‘Be wise’ – Guyana Electric encourages homeowners, businesses to use licensed electricians
Known locally as Fix It Electrical, the company initially started by a man and his friends several years ago is about to take off.
With Keon Howard’s cross-continent experience and passion for safety and his wife, Michelle Howard’s, commitment to ensuring a well-rounded and successful business, the company is up for incorporation and will soon be known as Guyana Electric.
But as the family-owned business enters this new phase, the couple has ringing advice for Guyanese homeowners and commercial entities.
That is to “be wise” and ensure that licensed skilled tradesmen and women are selected when pursuing residential and commercial electrical installations or upgrades.
By so doing, the safety passionate couple hopes it will also push local electricians to ensure they are certified.
Keon currently offers volunteer classes at the Guyana Police Force through an arrangement with the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) where he is the Chairman of the Construction and HSSE Committee.
Howard believes that along with a lack of skilled trade in the electrical field, there is also an absence of licensed tradesmen and women.
“We have more unlicensed than licensed,” he said in a recent interview with the News Room.
Persons can approach the government’s Inspectorate Office to become licensed for skilled trade.
“I would say using a licensed electrical contractor saves you money and saves time. If you use unlicensed electricians, they will need a licensed electrical contractor to certify the work.
“… the electrical code book is constantly upgraded. Would an unlicensed electrician know that? I don’t know,” Howard explained.
He recounts being called several times to rectify electrical shortcomings on buildings but said another challenge is that persons upgrading old buildings are leaving electrical panels unchecked altogether.
That, coupled with the selling and purchasing of substandard materials, is a recipe for disaster.
As such, Howard along with the GCCI, the Guyana National Bureau of Standard (GNBS), and the Brokers Association have been addressing the issue.
Michelle bears out her husband’s passion and his commitment to safe electrical work.
She too encourages homeowners to choose safety and standard first.
“Not only electrical but also plumbing… people just need to be wise,” she says.
The couple explains that they are on the verge of changing the company’s name from Fix It Electrical to Electric Guyana.
Howard explained that at age 16 he started a small business with friends and later migrated to Canada where he studied and opened the business under the same name.
But with the growth of the business locally, the name has posed some challenges.
“There is another business with a similar name and we wouldn’t be allowed to incorporate, hence we are changing the name.”
Now offering residential and commercial services, the company hopes to break into the industrial market and soon serve big clients, particularly in the oil and gas industry.
According to Michelle “the reason we are changing the name is that we felt there was brand confusion and in the process of accelerating growth we decided on the name change to reflect a company that is growing and going places.
Michelle and Keon are going into this new phase with a new focus following Michelle’s participation in Accelerate-Her: a business entrepreneurship programme by the Centre for Local Business Development (CLBD) offering an exciting opportunity for Guyanese women to access business acceleration
“The hope from the programme is that you can grow your business by learning unique business strategies.
“To be honest, the program is designed to help women who have businesses to get their crap together. It’s not just about owning a business, there are strategic aspects,” Michelle explained.
She said the program has helped her to understand the importance of all aspects of the business being equally strong.
“People take some of these things for granted because sometimes you’re the CEO, the accountant and so much.
“I leave the program knowing they have helped me to be strategically thinking about all aspects of the business that will ultimately give me growth and puts me in a position to understand it’s not a hobby – you’re there to make money.”