–facility to house new HQ, MACORP University, other operations
–total employment to reach close to 600 in five years
ONE of Guyana’s leading suppliers of heavy-duty machinery and equipment, Machinery Corporation of Guyana Limited (MACORP), in positioning itself to service Guyana’s growing economy, will be constructing a US$25 million (approximately G$5.4 billion) mega complex at Covent Garden, on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD).
During its almost 28 years of operation in Guyana, MACORP– the only authorised dealer of Caterpillar products in Guyana — has been very active in this country’s development, contributing directly to local advancement through technical support and the provision of equipment which is supplied to the most important productive sectors, namely mining, agriculture, construction, marine, forestry and electric power generation. An aggregation of the impact of those sectors on Guyana’s economy would basically reflect a large portion of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a component of the nation which is projected to surge tremendously in the coming years.
The country’s GDP, as stated by the World Bank, is US$5.4 billion. But progress in Guyana’s burgeoning oil-and-gas-sector and increased economic activities are expected to push that figure way beyond what it is now.
In recognising the prospects that are on the horizon, MACORP has spared no bone in making the necessary investments to ensure that it is well positioned to absorb the potential opportunities and even serve as a conduit for other businesses to benefit from the bounties.
One of the company’s first steps towards expansion was the procurement of 25 acres of land at Covent Garden, in 2019.
“We made this investment because we would have to expand our operations to cater for the growth that is expected in the years to come. We have been trying to a find a suitable location where we would be able to expand the operations to the way we saw it fit to serve the Guyanese public, and to help grow the economy. And, after a long search, the opportunity presented itself in this plot of land,” Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Human Resources Manager of the MACORP Group, Anita Ramprasad, said during an exclusive interview with the Guyana Chronicle at MACORP’s Providence Headquarters, on Tuesday.
In further speaking about the company’s initial move, Ramprasad said: “It was debatable whether we wanted to make such a sizeable investment a mere distance away from our current location, especially with our very limited level of infrastructure. But, one thing about this company is, no decision that we make here is ever based on what we see happening today or what has happened in the past. We try to look forward; where do we see ourselves, this country and the economy within the next five to 15 years.”
From all indications, Guyana’s entire landscape and infrastructure will change in a very short space of time. So, MACORP, with this in mind, decided to go ahead and invest in 25 acres of land at Covent Garden. In the initial phase of the potential development, the company will utilise approximately 12 acres of land for the construction of a conjoined, state-of-the-art five-section complex which will house its new corporate office and other facilities which will offer services to every productive sector in Guyana.
“The state-of-the-art complex will match the Caterpillar dealerships worldwide. The building that we are in was inherited and we tried to match that, but as far as standards go, the only thing we have been able to match is the colour of paint. There is nothing world-class really about the current look of the company; the service is world-class.
“We want the world-class service to be matched by a world-class look. The new offices will be completely state-of-the-art… in Caterpillar world, it has a lot to do with the logistics of the office and the aesthetic of it… it will be the kind of environment which will make workers happy and enhance customer experience, which is important to the caterpillar network, globally,” Ramprasad said. A design of the complex was drafted two years ago but, based on the company’s vision and changes in the economy in terms of opportunities, MACORP was forced to rethink the initial concept; a new design is being finalised. While a design is in the works, the company is certain about the facilities which will comprise the five-section complex.
According to Ramprasad, in addition to administrative offices, the complex will include a massive warehouse. “We already have a multi-billion dollar inventory, so this new complex will be designed in a way to cater for all the different types of product lines,” the CFO explained.
Traditionally, the company has been focusing on mining, construction and energy, but the expansion to other productive sectors has necessitated the construction of a larger warehouse.
Not only will there be a larger warehouse, the company will also be creating a massive state-of-the-art machine workshop, which will have greater capacity to disassemble, repair and assemble complex machines. Speaking about plans specific to the workshop, Ramprasad said: “I know there are a few machine shops, but ours will be different, in the sense that it will be a lot more modern. Our equipment is next level, and the machine shop is something Caterpillar prides itself on; it is a precision design.”
Modern equipment and facilities are indeed critical, but it is common knowledge that it takes human resources, in most cases, to make them functional. It is for this reason that MACORP plans to expand its existing training programme by creating its own university at the new complex. “We will have our MACORP University which will cater for all levels of technical education… we have it now, but on a smaller scale, and it is more focused on technician and apprentice level,” Ramprasad explained. The company, through its existing progamme, has been training excavator operators and other technicians; however, the potential expansion will create the space for the training of engineers and other technical persons. Based on an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Guyana (UG), MACORP takes in three students for attachments, but the new facility will increase this number to ten and allow the company to cater for any type of engineer.
“There are technical institutes in Guyana, in all major towns. But after you have graduated from the institute and UG, all you have is a piece of paper and a hope that somebody will hire you… there is no facility in Guyana that integrates that knowledge with practical applications to prepare you for the world of work,” Ramprasad reasoned, adding that MACORP plans to fill this void with its technical university. The existing facility has been serving this purpose to some extent, as it is equipped with labs which afford persons the opportunity to engage in simulations of failure analysis, repairs, and so forth. The plan, however, is to upgrade this programme to have simulations of oil-and-gas-type repairs.
Overall, the entire programme, as said by Ramprasad, is part of the company’s commitment to enhance the technical skills of Guyana’s youth population and give persons a wide range of career options. The company usually hires 90 per cent of the persons who pass through its training programme, and this trend is expected to continue and even expand with the new facility.
As it is now, MACORP has in its employ 215 persons, a number which will increase to about 300 within the next three years and then double in five years, with the increased range of services the company plans to offer. “The most versatile occupation in Guyana would be the technical line, so it is our hope to recruit, train and hire more young people,” Ramprasad said.
In addition to the direct jobs, she explained that the construction phase of the company’s new complex will also be replete with employment opportunities.
Work on this project is scheduled to start in July this year and last for about two years, so, within this time, businesses will be able to capitalise on opportunities at all levels.
Instead of the usual one-contractor approach, the company, as said by its CFO, will be outsourcing services from multiple contractors.
“Businesses can look forward to us putting out Expressions of Interest (EoIs), and, unlike in the oil-and-gas-sector where even if they put in an EoI, there is just a limited pool of people who qualify, ours has no limits to qualifications,” Ramprasad explained.
From the purchase of stones to interior decorating, all stakeholders will be given a fair opportunity to benefit once they are operating legally.
Considering the spin-off and direct benefits of this project, Ramprasad is of the firm view that it will be a highly beneficial partnership with the government and the people of Guyana.
This project is one in a slew of projects which are scheduled for this year. It was reported in December 2020 that the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) was able to facilitate 55 potential investments valuing $276.6 billion within three months, paving the way for the creation of more than 10,000 jobs in 2021 and beyond.
The Guyana Chronicle understands that of the 55 projects to which Go-Invest referred, 28 are local, 25 are Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), and there are two joint ventures.