By Felicity Ingraham, Barefoot Marketing
New Providence, Bahamas – Gary Sands is making history in the beverage industry worldwide. He is one of the youngest persons ever to take the helm of a major beverage company. At the age of 27, Gary has recently been promoted to General Manager of Jimmy’s Wines & Spirits with a staff of 60 under his management. He will command the operations at all Jimmy’s locations in Nassau, North Eleuthera and Abaco except for Freeport, Grand Bahama where the parent company, Bahamian Brewery and Beverage Company is located. Jimmy’s has eight distribution centers in New Providence, Freeport, North Eleuthera and Marsh Harbor, Abaco.
As General Manager, Gary is now responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company, and also has marketing, sales and accounts under his purview.
“It’s a huge responsibility – a huge undertaking; but it’s the great people who work with me who make all the difference,” Gary said about his new job and the team he has been commissioned to manage.
The company, which has a staff of 120 altogether, is setting the pace for young business professionals in the country. Expect to find young managers running operations in the warehouse, accounts, distribution and marketing departments in New Providence and Grand Bahama. They are leaning on the expertise of veterans in the industry who also make up the Jimmy’s team. When Gary’s father James “Jimmy” Sands established the company ten years ago, he was able to successfully recruit a power team consisting of individuals who were loyal employees of his father from his days at Butler & Sands.
As the company now celebrates it’s tenth anniversary, some of those veterans are heading for retirement and are placing the reins in the hands of a much younger, vibrant generation with great ideas to take into the future. One of those individuals, Berkley Williamson retired as General Manager. When Gary first entered his father’s business, it was never cut and dry that he would assume such a position in the company. It was through hard work, dedication and passion that he proved himself worthy of the job.
“I most definitely have what it takes,” says Gary, adding that he expects to hold the reins for a long time.
“I adopted my grandfather and dad’s way of doing business. Things have to be done right and on time, and if you say you are going to do something, you do it. It’s about reliability.”
His work ethic has won him the respect of the team, including his seniors, who are all excited about the way forward for the company with a young, dynamic leader.
“If I had to do it on my own, there no way I could do it. There are strategic people in sales and marketing, running the accounts, running the warehouse – people I can rely on. They are not just regular employees. They are more like family than employees. We are very close knit.”
He notes that senior members of the team are readily embracing the new way of thinking and doing business, which is a “right now” attitude, “not tomorrow or the next day”.
The Bahamian Brewery and Beverage Company produces Sands Beer, Sands Light, Sands Pink Radler, High Rock Lager, Strong Back Stout, Bush Crack Beer which now also comes in a berry flavor, and Triple B Malta. These products are manufactured from the Brewery in Grand Bahama and distributed throughout the country. In addition to the local products, Gary is responsible for the other beverages in the Jimmy’s Wines & Spirits portfolio. The company was awarded the AB Inbev exclusive distributorship of the Anheuser Busch line of products including Budweiser and Bud Light, Beck’s, Stellar Artois and Presidente beers. Jimmy’s also distributes a full complement of wines and spirits including popular brands such as the Jackson family wines, Decero wines, Tito’s vodka, and Flor de Cana rums.
Gary is using wisdom and soaking up every bit of knowledge he can about the industry. The relationship with AB Inbev has taught him much about the industry and “their way of thinking” that drives sales. Whether its travelling to Germany to learn first-hand about the industry he loves, or communicating with affiliates in the region, Gary is rising to the challenge with the kind of success that made his father, the President and CEO, have confidence in his ability.
Kelly Sands, Gary’s sister, is also a vital component to the success of the company. As manager of all store fronts, Kelly never hesitates to take on any task, from driving the forklift, to cashing, to delivering, to get the job done. Gary commends her for her vast creativity and for the success of her brainchild, the Travelling Beer Fest which takes Sands Beer throughout the family islands.
It is his hope that their younger brother and sister – Mallory who is in university and James Jr. who is about to complete high school – will join the family empire that includes a multi-million-dollar facility producing some of the Bahamas’ favorite beverage brands.
The company’s tenth anniversary celebrations have included lots of giveaways and customer appreciation campaigns. The Scratch n’ Win promotion, for example, resulted in over $10,000 in giveaways during the campaign. Through Budweiser, Jimmy’s sent Bahamians on all expense paid trips; while the Presidente music vibe was a hit with music lovers. During the Christmas holidays, Sands Beer sponsored the Black Out event, which drew a large crowd and also proved a success.
For young professionals who aspire to lead companies but may be discouraged because of their age, Gary advises: “There is an opportunity for everyone. The thing that helped me is that I took every opportunity I had to advance myself. Don’t roll over. Don’t let someone come and push you out of anything you have a strong feeling for just because you are young. Listen to your seniors, take advice, but it doesn’t mean you have to do what they tell you.”
He feels that based on the fact that The Bahamas is a small country with citizens that have made a global impact, there is every reason for more and more young Bahamians to keep making history in whatever field they are engaged in.
“You know the tingling feeling we all got when the Golden girls won? That’s the feeling I get when I look at my own staff. Bahamians are great people… and with eight billion people in the world, what are the chances that we would be born in the best place on Earth? The odds are already in our favor!”
He encourages consumers to continue to invest in a “100 per cent Bahamian company”.
“We invest into the economy. Every dollar we make stays in the country. We invest in young Bahamians and it is evident by our management team. They are the future of this company. We have superstar products and a superstar team, and what this company has done in 10 years is simply phenomenal.”