Saint Lucia’s best know locally owned company marked its 79th year of incorporation on Saturday November 25th.
The corporate giant was incorporated by its founder Sir Joseph Quintin Charles on his birthday November 25th in 1944 as World War II was about to shift momentum with the allies apparently defining victory as ‘completely vanquishing Germany and Japan”.
Sir Joseph would have been 115 had he lived to November 25th, 2023.
He was born in Soufriere in 1908 and in 1920 won a scholarship to St. Mary’s College.
After graduation J. Q. Charles apprenticed at Monplaisir and Company. There, he learnt all about the wholesale and retail business and developed an interest in shipping.
He eventually set up his own business “trading in produce and fruit which he shipped to Canada on ‘Lady Boats’ during the war years”.
The Crusader’s George Odlum paid tribute to the business icon describing him as “individualistic, introvert, adventurous and thrifty”, a man who’ held his own counsel’ was ‘no seeker after fame’, ‘no social gadfly’ but was ‘single-mindedly a seeker after fortune’.
Sir Joseph was ‘not given to self-indulgence or any hint of consumerism’. He ‘felt that imported jam was a luxury that he should not indulge in while local guava jelly is available’.
Odlum adds that ‘While St. Lucians were busy adjusting to the deprivation and inconveniences brought about by the depression during World War Two, J. Q. pulled off a master deal by purchasing the Choc estate for the sum of 8000 pounds sterling in 1941’.
Odlum’s Crusader tribute to Sir J. Q. Charles, who was knighted in 1985 continues: “His progress in the business world was slow, sure-footed and relentless, underpinned by some homespun philosophy’. J. Q. Charles lived by the axiom that – “It’s not the amount of profit you make in business, it’s the amount of it you can save”