Sieunarine Coosal, executive chairman of the Coosal’s Group of Companies, has received an honorary doctorate, the Award of Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) from the University of the West Indies (The UWI).
Coosal, head of one of the leading businesses in the local manufacturing, construction and quarrying industry and a philanthropist known for his enduring assistance to the less fortunate said: “I wish to sincerely thank the council of The UWI for bestowing the Award of Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws on me.
“It is an honour, and I am humbled to have been chosen as one of the recipients of this prestigious title. “During the many years in business, I have seen many peaks and valleys, but I am proud of my accomplishments and stand proudly behind the brand “Coosal’s”. My tireless efforts could not have materialised without the support and loyalty of my family and dedicated employees. My story of perseverance, hard work and sacrifice in the face of major challenges is the foundation of where I am today.”
Very early in life, Sieunarine was presented with the opportunity to earnestly pursue his dreams. An aspiring businessman—energetic and highly motivated, he works tirelessly as chief executive officer of the Coosal’s Group of Companies and still contributes significantly to the construction industry.
He said his primary motivating factor, assuredly his greatest joy and ultimate success, is the ability to employ thousands of persons who bring a wide array of skill sets to the Group’s operations. The Coosal’s brand dates to the exhaustive use of a “pick-axe” as the method to process aggregate, which eventually evolved to state-of-the-art equipment. He proudly stated he is supported by an impressive cadre of professionals who boast extensive knowledge and experience, champions teamwork for further development, diversification and growth.
“Continuous training and motivation are integral to the success of any business,” he said. The industry standard for all projects dictates a collaboration across a myriad of disciplines, ideas, opinions, and personalities for a well-rounded employee and it is unequivocal; the most valuable asset of any business is its human capital.
He declared: “Sometimes the reality may imply there is no light at the end of the tunnel, but I urge, you must develop the mindset ‘failure is not an option. I lived it and it is a harsh reminder of how desolate the road can be at times.”
Coosal said it will require an exponential effort to bolster the economic recovery while we grapple with the effects of this pandemic. As many businesses struggle to stay afloat there will be a great need to digitalise, innovate and maximise technology and resources as best as possible.
He said: “While my story may not be unique as there are many successful persons whose early days were less than ideal and not afforded most of the basic amenities during childhood, I can state proudly, I truly enjoyed my childhood despite my humble beginnings and to achieve this honour of today, this accolade will be eternally cherished.” From spending his childhood days in a humble home in the agricultural village of Todd’s Road, Caparo, with his many siblings, he eventually transformed his family’s small Coosal’s Quarry and Transport Company into an internationally recognised brand.
“Social and economic conditions at birth do not determine one’s future,” he said. Humility and his genuine concern for the less fortunate is the cornerstone for his success and he never forgets where he came from. One takeaway from his journey which propels him, he believes strongly and holds to the cadence “to never give up.”
Coosal’s drive to succeed was a direct result of his very humble beginnings, early exposure to unyielding adversity in his career and many teaching moments. He said: “The culmination of these, propelled him to be a dynamic and successful businessman with my primary focus, not only to assist employees by affording them an opportunity to provide a better way of living for their families but also to contribute in some measure to the development of T&T.”
Coosal was born in a modest home in Todd’s Road, Caparo, in Central Trinidad, the youngest son in a family of 14. His father died when he was just 18 months old and his mother Basso Persad, was left to single-handedly raise 14 children. Coosal’s character development was moulded by his mother’s wisdom, strength and self-sacrificing love. Basso and her older sons and daughters toiled in the sugar cane fields and reared animals to provide for the large family. The family’s income was also supplemented by a parlour she operated opposite the Todd’s Road RC Primary School, the primary school Coosal attended.
Although Coosal could not understand and appreciate it at the time, his eventual love for business was being inculcated in him from the age of seven, when responsibilities were assigned to him in shopkeeping.
His eldest brother Ajodha Persad Coosal, fondly called “Joe” was a father figure and mentor to the young Coosal. Joe managed the family’s Coosal’s Quarry and Transport Company which was established when Coosal was 14 years old. Coosal worked in the business and when he graduated, Joe officially appointed him office boy which he fondly remembered. He said his passion and drive never wavered since that very first official appointment and he was promoted to positions in administration, finance and various other areas.
Without tertiary education or professional business training, Coosal eventually rose to the helm of the company, steering it through sheer business acumen and hard work to become one of the leading businesses in the local construction, manufacturing and quarrying industry. His wife Sintra, and siblings Patty Randol and Manickram Persad, provided unyielding support over the decades. Coosal is confident the brand will be maintained for generations to come, as his three children show great interest in following in his footsteps. The two older children, Tricia and Rajiv, are executive directors in the group and while they follow in their father’s footsteps they have created their own niche in the business world. Youngest daughter Shivaa, still at college, has also expressed her desire to join the family firm.
As a successful businessman, Coosal shares his success with as many of the less fortunate as he can and numerous organisations, individuals across T&T have experienced his warmth and generosity. Not only did Coosal’s company assisted a myriad of non-profit, non-governmental organisations, but the Group also extended complementary equipment and services in national flood relief efforts for remedial infrastructural works in various communities during nationwide disaster recovery processes. Relief efforts range from food hampers to free medical clinics.
The low point of the 1980s deeply affected Coosal and his brother Joe, as they suffered a major loss when Coosal’s Quarry and Transport went into receivership. Despite many years of financial struggle to redeem the brand and restore his family’s company and honour, young Coosal burned with a desire for restoration. With extreme personal sacrifices, an unbending resolve to succeed and great business acumen, he successfully brought the company out of the ashes in 1991.
As soon as he peaked that hurdle and the transformation became clearer, tragedy struck. Coosal lamented “the events of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the company at the time overshadowed Joe, as he was stripped of his very existence and died a very humble and dejected man.”
This loss devastated the family and this grief served as an impetus for Coosal to revive the company from the ground up. He rebranded and restructured the defunct company into Coosal’s Construction Company Limited. Under his astute leadership, the company eventually evolved into the Coosal’s Group of Companies.
Today, Coosal owns and operates Coosal’s Construction Co Ltd, Coosal’s Concrete Ltd, Coosal’s Blocks (Caribbean) Ltd, Coosal’s Sand and Gravel Ltd, Coosal’s Ltd and Integrated Security Services Ltd. The company owns and operates the largest privately-owned limestone quarry in Maracas, St Joseph and received six consecutive awards for the best developed and maintained hard rock quarry. The company also operates an award-winning sand and gravel quarry in Tapana, Valencia. The company received six consecutive awards for the best developed and maintained sand and gravel quarry (Tapana).
Coosal’s manufactures an array of construction products which it exports to other Caribbean countries.
In the area of manufacturing, Coosal’s was the first company to introduce the world-renowned Blended Lake Asphalt. This was used in the dualling of the Princess Margaret Highway, now known as the Uriah Butler Highway. The use of innovation and the willingness to try new technologies and techniques afforded the ability to be a fierce competitor in the local construction industry with the successful award of key national infrastructure projects. He further stated: “Part of the promise is to give selflessly—never expect anything in return.”