Efficient and reliable transport can often mean the difference between success and failure in any type of business, from small retailers to large manufacturers.
But poor road conditions and high crime can discourage courier services from operating in different areas.
While some delivery services may have second thoughts about visiting certain neighbourhoods for work, 26-year-old businessman David Hartman saw an opportunity to fill a niche while providing a valuable service to residents and small businesses.
Speaking with Business Day at his office at Marie Road, Morvant, Hartman said his Hartman Group of Companies and General Construction Ltd was born out of a need to cater to the residents in his area who were underserved.
Hartman began his business by opening his own mini-mart at the beginning of the covid19 pandemic, near his home, in 2020.
While sales slowed during this period, he gradually turned his attention to opening his own construction company, employing young men from his neighbourhood and using his popularity within Morvant, the company evolved from small-scale projects to full construction.
While the transition from mini-mart to construction has been challenging, Hartman said he learned a lot from observing the work of other small contractors.
"It was tedious, as it would be to start any business, but the general principles of managing and operating is something I was accustomed to.
"I paid attention to the other young contractors in my community, so it wasn't that hard to pick up on some lessons. But everything is a learning process, and I love to learn. I'm always open to advice and just willing to soak up the experience."
It was not long after starting his own construction company that Hartman saw the need for transportation.
Some construction items could be transported using his personal vehicle, but materials like gravel, sand and blocks needed heavier vehicles. Beginning in 2021 with one Hyundai H100 van he leased, Hartman saw the potential not only to transport building materials but to offer transport services for anyone in need.
He said between the steep, hilly roads of Morvant and high crime, courier services are often hesitant to make deliveries in the area.
"I have companies from Chaguanas and San Fernando that have customers in Laventille, Morvant and even parts of Diego Martin like Bagatelle that they don't send their drivers to.
"I'm usually the person to go and facilitate the transportation of goods.
"But I'm also trying to break this stigma that we have, so I'm trying to break this barrier to show that everyone can have goods and services and get the same treatment that other communities enjoy."
Hartman said he was lucky enough to have someone who leased him the van and was eventually able to buy it, using the money he made from deliveries.
"I was fortunate to have someone who believed in me a lot and gave me the vehicle to use. It's important for people to have that kind of trust, especially in business. It's one of the things I learned through first-hand experience."
This trust has connected Hartman to a wide range of clients, not only in Morvant but across the country.
Delivering everything from furniture, to lunches and sandbags for flooding, Hartman has not limited himself to one particular cargo, and also uses social media to grow his brand. This wide reach also means that as a small business owner, he has little time for anything outside managing his company. With work days beginning from as early as 5 am, Hartman said 15-hour days have become the norm for him as he focuses on building his brand's presence.
"The transportation activities take up much more time than construction, so sometimes I work 13-hour days, sometimes up to 15-hour days.
"These are long hours, so my time is limited...I sacrifice time and energy, but I think it's a sacrifice worth making."
Even more than taking on every job he can find, Hartman said one of the secrets to his success is being able to provide a quality service people can remember and tell others about.
He said no two jobs are ever the same and he does his best to create a lasting impression on all his clients, no matter what the cargo may be.
"A lot of times people count on you to be there at a particular time because they have important things to do.
"There are things that may get in the way, like traffic, roadblocks and other inconveniences, but people rely on you to be there for them, and you need to make sure that you're there."
As well as simply connecting different communities, Hartman is also dedicated to providing for his own neighbourhood, and uses every opportunity to employ people. He has 15 part-time employees in his construction company and four loaders in his transport business, all of whom are from Morvant.
He also hopes his work can open up more opportunities for businesses to grow and flourish.
"With more transportation, people can get their goods from Point A to Point B easier. They have more efficient access to these things. I hope people can see this and realise that Morvant is just like any other place in Trinidad where people can come to get their business done."
While he's pleased with the progress he has made as a small business owner over the last two years, Hartman hopes to expand his fleet of vehicles as he finalises the payment on a three-tonne truck next year.
The road ahead may not be the easiest, but Hartman is willing to make the trip.