Freeport, Grand Bahama – Husband and wife team Bruce and Mora Chee-a-Tow are one of several business owners in Grand Bahama now exploring new ways to improve operations following an official visit by Financial Services and Industry Minister Ryan Pinder to their Island Bedding warehouse.
“We’ve been in business for nine years and it’s the first time anyone [in government] has ever come to see us,” said Mr. Chee-a-Tow. “This is fantastic because he wants to help us continue making people happy, which is all we want to do.”
The Chee-a-Tow’s are Grand Bahama’s only bedding manufacturer, with a 100 percent Bahamian owned warehouse in Freeport’s bonded area. With six full-time employees, the Chee-a-Tow’s have not been without their challenges in current economic conditions.
Presently, Island Bedding competes with mattresses imported into the country from the U.S. They are currently communicating with the Minister ways in which the business environment they operate under can be improved.
Key to these upgrades, said Mr. Pinder, will be the reinstatement of the Light Industries Encouragement Act, which waives government duties on manufacturing materials. He toured the facilities recently in an effort to get a better understanding on how he can facilitate a thriving industry on the island through businesses like the manufacturer.
“Their main concern was that the concessions under the Industries Encouragement Act has expired,” said the Minister. “We were discussing the possibility of creating a perpetual concession so that they can expand in other islands.”
Mr. Chee-a-Tow asserts that it is in the best interest of Bahamian consumers to patronize businesses like his, given Island Bedding’s high quality mattresses and box springs can be customized even after delivered.
“If our customers are not happy, we can readjust their mattresses for them,” he said. “No one else can do that after they’ve shipped it to them. We like making people happy.”
Minister Pinder said consultation will continue with the industrial sector in Grand Bahama to better things on the island.
“It is a part of our mandate to listen and hear what opportunities exist,” he said. “And that’s what I am doing.”