THIS year marks the 20th anniversary of Total Convenience Management (TCM), the logistics and transportation company that is managing to thrive while other companies have battered by the economic downturn in T&T in its sixth year.
TCM has navigated some of the challenges brought on by the decline in the economy. In 2014, Waithe said, “the potential impact was immediately recognized with the decline in energy prices.”
“The TCM leadership team decided and took steps to diversify our portfolio and reduce our reliance on the energy sector,” he disclosed. “Further we invested heavily in technology, systematically enhanced efficiencies, focused on the environment and reducing our carbon footprint and above all else, doubled down on our commitment to the development and the wellbeing of our team...our people. Between 2014 to present, our team grew from 75 to 280 and counting.”
The impact of economic decline included delayed business and late payments by clients, but Waithe said TCM assumed “understanding and compassion” necessary in challenging times.
“Some of our clients may take a while longer to pay. These challenging times however, are where we strengthen relationships through understanding and compassion. The number of job applications we receive every day is a constant reminder of just how dire our economic climate is.
“Our middle class is shrinking. That’s cause for grave concern. We must and will create a level playing field,” he said.
Empowerment is key
Waithe told Express Business that he not only has nothing to hide in terms of TCM’s business practices, but will openly push for campaign finance reform and will embody transparency and integrity, if elected.
TCM Ltd, which specialises in car rental, leasing, executive transport, GPS technology and roadside assistance, was last month recognised by Deloitte as one of this country’s best managed private companies.
Deloitte noted that TCM “has invested in hybrid vehicles to reduce carbon emissions and promotes safe driving through the Arrive Alive NGO”.
In an interview with Express Business, Waithe said he commonly encounters businesspeople who are also disturbed with high crime and poor governance, but are fearful of openly criticising a sitting government, as this may result in their business being boycotted by the State or followers of a particular political party.
While it might be assumed that Deloitte’s recognition is vindicated by Waithe’s early assertions that he has nothing to hide in his business practices, he is also insistent that TCM is not run by one man.
“This recognition is a testimony to every member of our Team which is made up of more than 250 people, and their relentless commitment to service excellence in every aspect. It underscores the value and benefits to be derived from empowering people. Working with people and encouraging them to be the best that they can be is primarily is what I’m about,” Waithe said, adding, “That is what has given me the recognition in my professional and civic life; and what I will bring to my work in parliamentary politics and further service to our Trinidad and Tobago.”
TCM did not gain legitimacy through Deloitte’s recognition, he said, but “it is merely a recognition of our legitimacy that has built up and earned over the past 20 years.”
Waithe was asked outright if the State has ever been a client and whether these dealings have been above board.
“The short answer is categorically ‘yes’,” he said.
“The fact is that I have been among those at the forefront of insisting on laws to properly govern procurement. It is why the NOW campaign has chosen to walk the campaign finance talk in the absence of campaign finance legislation.”
Details on how the party has chosen to self-regulate are available on now.tt, he said.
Be it small or large businesses, the fear of victimisation and stigmatisation has prevented some from speaking against corruption or blowing the proverbial whistle when unethical practices have been observed.
Waithe intends to show by example that best practice trumps any abuse of power - and that a dismantling of systems which support abuse if power is possible.
“I founded TCM in 2000. I founded ARRIVE ALIVE in 2005 and FIXIN’ T&T in 2010. It means that I’ve been vociferously involved in activism for most of my business’ life,” Waithe stated.
“That fifteen years after starting as an activist, our business remains viable and successful speaks to the strength and character of our team, our people and our commitment to consistently exceeding our clients’ expectations. Anyone adhering to those fundamentals can publicly stand up for what is right, in the best interests of our Trinidad and Tobago and still maintain success in business.”
He continued: “There is corruption in our Trinidad and Tobago. That is a fact. To suggest though, that there is a culture of corruption in our Trinidad and Tobago is to imply that it is a cherished value of the majority of our citizens. Most people in our Trinidad and Tobago are good people who do the right thing.”
What this country lacks, he said, are the mechanisms to effectively and efficiently prevent lawlessness engaged in by a minority.
“We must, among other things, focus on strengthening our institutions and efficiency in the public service,” he said.
Waithe is unwavering in his belief that T&T has the potential to become a model world citizen, demonstrating excellence in social structure, business and governance.
Asked what he finds most heartbreaking about T&T at this time, Waithe said:
“That we continue to underperform on many levels after being blessed with so much. I reiterate, we’re too rich to be so poor. This little amazing space with our creative, innovative and intelligent people can lead the world in so many ways.”
He says he has “nothing to hide” and believes that citizens can run a successful business while constructively criticising the country’s leaders - even where the State is also a client.
Waithe, the owner which is located in Aranguez, is better known for his activism as the head of FixinT&T, having for several years spoken loudly against corruption, poor governance and secrecy in campaign financing.
As Trinidad and Tobago prepares for another general election, constitutionally due this year, Waithe has thrown his hat into the political arena as leader of the new party, NOW.
On the party’s launch last month, Waithe noted that “NOW” was not an acronym, as is typical of political parties, but represented a congregagation of like-minded persons seeking the interest of Trinidad and Tobago.
He has, on many occasions, faced scrutiny, as people in leadership positions who have been the focus of Fixin’ T&T’s concerns have questioned TCM’s legitimacy and whether Waithe represented only his own views.