– From Apprentice to a leading Contractor, …no fabrication is impossible
When one hears the name Courtney Benn one thinks about ship building, road construction and sophisticated building construction. Indeed, Courtney Benn Contracting Services is all this and more.
Courtney Benn, a young Berbician, did not grow up in a household of contractors. Rather, the young man was close to his godfather, who happened to be a contractor, and inspired him to be one.
When he finished Berbice High School, he headed to Barry’s Workshop in New Amsterdam. There he pursued his apprenticeship programme. He learned everything that there was to learn, but he outgrew his community. The result is that Mr. Benn headed to the capital city, Georgetown.
His first job was with Bookers Shipping, now known as Guyana National Shipping Corporation. There was a service called Booker’s Garage. Vessels came to Guyana for sugar and sometimes required extensive repairs. The captains, knowing that time is money, expected the repairs to be completed within 24 hours.
Mr. Benn recalled that vessels would come into the docks around 4pm and by 6am the next morning they were ready to sail. Mr. Benn saw an opportunity, so he mustered a team of men who worked at Bookers Shipping with him to undertake the repairs.
Mr. Benn also worked at Sproston’s Shipping, which is now the Guyana National Industrial Company, for three years. At that time, the shipyard was a hive of activities. It had just constructed the MV Malali and MV Torani.
Then Mr. Benn left to start his own entity that has become a household name.
Courtney Benn had no formal training as a shipbuilder, but learned on the job. At Sproston’s he used to weld and burn, working alongside some of the most skilled tradesmen and learned from them. These were the people who helped him gain knowledge and experience when he began to construct vessels.
Later, Mr. Benn was called on to construct the Sandaka, Bonasika and Baramanni for Transport and Harbours Department. Years later, he built additional vessels, a floating police outpost for the Guyana Police Force and floating outposts for the Guyana Defence Force.
For his efforts he gained a national award: the Golden Arrowhead of Achievement, something he treasures.
When asked about the expansion of his company to include road construction and aspects of engineering, Mr. Benn said that he always thinks about people. The result was that he wanted to expand the company to create employment. So he ventured into road construction and continued into civil engineering.
The University of Guyana Tain Campus, the Leonora Synthetic Track, The Ministry of Agriculture’s Hydromet Radar Tower, Beterverwagting Primary, Wisburg Secondary Schools and the installation of reinforced concrete culverts on the East Bank Demerara roadway are few of the projects executed by the company.
Managing such a large company could have an impact on family life. Not so for Mr. Benn. As he put it, “My family life is not affected. My wife understands; she is part of the company. She picks up the phone and calls me any time. Sometimes I would be at a meeting all day but when I go home in the evening, we would sit and have dinner and talk.” When the company was formed, Mrs. Brenda Benn was and still is the Company Secretary.
Courtney Benn Contracting Services does not lag behind in the area of technology. One son, Darren Nurse, studied overseas and returned with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Systems Engineering and is currently the Senior Manager.
The sky is the limit; no task is too large and where necessary Mr Benn hires the competent engineers. Courtney Contracting Services is here to stay.