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Start-Up Targeting $250m Sales Via Repair Exports

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

A Bahamian start-up yesterday said it was targeting $250 million in sales “within the first three years” of exporting its airport runway repair products to the Caribbean, as it works on a contract to overhaul eight Family Island airports.

Allen Albury, managing director for Airport Maintenance Services (AMS), told Tribune Business it had just submitted a $4-$5 million proposal to the Government for repairing, marking and properly equipping airports from North Eleuthera to Acklins.

And AMS, which is a subsidiary of Bahamas Striping, the company started four years ago via a Self-Starters grant, is not confining its ambitions to this nation, Mr Albury said yesterday.

He added that it had already approached the governments in Haiti and the Turks & Caicos about outfitting/maintaining their airports.

Dominic Sturrup, AMS’s chairman and business development director, told Tribune Business that the Caribbean airport market could be worth “$1 billion or more”.

Mr Albury, meanwhile, said that when other countries’ aviation facilities were added to the Bahamas’ 58 airports, there was the basis for a maintenance/repair business that could create “over 2,000 sustainable jobs at peak”.

AMS, which represents a natural extension of Bahamas Striping’s road, sports stadium and parking lot marking business, is also aiming to expand beyond just being a service provider.

With the companies’ new $500,000 shared headquarters at the Soldier Road Industrial Park scheduled for completion in January, Mr Albury said they were looking to manufacture products for domestic use and export.

Apart from concrete kerbs and wheel stops, Bahamas Striping/AMS are also aiming to manufacture Bond-X Green Asphalt Repair and other products.

Estimating that they were forecasting $1 million in annual sales within the Bahamas, Mr Albury said the new head office/manufacturing facility would generate 40 jobs.

And he added that the companies were already seeking more land in anticipation that they might outgrow their new Abundant Life Road premises.

AMS is aiming to build on its first $400,000 airport repair contract, which was signed yesterday (see story Page 3B) with Resorts World Bimini for the upgrade of the South Bimini airport.

Mr Albury said AMS, which was founded four months ago, had spent the past three negotiating the deal, which is a three-phase project set to last 24 months.

The first seven-day phase, surface preparation, has already begun, and AMS will then head into “rejuvenation or re-sealing of asphalt”.

This, Mr Albury said, would ensure the runway could take the weight of aircraft, before AMS then started to lay out the runway markings of centre lines.

Describing the Bimini contract as “definitely the pivotal point” for AMS as it moves forward, Mr Albury told Tribune Business: “The Government has asked us to inspect eight aerodromes.

“We have just submitted the proposal to the Government, and the extent of the work projected for these airports is going to be around $4-$5 million. That’s under consideration now.”

Mr Albury said some of the airports involved were North Eleuthera, Governor’s Harbour, Acklins, Great Harbour Cay and Exuma.

He added that AMS was planning to use an airport-specific product, Rejuva Seal, that was US certified and could preserve asphalt in certain circumstances and save 60 per cent of repair costs.

And AMS was also eyeing maintenance contracts for Family Island airport lighting, a “critical” function that would eliminate the need for runways to be lit by car headlights.

And, not stopping there, Mr Albury said AMS had met with the Haitian ambassador to set up a meeting with Michel Martelly, his president, “to discuss the potential” of supplying airport repair/maintenance services there.

On the manufacturing side, Mr Albury said AMS/Bahamas Striping aimed to take their Bond-X product to the Caribbean

“We’re thinking about, at the least, $250 million within the first three years,” he added of anticipated Bond-X sales for asphalt repairs.

“That’s going to have an impact on employment and training, as we will need people to run the hot mixes,” he added. “It’s going to impact local aggregate companies, as we will buy the aggregate for the finished product locally.”

Estimating that Bahamas Striping/AMS will need 20 office, and 20 manufacturing, staff for a total complement of 40 when the new headquarters opens, Mr Albury said Bond-X had an added attraction in that it was environmentally friendly.

This, he suggested, would be a good fit for the Caribbean’s tourism economies and increasing environmental awareness, as it would not cause harmful products to leech into the ground/ water table when holes in roads were repaired.

“It’s more productive for us to produce Bond-X here than import it, as we will create more jobs,” Mr Albury told Tribune Business.

“We don’t sleep, trust me. We’re looking at this property and saying we might need more. We’re already looking.”

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