Editors' Forum | Lascelles Chin: Dedicated to helping
He describes himself as the poor Chinese boy who grew up in rural Manchester, cooked dumplings with workmen and fished for crayfish in the river of Balaclava, St Elizabeth.
Since then, he has scaled the heights to the pinnacle of production, manufacturing, and distribution in Jamaica and is the dynamo behind LASCO Affiliated Companies.
But Lascelles Chin remains governed by a conscience of humility and gratitude, and has no difficulty giving back to Jamaica, which he says has been good to him.
Now Chin, a diminutive man of Chinese extract who embraces his Jamaican roots, has for years been giving opportunities and public recognition to many of the nation’s marginalised and maligned while offering opportunities for improvement.
“I was a poor boy. I grew up in the country. Jamaica has helped me a lot. I am Chinese, but I am more Jamaican than Chinese. I just happen to have a Chinese background. I don’t know much about China when I visit,” Chin told a Gleaner Editors’ Forum last Thursday.
“I know what it is to be poor. I used to be in Kendal (Manchester). I used to go to the Balaclava riverside, shoot bird, and cook dumplings with all the workmen, and so on,” added Chin.
Humbled by poverty and hunger, Chin pushed for the stars, and now that he has achieved his dreams with the LASCO team, he is determined to help as many Jamaicans as possible.
“I admire Jamaicans. And I have to give back to Jamaica, and that is the reason why I start the business, but I start it with common sense. I am catering for poor people. So I make my products lowest price and best quality,” Chin told the forum.
“I am successful and I work hard. Teachers who helped me, police who protect us, and nurses who look after us in hospital. I have to give back to Jamaica. I can’t be selfish,” added Chin.
He recounted how the late former Prime Minister Michael Manley reportedly once said that Jamaica needed 10 Lascelles Chin. A comment that still makes him proud and one he underscores with his commitment to helping the less fortunate.
“What you do with the money. I have to help people. I mean I’m going to dead lef it, if I don’t utilise it,” said Chin, as he argued that the aim is only to make sufficient profit to sustain hiss business.
CHASED FROM BANK
He recounted how, in the early days, he begged bank managers to loan him money, and told Gleaner editors and reporters of one instance when he was chased from a bank as he tried to get a loan of £1,000.
“De man run me, and that was at Independence. He said, ‘if you want to waste your money, go ahead, but I am not taking chance with my money to go lend it to you’. I mean that’s the way it went. And now, it is the banks coming to me fi lend me money,” quipped Chin.
He argued that many Jamaicans only need a chance to take on the difficult task of doing business in Jamaica.
“Sometimes to do business in Jamaica is not easy. ... By the time you go through all the red tape to make a success you are really tired. But you really have to have the empathy for the Jamaican people, who are really fantastic people.
“Plenty of them don’t have the opportunity, and I feel I could have been like them, if I didn’t get the opportunity,” said Chin.
“I don’t forget. And I like to help. And when I hear they are making success of their opportunities, it is fantastic. It motivates me to do more,” he added.
According to LASCO boss, one of his peeves is whining and complaining businessmen who make money at the expense of poor people, but who do not give back.
“Is the poor people why they become successful, between who is working for them, and who buy their products,” declared Chin, as he added that he offers assistance without expecting anything in return.
“I help a lot a people. I help people not to look for returns. But if they are honest, hard-working, not a scammer, and if they don’t think they have to go on bad and cuss bad words,” said Chin.
The business mogul also offered a word of advice to young Jamaicans, as he urged them to stay in school and make the best of their educational opportunities.