THE NAME MARK MALONEY has been on the lips of Barbadians a lot lately.
But the man who has found himself the subject of criticism over his business dealings says: “A lot of people make assumptions about me and how they perceive me is not who I am.”
Despite what people say about him he remains focused on the business at hand. “I don’t get distracted by the naysayers and the people that try to bad-talk me or pull me down,” Maloney said.
At age 44, this Barbadian has already blazed a successful business trail that has seen his name associated with several business ventures and judging from plans in the pipeline, there is no end in sight to his business drive. Yet his business profile has sparked public debate and people continue to ask, “Who is this Mark Maloney?”
When asked to describe himself in a SUNDAY SUN interview last week, in light of public perception of him, he said: “I am a simple, driven, passionate person; I am a people’s person; I am a communicator.”
He is also a sporting enthusiast, husband and father.
Maloney started his first company PRECONCO Limited in the 1990s, almost 27 years ago, and giving its history he said: “We started bringing pre-cast technology to Barbados and throughout the Caribbean.” His business ventures since then have grown exponentially through partnerships with more experienced mentors who have themselves recorded notable business successes.
Today, Maloney is a partner in diverse companies – manufacturing windows, roofing systems, recycling of plastic bottles for the production of plastic roofs; home-building and real estate development, to name some of them. Partnering with him in the majority of these businesses, he said, are Bjorn Bjerkhamn and Sir Charles Williams, who are both directors and shareholders of PRECONCO.
“I think I was always industrious when I was young,” Maloney said, while proceeding to give some insight into the depth of his industry. It manifested itself early and he explained that from around age 12 or 13, during the summer vacations he “would always have something to do that would make money, whether it be landscaping or taking care of neighbours’ properties or washing cars”.
In the teenage years he also employed woodworking skills acquired as a schoolboy “to make a lot of fancy things” such as lamps, which he then sold.
The son of a banker, Maloney grew up in Toronto and the United States and was fortunate to be exposed to early travel because of the nature of his father’s job. He came back to Barbados to live permanently at age 16 and went to work with C.O. Williams Construction.
“I started off doing labour work and then went into purchasing and storeroom clerk and then got involved in the concrete side of the business.” He benefited from further exposure to this aspect of the C.O. Williams operation when he was sent to St Lucia by Roger Gooding, one of his mentors, to work on that island’s West Coast Road.
Maloney credits the Barbadian company with giving him the early start and for igniting his interest in concrete. “C.O. Williams Construction was where I learnt most of what I learnt in early life and I kind of exposed myself to everything in construction that went on around the world,” he said.
With a few nods of his head he added: “I really, really like construction,” and he has taken the time over the years to travel the world observing and learning about it. As a result, he says with confidence: “I know a lot about concrete.”
“I have worked with concrete in most ways you can think of, from doing labour work, mixing concrete, to mason work, plastering, building blocks, putting up boxing. When my dad was building his house I was hands-on and used to be mixing concrete.”
Maloney describes a work schedule that some people would think is punishing, but which is the norm for this businessman, who declared: “I like hard work.”
You can find him at work seven days a week, though he said: “Not that I expect that everyone wants to work seven days a week because everyone is not me.”
“I put in the time that is required on the things that I am doing to bring the results. I am always thinking positive.” He believes this can-do approach is important to inspiring the people who work for him. “Sometimes it means being hard and being firm, but if we are not focused and we are not driven to succeed then we will settle for mediocrity, which does not bring the results that I aspire to in the things that I do.”
“Sometimes it may come across to those who are not accustomed to producing efficiently that I am someone that may be bullying but that is not the case. I lead by example,” Maloney said.
He believes his drive, business approach and thorough preparation in bidding may have been pivotal to his success in securing certain business contracts, but he insisted: “I do not get special treatment.”
Fending off such criticism, he said: “There is not one project that I work on that gets special treatment.”
He pointed out further: “It is not just I involved all the projects; I have partners. It is not Mark Maloney alone. Maybe, I may be the one out front and may be seen to be the one leading some of these projects. I guess I am a bit younger than some of my other partners and I may have a little more energy at this stage of my life. But that perception is not the reality. Absolutely not.”
“We only want well for the country,” Maloney asserted.
He wants to see a Barbados where the public and private sectors “work closely together and not be constantly criticising each other”.
“I would also like to see the political parties working more closely together for the benefit of the country, which is important because what people around the rest of the world see when they look in at Barbados, is what usually drives them to come here to visit or to invest. When they see unity in the public and private sector and they see unity in the political parties and not bashing each other, they see positive people that are intent on facilitating investment and getting things done whether it is Immigration or Town Planning or Finance.”
Just as hard as he works, Maloney plays, devoting lots of time and energy to his avid love – motorsport.
It is a passion he inherited from his father, who is perhaps one of the oldest people still zipping competitively around motor racing circuits in Barbados and the Caribbean. Doug Maloney was one of the first drivers to race on the Bushy Park race track when it was developed in the late seventies.
“I have a very competitive family,” Maloney said. His brother Stuart was a cyclist while another brother, Sean, is an avid footballer. Mark drives cars, does “a little riding for fun and a little exercise to stay fit”. His well toned physique bears the evidence.
Off the job and away from the race track, Maloney spends family time with Sharon, his wife of 23 years and their four children – a 21-year-old son, a 19-year-old daughter, a 15-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter.
As he prepared to rush back to the job at the end of the interview, he paused to remark: “I love working. I love creating. I just want to constantly get involved in the things that I can in Barbados that make a difference and it is not about wanting all or having all – it is not about having money.”
“I keep it real,” he said.