Tragedy becomes my source of strength
Randy Butler has more than 24 years of experience in the aviation industry.
Captain Butler is presently CEO and president of SkyBahamas Airlines. His professional affiliations include memberships with The National Business Aircraft Association, Aircraft Pilots and Owners Association, Nassau Flying Club, the Ministry of Tourism Aviation Council and the Bahamas Aviation Association, where he serves as president.
In 2010, he was awarded the Andros Nation Builder Award and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Guardian Business: What is the biggest challenge facing your business or sector? What measures need to be taken in The Bahamas to solve it?
Randy: The biggest challenge for me as a young Bahamian businessman is the lack of a strategic plan for the development of tourism and aviation and the air transport sector. Given the significant role these sectors play in our national development, a broad-based, long-term, all-inclusive plan is critical to our national development. Additionally, a lack of proper government oversight and enforcement of existing regulations is critically needed. Instead of focusing on new regulations, there has to be the will power to enforce existing ones. More so, there is a lack of consultation with all industry stakeholders with regards to creating a strategic plan. If this industry is to experience growth and reform, it requires the collective input of all stakeholders who have the experience and collective interest in reform. Furthermore, my company is challenged with the fact that civil aviation is both the regulator and operator in the aviation industry in The Bahamas. This has no doubt hampered our growth potential in significant ways.
GB: What are you currently reading?
Randy: “Who’s Holding My Ladder” by Samuel Chand and “Leadership Gold” by John Maxwell.
GB: Briefly, can you describe a life experience that changed how you approach business today?
Randy: One life experience that has redefined my approach to business has been the tragic loss of one of my young sons. It has helped me to redefine the priority of family in my pursuits to run a successful business. At the end of the day, my wife, children and extended family must feel a sense of inclusion whenever the company experiences successes. They are impacted by the business decisions I make, and as such are encouraged to contribute towards decision-making scenarios. My family is very up-front and involved and they are not afraid to let me know when they do not agree and do not understand something; especially if it is not consistent and does not line up with what I say we believe as a family.
Losing a son has encouraged me to have my family complete me in business as opposed to competing against my business vision. My family keeps me grounded by the principles I have taught them. My children – Darcy, Randy Junior, Hannah-Rachel and Joshua – keep me accountable to do what God has called me to. My wife, Larona, continues to be a tower of strength for me. She tells my friends and colleagues that she supports me one hundred percent, because she believes that I will not only do the right thing, but do the right thing well. So at the end of the day, my family must be made to feel as though they win. Essentially, I am first and foremost the president and CEO of the Butler household.
GB: How has your business or sector changed since the financial crisis?
Randy: Our core business has not changed in any significant ways; however, we’ve had to be creative with regards to our services. We’ve implemented ways to augment our services as well, as we continue to anticipate our customers’ needs by not just consistently meeting those needs but exceeding those needs. We stand by the adage that the customer is king!
Additionally, we have used this opportunity to invest and reinvest in staff training opportunities to take advantage of staying ahead of the competitors during challenging financial times.
GB: How would you describe or classify the ease of doing business in The Bahamas?
Randy: Doing business in The Bahamas is not well defined and there is too much bureaucracy. One can find himself tangled in red tape when doing business in this country. As a businessman with a long-term plan for my business, I often do a SWOT analysis where threats which I classify mainly as a lack of governmental planning are constant.
GB: What should young businesses keep in mind in this current economic climate to survive?
Randy: I would encourage them to research, plan, seek advice and be able to adapt to a dynamic economic environment. Additionally, businesses should avail themselves of the opportunity to invest in the training and retraining of staff.
In order to stay in the game, as well as stay ahead of the game during difficult economic times, I encourage my staff to be more innovative and creative. Oftentimes, I find that companies cut their marketing efforts during a recession, but what I continue to do is increase my marketing efforts as well as encourage my staff to physically take the business to the customer.
GB: If you could change one thing concerning business in The Bahamas, what would it be?
Randy: To improve business in The Bahamas I would educate the young people on the importance of small businesses to our economy, and how it drives the economy to realize growth and development. Oftentimes, the role of small business as a means to create personal and national wealth is often down-played. I would also change the perception of entitlement, which is so prevalent among average employees. Employees need to understand that business owners have at times made tremendous personal investments and sacrifices, and are only mandated to pay employees an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.