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Challenges with capital

by Neville Clarke

donvilletakesabusrideUnder-capitalisation and cost of inputs remain major headaches for local manufacturers.

Managing Director of L&N Workshop Inc., Norman Edwards, voiced these concerns today during an interview with Barbados TODAY at the company’s Cane Garden, St. Thomas, headquarters.

Edwards stressed that access to capital remained one of the major challenges confronting local manufacturers.

“The commercial banks are not really willing to lend businesses like ours money, that is the truth. We would appreciate if the Central Bank can get some finance for manufacturing. At the end of the day you cannot operate a business unless the financial institutions are willing to lend you money,” Edwards lamented.

Edwards, who currently employs 47 workers and has been operating at the Cane Garden site for the past ten years, said the company was involved in the manufacture of other products besides minibus bodies and the installation of super-structures on chasses.

He pointed out that his company has built a garbage skip at a cost of $7,000 which could eliminate the threat posed by rodents, cats and stray dogs scattering refuse. Edwards pointed out that the skip was built for areas that garbage trucks could not access, and where residents are forced to place their garbage in front of other people’s homes at the entrance of the road.

The manufacturer noted that he spent 21 years at Acme Manufacturing after pursuing courses at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic.†Edwards declined to comment on the financial status of the company, pointing out that sometimes there might be a turnover of business, yet the company did not make any money.

He explained that sometimes it takes a company ten to 15 years before it begins to record a profit.

“The up-front costs are very expensive. The material we use is bought locally yet it is very expensive. To be competitive against the Trinidadians is very difficult because they get their material at a more competitive price. Their cost of labour is cheaper than ours and electricity is high in Barbados.

“I would hope that under Government’s stimulus package they would pay companies which provided goods and services to state agencies in an attempt to correct the companies’ cash flow position.”

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