|Bahamas Striping wins first Out-Island job in Abaco at Winding Bay|
|Friday, 29 July 2011 06:28|
ABACO, Bahamas -- A young entrepreneur who was raised in Murphy Town, Abaco is excited to return to his birthplace to work on a project marking roads at Winding Bay. Atario Mitchell, now 24 years old, is president of Bahamas Striping, a company launched with the help of the government’s Self Starter Program early last year. The job at Winding Bay is his first job in any of the Family Islands and he hopes this will be the first of many.
Bahamas Striping and Knowles Construction are expected to sign a contract for striping on the new government complex and NIB in Marsh Harbour.
“The most important thing for this trip is for me to perform quality work on the job. I take a special pride here because this was where I was born and raised. It will be wonderful to see many familiar faces. Like everyone who was born here, one day I want to move back here and settle,” said Mitchell. Having graduated from Abaco Central High, Mitchell worked holidays as a bus boy at the Abaco Beach Resort & Boat Harbour Marina, before moving to Freeport and then Nassau.
Since Bahamas Striping’s start several months ago, Mitchell has been operating exclusively in Nassau where he has built an impressive list of clients including high profile companies such as Bahamas Hot Mix, Old Fort Bay, Charlottesville, Serendipity, Sheraton, Wendy’s, and three Super Value food stores.
In 2010, Mr. Mitchell used a $5,000 grant from the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture to buy an industrial-grade paint machine called a Graco LineLazer 3900 with a self-propelled seat for striping long roads. That machine painted car parks until the company invested in its own thermoplastic handliner from Georgia, USA. Melted thermoplastic is not as simple as paint but lasts four times longer, according to US State’s Department of Transportation.The company’s biggest job so far has been the Lynden Pindling Airport where, with two Florida engineering firms, Bahamas Striping spray-painted both the airside and the landside. The company marked the car parks, the taxiway lines and the symbols and arrows on the aprons, matching the rigorous standards that govern airport markings
Now with his own dedicated thermoplastic machine, and an expert thermoplastic technician and trainer, Mitchell can take on large road projects. His company is equipped with the machines and the technical knowledge to stripe roads to the correct UK Road Traffic standards that the Bahamas has adopted. He’s expecting to work on the National Sports Stadium, the West Bay Cable Beach Rerouting for the Baha Mar development, and Nassau’s new Arawak Cay Port Development. Those jobs will set Bahamas Striping well on its way to success, says Mitchell.
One of Bahamas Striping’s guiding policies is to train the staff to handle all of the equipment and any situation. Mitchell learned the value of training when got his start in the striping field when 20 years old. Working in Freeport with his uncle, Cai Miller who striped all of the Port Authority’s roads and car parks, he was taught the ins and out of striping and marking up.
Having seen what a good business that striping was, Mitchell dreamed of owning his own company. When the Bahamas government announced the Self Starter Program, Mitchell jumped at the chance. He sought advice from experienced business friends, made a plan and the Self Starter Committee loved its originality. According to Ricardo Deveaux at the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture, who helped Mitchell apply, the committee was looking for original, niche business ideas that matched an existing need. Minister of Youth, Sport & Culture The Hon. Charles Maynard, MP, guided Mitchell and encouraged his to talk to all the big companies and go after the big jobs that the government had signed.
At the time, and even now, the striping field is dominated by a foreign company, based out of the UK. Mitchell soon realized people wouldn’t serve him jobs on a plate: he would have to prove himself and then challenge the foreigner. Mitchell approached his own MP, the Hon. Brent Symonette, who encouraged him and told him how to apply for the large projects and who to speak to. Mitchell was surprised at the amount of support he got. He found that almost every local engineering firm and construction company – and even the Ministry of Works -- shared the same sentiment: that if a local company is willing and able to work, then the local company should get preference over foreigners.
Mitchell sees the future as a bright one and hopes to convince government to look into how these large projects effectively block out the small local operators for small parts of the tender. He believes that each large contract should have a clause that gives small Bahamians and local firms a better chance.
“There needs to be a patriotism where big project tenders will make exceptions and hire proven local companies,” says Mitchell.
“We cannot thank the government and Minister Maynard enough for getting us started. Our success so far owes almost everything to the private companies like the New Providence Development Company that took a chance on us to give me trials. Companies like Knowles Construction are economic heroes, I believe, for making a conscious decision to empower young Bahamian entrepreneurs like me,” said Mitchell.
“One of the best way to defeat the sickness in society and the youth in the Bahamas is to give them meaningful work and hope. A person like Emile Knowles gives us that hope. And that’s what we need more of than anything, especially during these tough times.”
“The government has done wonders with it programs like the Jump Start and the Worker Subsidy Training program. We just need them to help us defend ourselves against the big foreign boys on the ground and stop letting them hide behind these big contracts. If we get a chance, like we’ve done with all our clients, we can show we can do great work at a competitive price. And the profits and economic benefits will stay here to build our country, “said Mitchell. “The government needs to be very strong on that.”
Bahamas Striping plans to come back to work on the Marsh Harbour government complex and plans to hire local Abaco youth for the future projects.
Photo: Atario Mitchell on Bahamas Striping’s Graco LazerLiner 3900 striping a side road off Gladstone Road.
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