Thirty-one-year-old Kendal St Louis is the Chief Executive Officer of Ladnek Limited.
The cleaning company, operating for the last 10 years, has become one of the most sought-after in Trinidad and Tobago amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking with Loop News in the lead up to Good News Day, St Louis recalled life before becoming an entrepreneur. He said he did various jobs to survive, one of which was construction.
Considering himself a hustler, he said while working in the industrial sector, he sold any and everything he could. This was why he became known as the “Black Syrian”. Locally, the Syrian-Lebanese community that migrated to T&T from as early as 1904 became known for entrepreneurship, being involved in real estate development, the manufacturing sector and the fast-food industry according to the NALIS library.
“I used to sell soft drinks, snacks, phone cards, CDs, DVDs. It was like a one-stop-shop for construction workers. So, they didn’t have to go out of the construction site to get anything that they needed, basically. They got everything right there.”
St Louis said he hit a slow period as his construction job stalled. This was when he decided to register Ladnek Contracting Services. Though, to this day, he has no clue exactly what propelled him to change his business to a cleaning company.
Whatever the inspiration, he started marketing Ladnek as a cleaning corporation. His first job came from a friend whose employer sent a request for quotation.
St Louis said he had no knowledge on the standard price for jobs of this nature but he responded to the request anyway and days later, received a purchase order. He had gotten the job.
At the time he had no equipment and no idea what to do next.
He said a family member introduced him to the owner of a cleaning company and they struck a deal; St Louis would work for 10% of the figure and he would get the rest. The man also advised him on how to handle future negotiations.
St Louis then went on several jobs as the guy’s employee, learning the trade and saving to purchase his own equipment one day.
“I bought the equipment. I bout it cash. I basically had it parked up for almost six months with no work.”
He finally got an opportunity and hired his first team, however, he failed miserably. He decided to do research to ensure that he would not fail at the job in future.
“I started practising at home and I basically started to get more jobs again and my practise at home, end up becoming much better so I started to get more confidence in executing the job.”
Now, he has roughly 130 permanent and contract staff.
“At this point in time with corona, I would say that we were one of the leading companies in our field that was able to adapt very quickly to everything that was going on as it relates to sanitation and hygiene. We were one of the first companies to have the electrostatic disinfection service. We also were one of the companies that was able to supply the hand sanitiser dispensers to numerous people in the country.”
Speaking about his focus, St Louis said he has developed routines that he now maintains religiously.
“Let’s just say if 10 distractions come at me, half of a distraction might get my attention, not one.”