Business entrepreneur Keith Parker Tibbetts Jr. passed away this morning.
Tibbetts was the founder of Associated Industries, which includes Ace, AI Rentals, Parker’s, and Save the Date Weddings & Events Planners.
In 2018, he was awarded the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Business.
According to a profile by the Chamber at the time, Mr. Tibbetts’ first business was an auto junkyard in George Town, which he and two partners started in 1973. Speaking prior to receiving that award, he told the Chamber, “I didn’t know a real lot about cars, but I knew how to crunch numbers and sell, so, I began to sell used parts.”
He added new and reconditioned parts in 1984, after he sold an industrial gas business he had started earlier. Over the years, AI has grown into many other areas and now includes auto parts, hardware, power-tool rentals, painting supplies, event planning and more. The business is now run by his son, Keith Parker Tibbetts III.
Tibbetts and his siblings were born on Cayman Brac to the late Capt. Keith Parker Tibbetts and Marjorie Tibbetts, who opened a convenience store when he was 5 years old. The Chamber profile noted that at the age of 10, he took over his grandmother Elsie Tibbetts’ business of raising chickens and supplying eggs to Brackers. He also sold chicken-feed sacks, which were made into clothing.
He moved to Grand Cayman in 1969, and with $150 and three used cars, started his own business, the Chamber profile noted. He also made a foray into aviation and satellite-video services, developed the largest local video movie-rental business, and opened a beauty salon with his late wife, Alecia, and his sister, Virginia.
Speaking at the Chamber awards ceremony in 2018, Tibbetts said of his success in business over the decades: “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.”
Tibbetts had been confined to a wheelchair for several years because of an amputation due to diabetes complications. He dedicated much of his later years to the cause of people with disabilities, and was a member of the Cayman Islands National Council for Persons with Disabilities, helping the government to draw up legislation protecting the rights of and improving access for disabled individuals.
For his work supporting people with disabilities, he was named patron of the Cayman Islands Disability Policy, which was released in 2014, and his work in this field was also recognised when he was awarded the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour in 2017.