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Proud businessman committed to Portland's growth

Published:Saturday | October 25, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Shoppers at Kamal's Supermarket in Port Antonio, Portland. - Photo by Gareth Davis Sr
Businessman Garfield Sinclair. - Photo by Gareth Davis Sr
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Gareth Davis Sr, Gleaner Writer

One of Portland's founding business operators, Garfield Sinclair, is excited about the services he provides for the wider community in the parish, but remains thankful for the support from customers.

Sinclair, who now operates two supermarkets, a cambio, a gas (service) station, and a wholesale store in the parish capital, made the switch from being a variety store operator around 1992, after heeding to prolonged requests from the people.

"Back then, I sold clothes, shoes, and household products," commented Sinclair. "I started out in the 1970s, when the dollar had real value and crime and violence was at its minimum. I operated a variety store along West Street, which at the time had about 12 employees - comprising mostly females - who managed to attract male spenders to the store. But by 1990, I realised that it was time to wave goodbye and I ventured into new pastures, which was also unfamiliar territory for me," he added.

Kamal's supermarket became a reality in 1992, just across from the previously-operated variety store. But space was a problem. According to Sinclair, he immediately decided to undergo major expansion in order to accommodate the bulk of customers and also to display additional goods.

But like any new business, there were teething pains, and in an attempt to attract and cement customers, weekly giveaways were held, and by 2001, the customer's base had risen tremendously, resulting in the opening of another supermarket, Kamlin, along Harbour Street. As the years unfolded, Sinclair, who by then, had managed to capture the hearts and pockets of consumers, opened the doors of Kamal's Wholesale, Kamal's Cambio, and its latest addition, a gas station.

Today, Sinclair basically sits high in his 'empire' and with support from his wife and son, Kamal, the family business is enjoying real growth in a town where 140 persons are now directly employed at the five establishments.

One of the sore points, however, for Sinclair, is the digging up of the roadway in Port Antonio by workmen assigned to the ongoing water drainage and sewerage project, which has reportedly forced a number of his customers to shop elsewhere, as the ongoing dust nuisance which is compounded by a lingering stench is almost unbearable.

"This is my town and I provide a service to every resident in and around. The last 16 months have been like a nightmare which has affected all my businesses. Nevertheless, I have managed to retain my staff complement, with the exception of two persons. All my workers are customer-oriented and they display a high level of professionalism. I am thankful to the people of this parish for giving me an opportunity in business, and I will forever be grateful," said Sinclair.

rural@gleanerjm.com