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Try it...you may like it
Business magnate and founder of the Virgin Group, billionaire Richard Branson is a staunch disbeliever in the education system.
His justification is that: “Nobody develops their unique and compelling approaches to disruptive innovation and leadership by reading a textbook but by living through the thrill, dread, and sleepless nights that come with being an entrepreneur.
“No matter how much you study the art of business or analyse famous entrepreneurs’ strategies, nothing can prepare you for the journey that is running a business.”
This is the same philosophy businessman Rodney Metivier has fashioned his life around.
As the owner of Try It—a chemical manufacturer operating out of Arima for the past 15 years—the 46-year-old admitted he failed to complete secondary school. However, he refused to let this set him back.
Metivier entered the world of work soon after leaving high school and began as a porter at a popular p i z z a outlet.
His willingness and ability to adapt to situations as they occurred quickly earned him a promotion as personal assistant to the group’s chairman, performing whatever tasks he dictated over a 15-year period.
Jokingly advised to “slow down” once as he seemed to be working at super-speed, the single father of a four-year-old girl said: “Part of my success was watching him grow from strength to strength.”
“Going with him to every outlet was an opportunity to watch how he operated and to learn from him, how to do business, what not to do and the pitfalls to avoid.”
Metivier, who also resides in Arima, said he learned how to trust his “gut” instincts when he ventured out on his own.
Indicating he would be forever indebted to the chairman whom he said was now one of his biggest cus tomers, Metivier credited the regional exposure he received as a result of his products being exported to the group’s companies in other territories.
As one of the largest suppliers of cleaning products to big-name hotels and restaurants locally, Metivier boasted of Try It’s superior quality as he said: “We supply everything from ceiling to floor cleaners and everybody who uses our products has not complained.”
The Try It range of products now includes an all-purpose cleaner; sanitiser; dishwashing liquid; hand soap; bleach; degreaser; lime-scale remover; outdoor moss cleaner and deodorisers.
Revealing how he stumbled upon the chemical business—Metivier and two other employees from the same company formed a partnership as they began to experiment with various mixtures to concoct an all purpose cleaner in order to make their life at work easier.
Making the decision to leave th ompany after he and the chairman experienced a “falling out of sorts,” Metivier said: “I made the decision to buy out the other two and I have never looked back.”
Recalling the early days as he struggled to peddle his product, Metivier laughingly divulged how the name for it came about as he said: “In those days, the popular slang was: try it, you may like it— but that wasn’t in my mind at the time.”
“But everywhere I went and people would ask me if it could clean toilets, tiles, car upholstery and engines, and I would say try it, try it, try it.”
He claimed: “If I tell you it can clean ten different surfaces and it cleans eight, you know you have a really good product.”
“This is what formed the backbone of Try It and continues to support us to this day.”
Sticking with the name Try It every time they developed a new product, Metivier said: “We very rarely get complaints and we encourage our customers to find a fault with our products and complain.”
“In this way, we can also tweak our formula and it would be one way to keep us on our toes and push us to ensure we continue to provide the best possible produc for our customers.”
“Anyone can walk off the street and purchase our products, but it would take some time for them to return. Restaurants and hotels have to clean every single day so they are our largest and regular customers.”
Metivier claimed to be doing something right as he spoke of various businesses that had set up shop before Try It, but had been forced to close their doors for a myriad of reasons.
He said: “We are still existing and I can still pay my bills which is the important thing.”
Looking forward to expanding his business regionally, Metivier said while he is always mindful of where he came from, he does not take anything for granted.
Providing a candid insight into his early childhood as he grew up at Upper Wharton Street, Laventille— Metivier dashed the tears from his eyes as he recalled growing up hungry.
He said: “I remember one time my mother had $3 and all we could have gotten was a pack of split peas powder and two pounds of flourwhich had to feed four kids and two adults.”
“My father came home and he was hungry and we were still hungry, but he took two bites before giving us to share.”
Bursting with pride as he spoke of parents Ann-Marie and Victor, Metivier said they sacrificed much to ensure their children were educated and became self-sufficient.
Vowing to ensure his daughter never has to experience that kind of reality, Metivier said although he never learned to read and write properly, his outgoing personality always succeeded in attracting people to him as he was the jolly go-lucky type.
He continued: “I was always in school but never good at it.”
Having attended Nelson Street Boys RC before moving to Diego Martin Junior Secondary School and finally ending up at South East Port-of-Spain Secondary, Metivier said his high school experience was marred by the death of his beloved grandfather.
He said: “By the time I got into the secondary school system, many of the classes were filled so I was forced to take the classes they put me in.”
“But there was a teacher in my History class who realised I could not read at the time and she took me under her wing.”
Heartened after he discovered there were students who were worse off than him and could not even recite the alphabet, Metivier said: “Now I can read and write, and there is always Android phones so you can speak it out.”
He indicated: “Now I can get along but people worked with me all these years ago and never knew.”
Metivier said at the time, he avoided answering the phones because he would have to take a written order/message.
“It was something I used to hide before but now I tell everybody because I want every one to know they can overcome any problem before them.”
He said: “Surprisingly, when you now start a business and the people you expect to take a chance on you are not the ones who will go out on a limb for you because they do not want you to disappoint them.”
Claiming it had been a fight and a constant battle to stay afloat because of the number of competitors in the market, Metivier said: “I am the not cheapest by all means, but I know my product is good and the quality can’t be faulted.”
Indicating he could sometimes be viewed as “harsh” in his decision making processes, Metivier said he always made sure to solicit the views and opinions of his employees before making a final decision.
Having tried his hand at various businesses including selling bananas and eggs in the market, building box-drains, operating a mini-mart, being a money lender and running a food outlet—Metivier laughed: “I tried a number of things in order to discover what I was good at and now that I have discovered it, I am sticking with it because it’s been tried and found to be true.”
To persons looking to start a business, Metivier advised: “Try it. Stop overthinking it and take that leap of faith. You never know what’s ahead for you. If I can overcome everything I have, to enjoy the success I have experienced so far, anyone can do it, I would encourage persons to try it.”