Sieunarine Persad Coosal, group executive chairman and MD of the Coosal’s Group of Companies, was inducted into the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce's Business Hall of Fame, during a gala awards ceremony at NAPA, Port of Spain, last Friday. The following is a profile of Coosal, chronicling his career, his company and achievements.
Sieunarine Coosal grew up in the mainly agricultural village of Todds Road, Chaguanas.
His father died when he was a toddler, and his mother ensured that he and his siblings were raised with sound morals and values.
"Even though we struggled financially, there was a common thread that bound us as one – family and love," he shared in his address at the TT Chamber awards.
After completing his O-Level, he joined Coosal’s as the office boy, an opportunity which allowed him to learn the business at all levels.
"On the job I was taught how to 'do the books' and every other aspect of the business," he said in his address at the Chamber awards.
"In those days there were no fancy titles. There was a job to do and you had to get it done. The passion and sense of accomplishment were fulfilling."
Coosal’s started as a trucking company, then it acquired a limestone quarry, expanding its operations. Forty years on, its services include manufacturing concrete blocks, ready-mixed concrete, asphalt and infrastructure development.
Without the benefit of tertiary education – neither professional, management or technical training – when championed with the task, Coosal was able to successfully steer the Coosal Group to further development, diversification and growth with an extensive and impressive cadre of practical knowledge and experience – but not without its fair share of difficulties along the way.
His wife Sintra and their children Tricia, Rajiv and Shivaa have stood steadfastly by his side.
In every aspect of his life, he shows the same level of passion, and worked tirelessly to achieve his current portfolio.
One of the primary life experiences for him which might be considered his greatest joy and ultimate success is that despite his very humble beginnings, he possessed the ability to provide employment to thousands of people who have been with, and who currently provide their service to the group.
Through challenges in the 80s of the debilitating setback of receivership – being made bankrupt – through extreme personal sacrifices, the resolve to succeed and strong business acumen, a new entity was realised. In 1991, the Coosal brand was restored.
The experience had reduced the directors, along with a handful of loyal employees, almost to destitution, but, along with a complement of additional technical staff, through their unwavering support and sheer determination they pursued all available avenues for redress and recovery, and collectively had the resolve for recovery. The vulnerability of losing everything reinforced Coosal's ability to empathise with people with similar experiences.
Coosal exercised shrewd business judgement in any and every decision made.
"Per ardua ad astra," he said in his address. The Latin phrase translates: through difficulty to success.
"I believe strongly that such is a reflection of my business acumen and my success."
Today, he stands proudly behind the brand name which has afforded him the opportunity to give back to society, to hold steadfast to his mother’s words and a promise to himself to as best as possible assist those in need.
As a corporate citizen, the Coosal's group receives countless requests for varying needs, from very small individual needs, to request for assistance for life-threatening medical conditions from a myriad of organisations.
"We are able to create an impact or change the lives of the impoverished, those in education, the differently abled, the elderly," said Coosal.
Over the years, the group partnered with its fenceline community and, by extension, has facilitated numerous ventures geared to assist in the development of the social fabric, by a small measure, when compared to the magnitude of the needs of so many.
The group has assisted several projects undertaken by various schools, supplying concrete, concrete blocks and paving of schoolyards. More recently, concrete blocks were supplied to the Madras Government Primary School and ready-mixed concrete for the construction of its music room.
This initiative allows another avenue to the school children for their holistic development, their musical talent and equally important, to integrate culture in their education.
Several schools received sponsorship for varying ventures, notably the newly air-conditioned principal's office and a public address system for the Maracas Presbyterian School. In addition, complementary road repair and clean-up exercises were completed throughout the country over the years.
Coosal also partnered with Angostura during the launch of their Legacy by Angostura, which provided support to the well-deserving non-profit organisation the National Centre for Persons with Disabilities, an institution which helps people who are less fortunate and are faced with several challenges.
Another initiative he fully supports and contributes to is the movement under the umbrella of Habitat for Humanity, which since 1997 made a commitment to assist with the provision of decent shelter to citizens with limited resources.
In addition, the organisation also provides training in financial management, technical and life skills, housing initiatives and disaster risk reduction programmes for citizens. They accomplish these feats where a myriad of cultures, social beliefs, political affiliation come together to assist people in an effort to break the cycle of poverty.
In support of this movement, Coosal contributed significantly – tangible and intangible to the cause over the years. In that regard, he serves on the Cabinet Advisory Board of Habitat for Humanity.
Another humbling situation countless citizens are faced with annually is the effects of flooding. The group has provided heavy equipment for clearing of drains and landslides and hampers to affected families on countless occasions – more recently the devastating floods experienced in its own hometown as thousands of homes were completely inundated with water and debris. The group has taken the initiative to provide relief to those in times of need. In addition to the provision of basic foodstuff and use of heavy equipment in cleaning efforts, a free medical clinic was held to bring some measure of relief to the residents of Madras and surrounding areas.
Sieunarine Coosal has also partnered with the Salvation Army for the Salvation Army Annual Christmas Kettle and Mail Appeal. The Salvation Army’s efforts include several social services as well as to respond to disasters and provide practical support, and hopefully to extend further. The targets this year include to distribute 1,000 food parcels to needy families; distribution of care packages to hospitals, infirmaries and children’s homes; and a Christmas party for 200 children.
In his closing remarks, to the awards audience, Coosal summed up his commitment to service.
"My sense of duty to my country, its institutions and its future will never diminish."
Coosal's Construction Co Ltd
2002: Council of International Awards UK – International Award for Best Performance
2003/2005: Quarry Association's president's award – invaluable contribution to the development of the quarry industry
2014: Programme for Upgrading Roads Efficiency – excellence on quality, large category
2017: Habitat for Humanity – Spirit of Humanity Award
2018: TT Contractors’ Association – inducted in the TTCA Hall of Fame
Sieunarine Persad Coosal
• Former president of the Quarry Association
• Former TT Contractors Association president
• Former chairman of the Joint Consultative Council on the building industry
• Former president of the Quarry Association
• President of the Asphalt Pavers Association
Below are some organisations Coosal’s has partnered with:
Acono Village Council
Bridge of Hope
Dattatreya Yoga Centre
Down Syndrome Family Network
Engineering Institute, UWI for Faculty of Engineering
International School of Port of Spain
Maracas Presbyterian School
Rotary Club of Maracas St Joseph
St Augustine Girls’ High School
St Mary’s Children’s Home
The Lakshmi Narayan Temple
The UWI Endowment Fund
Todd’s Road Hindu Temple