Construction stalwart gets honorary doctorate: Sieunarine Coosal's success after sacrifice

Construction stalwart Sieunarine Coosal says his motivating factor and ultimate success is the ability to provide employment to thousands of people who brought a wide array of skill sets to the Coosal Group’s operations.  Photo by Sureash Cholai
Construction stalwart Sieunarine Coosal says his motivating factor and ultimate success is the ability to provide employment to thousands of people who brought a wide array of skill sets to the Coosal Group’s operations. Photo by Sureash Cholai

On receiving his honorary doctorate from UWI, Sieunarine Coosal said the loyalty and support of his family and employees played a big part in his success.

Coosal, an entrepreneur, is the executive chairman of the Coosal’s Group of Companies and a philanthropist.

He received the award of honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) as one of 14 people across the region to receive the award for UWI’s 2021 graduating year.

He said his primary motivating factor and assuredly greatest joy and ultimate success was the ability to provide employment to thousands of people who brought a wide array of skill sets to the group’s operations.

“It is an honour, and I am humbled to have been chosen as one of the recipients of this prestigious title. During the many years in business, I have seen many peaks and valleys, but I am proud of my accomplishments and stand proudly behind the brand.

“My tireless efforts could not have materialised without the support and loyalty of my family and dedicated employees. My story of perseverance, hard work and sacrifice in the face of major challenges is the foundation of where I am today.”

Coosals Group of Companies has been around for almost 60 years and consists of Coosal's Construction Co Ltd, Coosal's Concrete Ltd, Coosal's Blocks (Caribbean) Ltd, Coosal's Sand & Gravel Ltd and Coosal's Integrated Security Services Ltd.

Sieunarine Coosal, executive chairman of the Coosal's Group of Companies. Photo by Sureash Cholai

The group also owns and runs the largest privately-owned limestone quarry in Maracas, St Joseph and a sand and gravel quarry in Tapana, Valencia. Its head office is in Madras Settlement, Chin Chin,Cunupia.

Coosal said the group was supported by a cadre of professionals who were knowledgeable and experienced, champions of teamwork for further development, diversification and growth.

“Continuous training and motivation are integral to the success of any business. The industry standard for all projects dictates a collaboration across a myriad of disciplines, ideas, opinions, and personalities for a well-rounded employee and it is unequivocal; the most valuable asset of any business is its human capital.”

As the covid19 pandemic continues, Coosal said economic recovery relied on the need for businesses to digitalise, innovate and maximise technology and resources as best as possible to stay afloat.

Coosal has been a stalwart in the construction industry and has served as president of the Quarry Association and Contractors Association, executive director of the TT Manufacturers' Association, chairman of the Joint Consultative Council, president of the Asphalt Pavers Association, and a member of the Advisory Committee on the Quarrying and Construction Sectors appointed by Cabinet.

A story of perseverance

Coosal, the youngest of 14 siblings, grew up in Todd’s Road, Caparo, a village that at the time had a rich sugarcane and agricultural background.

His father died when he was 18 months old, and his family was raised by his mother, Basso Persad, whose wisdom, strength and self-sacrificing love developed his character, he said.

“Basso and her elder sons and daughters toiled in the sugarcane fields and reared animals to provide for the large family. The family’s income was also supplemented by a parlour, which she operated opposite Todd’s Road RC Primary School.”

In this 2019 file photo, Guardian Life president Anand Pascal presents the Business Hall of Fame award to Coosal’s Group of Companies chairman Sieunarine Coosal at the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce's Champions of Business Awards ceremony at NAPA, Port of Spain. Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Coosal said his eldest brother Ajodha, also called Joe, managed the family’s small quarry and transport company and was also his father figure and mentor.

The business was established when Coosal was 14, and after leaving school he worked in the business as an office boy, which led to roles in administration, finance and other areas.

“The culmination of these (events) propelled me to be a dynamic and successful businessman, with my primary focus not only to assist employees by affording them an opportunity to provide a better way of living for their families, but also to contribute in some measure to the development of TT.

“Social and economic conditions at birth do not determine one’s future.”

The company had its fair share of challenges, Coosal explained, having gone into receivership in the 1980s, and suffering the death of his brother Joe, which devastated the family.

But, he said, “Coosal stands proud today to state the brand will be maintained for generations to come as my three children show great interest in following in my footsteps.”

Duty and responsibility

Coosal is also a philanthropist and in 2020 was appointed chairman of the Capital Campaign Cabinet of Habitat for Humanity, the fundraising arm of the mission.

He said the vulnerability of losing everything reinforced his commitment to empathise with people in similar circumstances and be a source of encouragement.

“Always honour your corporate social responsibility. This for me is founded on very humble beginnings and is the impetus for our continued fulfilment over the decades.

In this 2019 fil photo Sieunarine Coosal poses for a photo with smiling children, principal and teachers during his company’s Christmas treat at Maracas Presbyterian School, in Acono Road, Maracas St Joseph. Photo by Sureash Cholai

He appreciates “the ability to assist the impoverished and less fortunate," seeing it as part of "a hopefully transformative process in the lives of those well deserving of these efforts.”

Corporate TT, he said, can provide opportunities for a better way of living for families and contribute to the development of the country.

Awards and commendations

1998 – Sieunarine Coosal

Entrepreneur of the year – nominated

2002 – Council of International Awards UK

Coosal's Construction Company Ltd

International Award for Best Performance

2003 – Quarry Association of TT

Coosal's Construction Company Ltd

President's award invaluable contribution – development of the quarry industry of TT

2005 – Quarry Association of TT

Coosal's Construction Company Ltd

President's award for invaluable contribution development of the quarry industry of TT

2009 Quarry Association of TT

Sieunarine Coosal – lifetime membership certificate

2009 Quarry Association of TT

Sieunarine Coosal - commemorative 25th anniversary citation

2014 TT Contractors’ Association

Coosal’s Construction Co Ltd – contractor of the year – finalist

2017 Habitat for Humanity TT

Sieunarine Coosal - Spirit of Humanity award

2018 TT Contractors’ Association

Coosal’s Construction Co Ltd - inducted in the TT contractors’ association hall of fame

2018 TT Contractors’ Association

Coosal’s Construction Co Ltd Longevity Award

2019 TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce

Sieunarine Coosal - inducted in the business hall of fame

2020 Habitat for Humanity TT – Sieunarine Coosal appointed Chairman, Capital Campaign Cabinet

2020 Quarry Association of TTT

Coosal's Construction Company Limited- best operated hard rock quarry - six consecutive years

2020 Quarry Association of Trinidad and Tobago

Coosal's Construction Company Limited- best operated sand and gravel quarry - six consecutive years

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