. Gurney’s wife Rebecca is now retired, but fills in for an absent family member if the need arises.

In a feature interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday, May 31, Gibson said that he is happy that his company has attained the 30th anniversary milestone, in spite of the many challenges over the years.

He said a great part of his company’s success over the years is attributed to family members running the affairs of the business.

“So that means that I didn’t get as much pilfering and many other types of losses that some people have in other businesses,” said Gurney.

The senior Gibson learned the ins and outs of the building industry as a child, as his father was a building contractor.

“All I knew is about furniture and building, so that’s why I didn’t pursue another profession like doctor, lawyer, etc,” he said.

Gibson’s hardware business first started in the basement of his Cane Garden home as early as 1979, from where he sold building materials. He recalled spending a lot of time driving to construction sites, where he encouraged prospective home owners to do business with him. He told SEARCHLIGHT that his clients received good value for their money. He also built houses and sold them. The latter activity, he said, became even more profitable than his furniture business, which he had also started.

By 1981, the business moved to Victoria Park Road, Kingstown, to accommodate his growing clientele, and it was at that point that Gibson decided to name his business ‘Gibsons Building Supplies Ltd’. The company started with three employees, but today employs almost 100 persons.

In the ensuing years, Gibson reaped many successes and invested by purchasing other properties as well as building his own. In 1982, he purchased a property next to his Victoria Park Road business and created a lumber department. He also purchased a property at Grenville Street, demolished the building there and erected a three storey building, where he established a light hardware store in December 1990. At present, this building is leased to a popular restaurant.

Gibson also built a seven unit apartment building at Indian Bay, which was followed by the purchase of a property at Bay Street, which now houses a self service light hardware store.

While he credits his success to hard work over the years, he particularly lauds his wife and children for their service to the company. He even recalled the years when his wife drove their pickup to deliver goods to customers.

“They are the backbone of the business,” said Gibson, as he spoke proudly of his children.

“Without them I would have had to close,” he said, noting that it would be impossible to run the family business with people who are not putting their all into it.

Looking back, Gibosn said he never thought he would be a businessman, even though he was building furniture and houses.

Despite his success, Gibson disclosed that it was not all smooth sailing over the years, as he faced stiff competition from other businessmen, with one businessman demanding that Gibson settle his account with the competitor’s business immediately after he established Gibsons Building Supplies Ltd.

“They got against me because I was a good customer and was now giving them competition. So it was a challenge, heavy challenge,” said Gibson. He said while some businesses were doubling their prices, he simply added 20 to 25 per cent markup on the cost price. He said the current economic climate is also a challenge.

Looking on from outside, the progress of Gibsons Building Supplies Limited, to the eye, may seem like an easy success story, but it was no easy task for Gibson and his family. He was unfortunate not to have had a secondary education, as he was unable to take up a scholarship to attend the Boys Grammar School. This was a blow to him, but he accepted his fate and his drive for success, discipline, and honesty molded him into the successful and respected businessman that he is today.

In 2005, he received an award from the Queen of the Officer of the British Empire (OBE) for his outstanding contribution to construction and business in St.Vincent and the Grenadines.