A knack for business
O.K. Francis has a knack for business. There's no doubt about that. With a whole lot of hard work, a good deal of common sense and just a hint of luck, Francis, today, sits atop an enterprise that is as diverse as his interests are varied.
Francis' company, Fourth World Investment Corp, has three branches that offer goods and services that appear to have very little in common. He owns Pogas Displays, a company that builds and supplies display fixtures for business places; Safe and Secure Tracking and Technologies, that offers tracking services for motor vehicles; and Haul It Utility Trailers, which constructs trailers for a number of purposes.
'A company for companies'
"We see ourselves as a company for companies," said Francis. Most of his clients for his vehicle-tracking company are rent-a-car businesses and large trucking companies. Meanwhile, his display fixture company is used by many boutiques, garment stores and even supermarkets. They get everything from mannequins to shopping baskets from him.
"We want to ensure that they are able to come to us and get everything they need," Francis said.
With a long-time interest in business, he operated a garment store in St Andrew in the early 1980s, and it was while travelling to the United States to purchase display fixtures that a light bulb went on in his head.
"I said to myself, if I have to travel overseas to get these things, then other companies must need to do the same thing." Francis struck a deal on the spot with the company in Florida to become the authorised dealer for their products in Jamaica. Since then, his business acumen has not failed him.
Francis started the trailer company (the trailers are made at his factory in Kingston) in the hope of generating commerce.
"I figure that people can use the trailers to start companies of their own," he said. And they do. Many of his clients rent or purchase trailers from him, which they then use to hawk a variety of products. The trailers become 'mobile stores'.
"We also have trailers that can hold farmers' produce and then be taken around to sell directly to customers. That eliminates the middle man so they can make a bigger profit," he said.
You might wonder how a vehicle-tracking company fits into this equation. That one was started simply because Francis saw potential in the idea.
"The other (vehicle tracking) companies had to scramble to catch up to the technology that we introduced to Jamaica," said Francis proudly.
He boasts that over the past couple of years, his company has managed to recover about 10 stolen vehicles within two hours each time. Francis said his company uses the most advanced technology available today.
"I do all of these things just because I see the potential. Sometimes all you need is a common-sense approach to business to be successful," he said. Judging by his track record, who could doubt him?
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