They crumble under the pressure of a finger, and sometimes disintegrate after heavy rainfall, as building owners and renters alike rage over the poor quality. Disgust over poor-quality concrete blocks that are more sand than concrete is a feeling that many Guyanese, including Mahadeo Panchu, know well, having wasted their money on shoddily made products. But Panchu with his KSM Investments Inc is aiming to change all that.“My business is a very unique one,” he says, “simply because there is none otherMahadeo Panchulike mine in Guyana or the Region. We have embarked on a mission to “revolutionise the concrete products sector in Guyana”. And, we are underway with that ‘revolution’. In this, the 21st Century, we see buildings being constructed with hollow blocks with as much as 97 per cent sand. This, I believe, is criminal. On the other hand, we have fellow Caricom nations trying to `recolonise’ us with their products, better than what we have been accustomed to in Guyana, but still very poor…“The fact is that I have spent many years in rice export and shipping, but took a leap into an area of business which was alien to me. I took the calculated risk of investing in my concrete products plant, because I saw a dire need for the type of world-class products we currently manufacture.”From its aptly chosen logo to its products, KSM Investments exudes an aura of solidity, strength, and permanence. And its lifetime guarantee makes that explicit. The concrete products manufacturing, import and distribution company offers cement, pavers, and vent and hollow blocks, all with the exception of the first engineered and proudly made in Guyana.Its brightly lit, beautifully designed sign and display rise boldly above the East Coast Demerara Highway drawing the eye to the huge factory at Plot “MP”, 8 Good Hope. Inside the modern, state-of-the-art factory – the only one of its kind in the Caribbean, fully-automated machines turn sifting, stone, industrial grade cement and white sand into Rock Solid Hollow Blocks, DuraLast Vent Blocks and EverLast Pavers, in a wide variety of designs and colours, for the wholesale and retail markets. They also produce curbstone and foundation blocks.As KSM’s satisfied customers have attested, the quality of the products is outstanding. These are no ‘sandcrete’ blocks. The company adds that there is no need to fill-in or plaster its blocks, which are four times as strong as machine blocks and won’t break or crumble easily while costing less. That’s good news for both home owners and contractors.Panchu, the Chairman and CEO of KSM Investments, started on his journey to provide the best concrete products in Guyana in 2013, pouring long hours and much investment into the company, which was officially launched on April 15, 2017, with actual production starting in November 2015.It was a long and rocky road, beset with labour challenges, power supply issues and a lack of Government support, for the veteran businessman, who initially wanted to start a state-of-the art rice mill. However, a business trip to Germany opened his eyes to the possibilities of a local concrete products plant.“On that trip, I saw the technology… I realised there and then that we needed to have such a facility in Guyana to raise the bar on concrete products in our country. I recognised then, that such a facility will be critical if we are to modernise and move our country forward.”After he visited several similar plants in Germany, China and Brazil, Panchu and his wife, Shanta, decided to go ahead and establish the company.In highlighting his main challenge, the entrepreneur stressed that “the Private Sector cannot operate its businesses in isolation of the State. If the Government (the chief spender in the economy) is not willing and committed to supporting initiatives such as mine, then does it make any sense investing in my country?”Seeing his blocks used throughout the country and on Government projects are among the many goals of this patriotic Guyanese, who pointed out that a few days ago, a $97 million monument project in Berbice came tumbling down owing to the poor quality of the “sand block”.The father of one posed some hard questions about the engineering and quality control shortfalls that continue to cost the country money.“When are we going to learn?” Panchu, who is very passionate about getting value for money, asked. The former student of Bygeval Secondary School and the University of Guyana, who grew up in De Hoop, Mahaica, ECD, learnt early the importance of discipline, hard work, and education.“We were poor, but … we had great parents and grandparents, whose collective focus was our education as the vehicle for poverty alleviation and for us to be independent.”Panchu’s English Literature teacher at Bygeval Secondary, Ms Audrey Payne from Buxton (now deceased), also played an important role in his destiny and his son, Arvind, whom he described as a great kid, continues to provide inspiration.Panchu, who said independence and self-alleviation from poverty were the other reasons why he started a business, advised budding entrepreneurs: If you are not prepared to make sacrifices, do not start your own business, as owning a business means working 24/7; the ladder of success can be the most difficult of all ladders to climb, so be prepared for sleepless nights and less family time, sometimes; and, you must be able to deal with stress.He added: “Guyana is on the threshold of a takeoff. This takeoff has been slowed done due to local economic pressures. This is not a long-term problem and I believe that in the not-too-distant future, economic progress will once again be accelerated in Guyana.”Like the company says: Think…Strength…Think…Value…Think…Quality…Think…Beauty.Contact: Plot “MP”, 8 Good Hope Public Road, East Coast Demerara; 220-7329; 691-1723;673-2297; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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