‘Mr. Parker’ honored at Chamber awards dinner

Commerce Minister Joey Hew, right, presents Keith Parker Tibbetts Jr., with a lifetime achievement award Saturday night. - Photo: Ken Silva

When Keith Parker Tibbetts Jr. opened his auto-parts store on North Sound Road in the 1970s, the area was not the booming industrial park that it is today.

“He had a gentleman go out and clear land where Parker’s currently exists, and when he went there after work to see how much work had been done, there was just a few feet pushed into the bushes. The gentleman said, ‘We clear land, not water,’” Commerce Minister Joey Hew said of Mr. Tibbetts’s early struggles to develop the area.

But hard work and “a lot of elbow grease” helped turn Parker’s and Mr. Tibbetts Jr.’s other businesses into mainstays of the Cayman Islands, and for that he was given the lifetime achievement award Saturday night at the Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards 2018.

“For a lot of the businesses, I wasn’t the first one to go into them. I just tried to run mine better, and put whatever elbow grease that I needed into it,” he said.

Along with being a successful entrepreneur, he was also recognized for his role in championing the cause of the disabled. Mr. Tibbetts, who is restricted to a wheelchair due to complications with diabetes, sits on the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, and has championed causes such as pushing for areas to have handicapped parking spots and access ramps.

Minister Hew said that the honoree represents the fact that “there are still indeed ironmen in our midst.”

A variety of other awards were bestowed on some of Cayman’s most prominent businesses.

Marriott Resort received the Chamber’s top award, Business of the Year; the cybersecurity firm eShore Ltd. won Small Business of the Year; Island Naturals owner Lindsay Allen won Entrepreneur of the Year; Vagabond Media Group won a prize for the Marketing Campaign of the Year; and Yello Media Group was given the Community Impact Award.

Two businesses, Dart Enterprises Ltd. and Health City Cayman Islands, were co-winners of the Commitment to Education award.

Chamber President Paul Byles explained that the organization wanted to give philanthropic-themed awards to shine much-needed light on the good work Cayman businesses do in the community.

“What has occurred over the many years is that there’s an idea that us in this room trying to pursue profits and do very well may not be the best thing in the world,” he said. “The fact that you do all these other things gets missed a bit, and I think it’s important to remind the community of that.”

In addition to the business awards, Wil Pineau was also recognized for a career milestone he will reach in several weeks, when he will hit his 25th anniversary mark of being the Chamber of Commerce’s CEO.