Hews forge ahead during tough times

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The Hewden Building

Way back in early 1980s, Lenny Hew and Donald Hew purchased some land on what is now known as Cayman’s industrial park. Land in the sparsely developed area was not very popular in those days and the brothers were able to buy the 1.5 acre parcel for $1 per square foot.

Almost three decades later, that purchase is still paying dividends to the Hew family.

Lenny’s son Joey Hew, who is now heading up the family’s development of that property, said it has long served as the collateral for the family.

“The foresight that my dad and my uncle had in buying that property has led to a lot of the growth in the family businesses since then,” he says. “That property has always supplied security for the family, whether it was for education or businesses.”

Joey says the property, which is on the corner of Portland Road and Dorcy Drive, was used as collateral to buy the first Hew’s family business, MacDonald’s restaurant. Since then, the Hews family has opened a number of other businesses, including Hew’s Cleaning Services, Hew’s Hotel & Restaurant Supplies Limited and Hew’s Pool Services Ltd, plus The Office Lounge and two other MacDonald’s restaurants.

There have been plans to build on the industrial park property for many years now, but for one reason or the other, those plans kept getting delayed. In 2001, the plan was to construct a 6,000-square-foot building on the property to house the Hew’s offices and stores. However, the economic decline after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States put that plan on hold.
A few years later, a tenant was interested in having a building constructed on the site, but then Hurricane Ivan’s impact in September 2004 scrapped that plan.

This year, however, things fell into place when FedEx Express agreed to become the anchor tenant of an 15,000-square-foot building on the site.

Despite the bad economy, the Hew family forged ahead with the building, says Joey.

“Our entire group of companies have taken the conscious decision that those who persevere and build a foundation during these times will reap the benefits later and be the leaders going forward,” he says. “The difficult part was to find a lending institution that shared the same view.”

The Hews found that institution in HSBC, which agreed to finance what will eventually be known as the Hewden Building.

In addition to what FedEx will occupy, the Hews will lease some other space in the building, which includes about 3,000 square feet of office area on a mezzanine level.

Unlike the original plan, the Hews and their businesses will not occupy any of the new building, which is scheduled for completion in February 2011.

That leaves the door open for more growth from the Hews.

“We’re still renting three places in the industrial park,” says Joey.

“I can see us in the future finding another property to develop.”