Tue | Jan 23, 2018

Christal in a machine shop

Published:Friday | August 5, 2016 | 5:23 PMMel Cooke
Scotiabank SME team members listen intently as Clifton's Machine Shop engineer Horace Mahony (second left) gives details of what he is fixing to Christal Heaven (right). The banking team is Nicole Warren (left), Dudley Walters (third left, partially hidden), Milton Elliott (third right) and Avril Leonce.
Scotiabank's Avril Leonce, director Professional Partnership SME (second left), gets into the mechanics of realigning a rim with Horace Mahony (right),-chief engineer at Clifton's Machine Shop in Montego Bay, St James. Scotiabankers Nicola Warren (left) and Janice Burchell (second right) observe the process.
Christal Heaven (left) of Clifton's Machine Shop outlines the steps needed to restore a section of a car engine to Scotiabank executives Milton Elliott (centre) and Dudley Walters.
Christal Heaven (centre) observes as Scotiabank's Milton Elliott (right) takes a close look at equipment in Clifton's Machine Shop, Montego Bay, St James,along with Dudley Walters.

There was a time when Christal Heaven’s father would chase her out of his businessplace, Clifton’s Machine Shop, Montego Bay, St James. That did not curb her enthusiasm for a place of strange looking machinery and pieces of equipment which would be brought in broken, with the Expectation that they would be made whole and working again.

Still, Christal was not expecting it when, in 2012, her father suggested that his Clifton’s Machine Shop, which he started in 1980, go into the second generation of Heavens. “I was so surprised when he asked me if I would take it over. This is the business that put me through school,” she said.

The Clifton’s originator now lives in Canada and Christal not only co-owns Clifton’s Machine Shop in MoBay, but also owns CS Heaven Machine Shop in Mandeville. It was opened in 2014.

Motor vehicles are key to the machine shop business and Christal describes a situation where someone brought in a Peugeot part to be worked on. Her father was called in Canada and he supplied the required dimensions in short order, long distance. “Dad is a genius,” Christal said.

Christal used to attend car racing events with her father and the automotive world, as well as the sections of businesses that machine shops interacts with intensely, are male dominated. In addition, the workers at the machine shops Christal operates are mostly male. Gender is not an issue, though, in her running the business.

“I find it very easy. We are more like family. Without my team I would not be where I am. Or without my close friends and my bankers,” Heaven said.

“It’s easy to manage, once I tap into the culture. “You have to know what people want, in order for you to get what you want. “

Heaven, who is a part of Scotiabank’s Vision Achiever Programme, speaks highly of her bankers, naming Janet Richards among a number of persons at the bank who have been integral to her business. Explaining her business to the programme, Heaven said “this industry includes all companies and activities involved in manufacture of motor vehicles, including most components, such as engines and bodies. The industry’s principal products are passenger automobiles and trucks and large transport trucks, including pick-ups, vans and sport utility vehicles.” While commercial vehicles are very important, they are classified as secondary to the industry.l

Heaven took over Clifton’s Machine Shop the same year she finished a first degree in Hotel and Tourism Management at the Western Hospitality Institute. She is planning to do two Masters degrees, one in business and the other in education. The business studies plans are related to not only the machine shops but the hotel which Christal plans to open next year. “I am a businesswoman,” she said about the diversification plans.

Her education studies intentions come from a seven year stint teaching Conversational Spanish, Heaven picking up the language skill doing two years of medicine in Cuba. The medical field is not for her, Christal locating her passion in serving people. So it is not surprising that she has worked in the hotel sector – a connection with tourism which continues as Clifton’s counts a number of hotels among its clients.

In running the MoBay and Mandeville machine shop operations, Heaven said “everything is not rosy all the time, but you have to have a positive attitude.”