Interview: Garth Arch

Garth Arch 

Q:What are some of the main issues that face the construction and development industries today?

The main issue facing the construction and development industries today is the economy, which is still feeling the ripple effects of the 2008 financial crisis and global recession. In addition, Government has constraints on borrowing and banks are now more reluctant to finance new projects. Other issues would include the need to licence contractors and design professionals so that our industry can be properly regulated. We also need to ensure an educated, well-trained and appropriately experienced Caymanian workforce in the construction industry.

Q:What is your overall outlook on the economy? Are there signs that the economy is improving?

I think that the economy is showing signs of stabilisation. There are a number of projects for which I acted as consulting structural engineer back in 2008 that were put on hold. However, it is encouraging to note that each of these projects is now currently under construction: Oceana Condominiums on South Church Street, the Appleby Tower in George Town and the Caribbean Plaza development on West Bay Road. In addition, other notable projects that are presently under construction include:

The WaterColours Condominiums, Willow House Office Building in Cricket Square, the Barcadere Marina, Casa Luna Villas, The Londoner Condominiums at Morritts, and the extension of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway to Batabano Road. To my knowledge, each of these projects is being carried out by resident developers, a reflection of their faith in and commitment to the future of Cayman. Cayman’s foray into medical tourism is also around the corner with Health City Cayman Islands poised to begin construction in the coming months.

Q:Good infrastructure is an important part of any successful economy. One of the two objectives in the Future of Cayman Infrastructure Driver Group is to develop a national infrastructure plan.   Would you support the development of such a plan and what would you recommend as its key components?

I would fully support the development of a National Infrastructure Plan. However, infrastructure is only one part of the equation. It must be balanced with a simultaneous management of growth. Here in Cayman, history has proven that rapid growth coupled with changing demographics can place strain on existing infrastructure, which can ultimately affect our quality of life.

I would recommend that the Cayman Infrastructure Driver Group use Vision 2008 as a guide to developing such a plan. Referring to Vision 2008, Strategies 9 and 10 outline the vision of an Integrated Growth Management Plan, which includes the creation of a statutory National Infrastructure Development and Management Body. Vision 2008 can be summarised by one vision, which is Developing in Harmony and Prosperity. As such, the hope is that a policy of Integrated Growth Management is created that encompasses a balance between managing growth and building optimal infrastructure for our community, while at the same time developing human resources and protecting the social fabric and natural environment.

Q:Do you follow any business philosophy in your day-to-day activities that you would like to share?

Yes, I strongly believe in surrounding yourself with people who you can trust and who are the best at what they do. I promote empowering others to take responsibility, make decisions and get the job done. I also believe in a commitment to integrity, fairness, and the pursuit of excellence in all that you do.

Q:As this year’s YCLA recipient, you will be delivering many presentations to the youth in our community. What is your main message and what do you hope to achieve in this role for the year?

My hope is to impact the lives of the youth of Cayman in a positive and lasting way by challenging them to develop a strong character while they are young, which I believe is the foundation of success. I encourage them to build a character of faith, hard work, discipline, serving others and courage; courage to pursue their dreams and to stand up for what is right. I stress that in order to achieve their goals, they must be willing to work hard and be disciplined to sacrifice in the short term for the long term reward. I also try to impress upon them the importance of forming good habits while they are young, which ultimately will define their character. One of my favourite quotes is by Aristotle who said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”

Q:Who are your role models and what have you learned from them?

My father, Heber, is my greatest role model. I feel blessed to have a father that is not only my role model in life but also in my chosen profession. His life is a testimony to the kind of person he is: a man of integrity, humility and wisdom. Being his son has been an experience that has shaped who I am today, as I have had the privilege of watching and learning from his example. Through this experience, I fully understand why Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer once said that, “example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”

Q:Looking 20 years from now, what type of Cayman society would you like to see developed for your children?

In 20 year’s time, the Cayman society that I would like to see would be a vibrant, caring and safe society that holds fast to its Christian values. We have the opportunity to develop Cayman into the ideal society that sets the standard for the Caribbean by: investing in our youth who are the future of Cayman; creating a robust educational system that allows our young people to reach their full potential; supporting the strengthening of the family unit; fostering a diversified, harmonious and safe community; promoting a vibrant economy that optimises modern technology and creates opportunities for all; and preserving our pristine natural resources.

Q:Do you have any advice for someone wishing to pursue a career in your industry?

The construction industry offers a range of opportunities based upon a variety of skills, experience and qualifications. The industry is comprised of architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, project managers, construction managers, accountants, human resource managers, and trades personnel, such as plumbers, electricians, A/C technicians, carpenters and roofers, to name a few.

There are many options for a career path within this industry. I would advise anyone with an interest to select the area where his or her talents intersect the opportunities in the industry and work diligently to be the best in that field. If this is done, I am confident that a successful career will result. 


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