- June 30th, 2010
- in Yachting
Rob Wassell is the director of Caribbean Technology and Cay Electronics, both are BVI companies established in 1980 with Caribbean Technology becoming the land-based division of the marine-based product and service strong arm Cay Electronics. As Rob and I travel up to Nail Bay in Virgin Gorda to examine a prime example of his works, he smiles and says, “Here in the BVI experience is everything and learning to move with the times and the swing of industry equates to good business.” The generator plant in Virgin Gorda is capable of supplying power not only to its current residential lots but to its complete acreage.
Caribbean Technology is in the business of back up services ranging from UPS and surge protectors, water treatment and recycling to stand alone generators for commercial to residential needs. As Rob explains to me, “There is increasing competition from overseas contractors to bid on local sites here. That is not a problem, but understanding the logistics of working locally are crucial.
The view of Nail Bay from the power plant. Photo by YachtShotsBVI.com
On paper everything looks good, but getting two generators selected specifically for a client’s needs to the island are one thing, getting it that last five miles on a boat, up a dirt incline and then installed in rapid time with a local workforce are another thing altogether and delivering the product in a timely fashion is in the planning of the last five miles as it is the former 1500.” I ask Rob to elaborate, “ Well, what works for Florida doesn’t necessarily work here and a design can convince a client otherwise but when we look at bids we look at the vision and quite often we are contracted on a technical basis, as we do understand the gaps in the market of being absolutely practical, if a client has been advised to ship something and it is either wrong or isn’t truly compatible it isn’t as if you can just send it back—that is where we come in, tried and tested methods over vast experience in a developing market.”
So, as we pull into Nail Bay I am curious as to whether every problem has to be fixed in person. “No, not at all—that would not be practical or cost effective for our clients. After installation we set up several monitoring methods ranging from online alert monitoring systems and use whichever communication method suits the location, whether it be online, cell or vhf, our goal is to get to the engineer and have our installations run as efficiently as possible, problems is not a term we like to work with—practical solutions, yes.” I meet Raj, the engineer at Nail Bay and as he and Rob discuss operations, photographer Guy Clothier and I marvel at the bunker of the generator plant and its neighboring 100,000 gallon cistern which draws water from a Caribbean Technology RO plant drawing from a covered underground beach well, the best part about a beach well I am told is that using natural elements such as sand provides a natural filter as opposed to a raw seawater draw which has proven running costs as high as its installation. As to the power, 13.4kV is transformed down to 480VAC for the generator switchgear, the two 625kVA generators providing a capacity of the same through 5000-gallon diesel tanks should the mains trip and currently one of the generators will stand down gracefully as it is seldom needed. The plant has set up for two more generators to follow in line with Nail Bays plans for expansion on its land. The generators Rob remarks are from Northern Ireland, they are Perkins and great machines and he grins, “You should have seen us get these up this hill, that was a stressful day for me, but it all worked out well.”
Rob cites the BVI as having its drawbacks as well as advantages to doing business. For him it is a double edged sword, “We live here for the beauty, the remoteness—it is fairly exclusive and that is a privilege protected by the BVI Government with strict policy in place. It also means that as an untouched non-commercial group of islands getting product and delivery can be a hard feat in itself. Skilled labor on demand is hard to find, so our technicians are factory trained and our team of personnel and support are on the road, available 24/7—that’s our service. There isn’t a location that is not ecologically sensitive; the end road is the sea, so we are particularly sensitive in our interests to what part that will play.” Currently Rob is looking at new ways to improve product services to clients, from satellite technology to researching the best ways to accommodate power source backups his statement is the same as the business practices he implements, “ Best way is to keep it simple every time, simple and reliable works.”