WITH former state oil company Petrotrin shuttered, one of its former service providers has had to reinvent itself by offering new products and services to the wider Caribbean region.
IEM Sales and Services Ltd, based in Debe, has previously been service providers of instrumental electrical and mechanical services. Today, the company offers services such as technical labour supply, operational and maintenance of equipment, automation robotics, integrated project management, procurement and logistic supply, welding and fabrication, crane sales and maintenance, estate management and more.
Speaking with Business Day at the company's headquarters in Debe, IEM’s managing director Reza Mohammed said the company started in a small, rented office from which it operated for years before it purchased the building.
He said being in business has a lot to do with planning, and now the company has rebranded itself after finding innovative ways to survive in the industry, and its business continues to expand regionally.
“We always had a vision for expansion in the region, but what the closure of Petrotrin has caused us to do is to fast forward our planning and, in addition, it has caused us to divert our resources in the region to make this plan a reality.”
The company has learnt to take risks and employees have always gone the extra mile.
"We started IEM 18 years ago and now we are a world-class company, providing goods and services to the energy sector on par with technology. We recognise that we had to have some values and one of those is customer service to the highest standard. We pride ourselves in customer satisfaction." He recalled that when the company was launched there was a staff of three which grew to 25 today.
When the government announced it would be closing Petrotrin last September, Mohammed said staff did not dwell on sorrows. Instead, the team got together and came up with strategies to move forward. "We started doing research and then we got (down) to business, exploring other avenues."
Business development manager Samuel Wilson said Petrotrin's closure did result in a decline. "We knew we had to think outside the box and so we began looking at blue ocean strategies to revive the company."
After months of market research they were able to able to begin offering their services in the various fields. Today marks one year since the company embarked on its new journey, and despite minor hurdles its clientèle continues to grow.
Wilson said the company has set up in Suriname and Guyana. "We are also doing business in Barbados, but our major business is in Guyana because of all the oil opportunities there. Guyana is in a position like TT was 45 years ago."
Wilson said the team is also working on other initiatives, among them, managing a port facility in Guyana, housing opportunities, the sale of tyres and selling chemicals.
Director of finance Lilian Mohammed said when IEM was started 18 years ago it was a shot in the dark. It had invested a lot into Petrotrin and did not foresee its sudden closure.
"Our company is based on performance and we were able to land some lucrative contracts with Petrotrin. Then industries started requesting our services and it has been a roller-coaster. But I can say right now, we have weathered the storm and have now diversified to stay in business according to the needs of the industry, and also venture into the Caribbean region and regionally."
Part of her job portfolio includes charting the regions, looking for business opportunities.
"With God as the driver, IEM will continue growing." She encouraged other companies faced with challenges and difficult times to not give up but think outside the box.
"After Petrotrin closed its doors we could have closed our business as well, but we did not, so don’t give up."