As a young St. Johnian entrepreneur who started his own company1st Phase Datacommabout two years ago, Brummell Germain is living his dream and leading by example.
I dont like going out and telling people what to doI like to lead by example, he said. This has given me the opportunity to do that. I can dare to be different, and not just tell people, but show them what they are capable of.
Germain, now 29, had the entrepreneurial spirit at an early age, and started his first business washing cars when he was just 12 years old. There was never any question in this young mans mind about what he would do when he grew up.
I was interested in athletics, but if I wasnt going to do that, I was definitely going to be an entrepreneur, said Germain. I liked working for myself. I fell in love with it right away.
After spending about five-and-a-half-years in Florida, working for others and studying information technology, Germain needed a change and came back to his island home.
I was thinking about relocating because I had had enough of Florida, he said. I didnt necessarily want to come back home, but I was in contact with people here who offered me an employment opportunity.
Germain worked for the local communications company Best Tech, where he gained useful hands-on experience, before the company closed its doors.
The owner of Best Tech made a personal decision that he was going to leave, said Germain. Instead of going to work for someone else, I decided to give it a shot on my own. I had been doing this stuff for more than seven years, and I knew that I could make a company of my own work.
The ambitious Germain first had to coax his family into supporting his endeavors.
I was adamant about not working for anyone else and when my dad saw that I was serious, he took the chance and invested in me, said Germain. My family saw the changes that I went through and knew that I was serious about this. Through their help, I was able to start the company.
As with any small business, Germain kept the initial overhead costs low, working from home and employing only his brother James. Almost two years later, he has added another employee, obtained an office in the Lumberyard Complex, and has expanded his client base to include St. Thomas.
When I started, I just wanted to keep all of the costs down, so everything was mobile and I was working from home, said Germain. Now there are three of us and we are still growing. We do everything from residential to commercial to new construction wiring.
Even with just the residential, a lot of people want to have their homes wired for communication needs outside of just the normal telephone hook-up, he added.
Germain isnt happy just resting on his laurelshe has dreams that span the Caribbean.
I want to be able to expand to the point where we are doing work throughout the whole of the Caribbean, not just St. Thomas and St. John, he said. The good thing about the V.I. is that it can fit under two umbrellas.
Here you can have the whole island thing, or we can be incorporated in the U.S. mainland, Germain added. This gives us a lot of flexibility and versatility, and a lot of options.
As if running his own business didnt keep him busy enough, Germain recently started his own promotion company, One Shot Entertainment. The side venture is only about six months old, and Germain already has high hopes for it.
We want to revive the night life that has been lost on St. Johnthe good clean fun night life, he said. When I was young, we used to be able to go out and have a good time and unwind now and again.
One Shot Entertainment kicked off its first party on the biggest party night of the yearNew Years Eve at Banana Deck. The night was a huge success, with D.J. Tony T from 105 Jamz and local D.J. LS1 spinning everything from reggae to hip hop and calypso.
Since New Years Eve, One Shot Entertainment has hosted three parties at Banana Deck, which drew big crowds. We draw people who want to come out and have a good time, said Germain. If you are having an event and need entertainment, we can put the whole thing togetherwell do the who, what, where, when, and all that.
Germain isnt happy just being behind the scenes, he dreams of starting a local record label, and might even put his own hip hop rhymes out there.
One of my goals as far as the entertainment aspect, is to start a label under the umbrella of One Shot Entertainment to promote local talent, he said. Once I launch this, I hope it would inspire and motivate young musicians to stay with their art. I might put my stuff out there too.
The recent boom on St. John, which has afforded Germain the opportunity to start his own successful business, also has a darker side.
It has its pros and cons, he said. In a sense its good for the island, because it has opened a lot of peoples minds, and afforded people like myself to be able to start businesses because of the boom.
On the flip note, that same boom has made it so expensive that when someone like me wants to have a piece of the rock, youd have to be a millionaire, Germain continued. It makes it a lot more difficult for local people to live here without working two or three jobs.
Growing up on St. John, Germain said that his years away from the island helped him gain a different perspective.
I think that it is a good idea to get away from here for a few years, to be able to see things outside of the island perspective, he said. Getting out in the world really broadens your horizon.
For young people interested in starting their own companies, Germain offered some good advice.
I would say that if there is something that you are interested in to get involved however you can, he said. Try to surround yourself with positive peoplepeople who are trying to achieve their goals. That will keep you motivated and drive you forward.
Also, try to get some hands-on experience because that goes a long way, Germain continued. The book sense is important, but the hands-on experience is beneficial also.
A person must have certain traits in order to be a successful entrepreneur, according to Germain.
You have to be driven, motivated and a self-starter, he said. You have to have your own ambition without someone having to tell you what you should be doing.
The best of his job is seeing a project come together, Germain explained.
A lot of my work involves trouble shooting which is fun because its not the same thing day after day, he said. I love being able to engineer networks from the first step, and watching them turn into complete projects.
For more information about 1st Phase Datacomm or One Shot Entertainment, call 998-0458.