By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A contractor, which advertises itself as “fast becoming the go-to” builder at Abaco’s Baker’s Bay development, was yesterday confirmed to be under investigation for alleged non-payment of Bahamian workers.
Robert Farquharson, the Government’s director of labour, told Tribune Business his department is conducting a probe into the claims surrounding Endeavor Development International but declined to comment further for fear it might prejudice the outcome.
“The Department of Labour is conducting an investigation but I’m unable to give any comments on that matter at this time,” he replied to this newspaper’s inquiries. “That is a matter before me and I will not have discussions about it in the media until we complete the investigation. That is a matter that involves an ongoing investigation by the Department of Labour.”
Mr Farquharson spoke after Clint Watson, the Prime Minister’ press secretary, yesterday singled out Endeavor as a situation that the Prime Minister’s Office is investigating. Suggesting that worker grievances, which involve some allegedly not being paid “going back” as far as September 2022, had first surfaced on social media, he added that the Prime Minister had sought to intervene in the matter with his office reaching out to company officials.
“This government will not allow foreign investors or anyone for that matter to take advantage of Bahamian workers and vendors,” Mr Watson said, although he was unable to provide any details such as how many workers have been affected and the total sum owing. This newspaper understands that the non-payment may stem from a dispute between Endeavor and some of its sub-contractors, although that could not be confirmed before press time last night.
Tribune Business sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk publicly, yesterday suggested that Endeavor was a Bahamas-domiciled entity that was licensed to operate in this nation even though its website shows a Miami headquarters. Efforts to reach the company through contacts listed on its site proved fruitless, as the e-mail address bounced back while the phone number went straight to an unknown voice mail.
Baker’s Bay’s switchboard told this newspaper that the company was no longer operating at the project. Endeavor’s website says it was founded in 1995, and now has offices in San Diego and The Bahamas. No contacts were provided for either office, with The Bahamas’ address listed as 123 Queen Elizabeth Drive, Marsh Harbour, Abaco.
It is thought that Endeavor’s Bahamian operation is a joint venture with locals. A government press release, dated November 30, 2021, hailed the company for creating “sustainable employment and an economic shot in the arm for Abaco” as it met Keith Bell, minister of labour and Immigration, at his East Bay Street offices.
“The Endeavor team spoke of [their] ongoing commitment to build high end and luxurious homes on Abaco, and recruiting efforts to have talented and highly-qualified Bahamians join the world class company,” said the release, which is still available on the Government’s website.
“Minister Bell commended Endeavor for its demonstrated confidence in the Bahamian economy and relentless pursuit to train and engage Bahamians at all levels. Endeavor’s delivery of an excellent product that continues to place Abaco on the world stage as a second home mecca has created sustainable employment and an economic shot in the arm for Abaco.”
The photo accompanying the release hinted strongly at Endeavor having joint ventured with Bahamians. Edward Hanna was named as its president, and shown in the photo, while Trevor Carey was said to be the logistics chief. Tribune Business sought to contact Mr Hanna for comment but, while the voice message identified the number as his, no one answered and this newspaper’s messages were not returned.
Endeavor’s website says of the company: “Endeavor is a general contracting firm that specialises in the construction and renovation of new luxury homes, hospitality and commercial projects. Endeavor’s combined experience of over 50 years has included the completion of hundreds of projects from $500,000 to $15m in project value.
“Endeavor projects have included custom luxury homes in the continental US, as well as Caribbean islands, such as The Bahamas and Cat Cay. Hospitality projects have included select and full service properties such as Hampton Inn, Marriott, Hilton, Springhill Suites, Hyatt, LaQuinta, Homewood Suites, Home2 and other major brands.”
As to the present, the website added: “Endeavor’s ability to overcome the challenges of working in an international market has made us a well-regarded and in-demand contractor. We are able to compete with other contractors, and we are fast becoming the go-to contractor in Baker’s Bay, Bahamas. Our performance in getting our crews mobilised and materials in these remote locations exceeds our clients’ expectations.”
Tribune Business sources yesterday said Endeavor was contracted by various homeowners to construct residential properties at Baker’s Bay and not by the developer itself. They added of the worker payment situation: “This has been going on for a while. It has been brought to the Government’s attention. The Government has been aware of this for a while.
“It’s unfortunate it has happened. It is a real situation, but I don’t know how many are involved and the sums. I hope the subs get paid. If they’ve done the work they ought to be paid.”