Waugh Construction

‘I founded Waugh Construction (Bahamas) Ltd. 45 years ago for the purpose of land clearing and road work on Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas,” says Harold “Sonny” Waugh, founder and president emeritus of Waugh Construction. “Today, I’m happy to say that we are not only clearing land and building roads in Grand Bahama Island, but also providing a full spectrum of civil construction services throughout the Bahamas. 

“Our 83 valued employees are the core of our growth and successes,” he continues. “We have many long-serving employees – they are an extension of our family – and it saddens me whenever any of them separate from our company due to retirement or other reasons.” 

“No matter the client or the size of the project, Waugh Construction takes pride in all its work,” Director Doug Prudden says. “We do small jobs and large jobs and we are open to just about anything and everything. We are proud of all the work we do. Waugh Construction is a family owned and operated company so our name stands behind every job we do.”

Based in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, The Bahamas, Waugh Construction has a variety of capabilities, including airport construction, rehabilitation of asphalt and concrete surfaces, subdivision development, road construction, demolition, wastewater treatment plants, underground utility infrastructure such as potable water and sewer lines, concrete and earth containment walls, reinforced concrete foundations, channel excavation, underground excavations and trenching. 

“We do work throughout the Bahama Islands, and the company primarily takes on jobs for all levels of government, as well as the privately owned Grand Bahama Port Authority,” Prudden says. “The company also performs joint ventures and subcontractor services for firms based in the United States and other countries. We work well with outside companies and have an expertise in working in that sort of arrangement.” 

“Waugh Construction is also the official distributor of Permastore Tanks & Silos potable and wastewater solution systems for the Bahamas and parts of the Caribbean, including Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Cayman Islands, Belize, U.S. Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, and Jamaica,” Project Manager and Tank Erection Specialist Kevin Waugh says. “These tanks are glass-fused-to-steel construction and are noted for their cost effectiveness, rapid construction, long life and endurance in hurricane force winds.” 

Significant Projects

Despite the diversity of services the company offers, Waugh Construction has not been immune to worldwide economic conditions, Prudden says. “It has slowed things down, but we’re fortunate that we’re able to keep relatively busy,” he says. “We’re quite happy with that.”

The company is at work on several large projects, including one for Bahamas Oil Refining Co.’s oil storage terminal known as Vopak Terminal Bahamas. 

The scope of this project involves building containment walls and tank bases for huge tanks where crude oil, fuel oil and clean petroleum products are stored. In addition, Vopak Terminal Bahamas offers blending, transshipment and bunkering services, and has a current capacity for approximately 20 million barrels of product, he adds.

“The extensive containment walls are being constructed with reinforced concrete,” he says. “They are strategically located around clusters of these huge storage tanks to contain accidental spills and to limit any adverse effects in the unlikely event there is an accident.”

The company started the project last year and constructed approximately 4,000 linear feet of containment walls last year. It is currently working on an additional 5,000 linear feet. The first phase is expected to be completed by the end of October and the company is hoping to get the second phase started in June.  

“[Waugh Construction is] always open to new technology and construction methods,” President of the Contracting Division Godfrey Waugh adds. For example, “Such an opportunity presented itself on the Ginn Sur Mer project located in West End, Grand Bahama, when we were invited to participate in the installation of an AIRVAC Vacuum Sewer System in each of their three subdivisions. 

“Vacuum sewers offer a host of construction and operational advantages that makes the technology greener than other system types,” Waugh continues. 

“Rather than using gravity sewer mains with manholes and lift stations, a vacuum sewer main is installed along with the associated vacuum sewer pits, which service the homes and a vacuum station for collecting the waste. From the vacuum station, the waste is pumped to the sewage treatment plant for processing.” 

Economic Challenges

Although Waugh Construction has managed to stay active during this economic crisis, Prudden says the market is feeling the impact. “One of the biggest market changes would be foreign investment in the islands relative to the resort development market,” he notes. “Also, many businesses within the community are having a tough time just trying to keep their doors open. 

“Redevelopment or renovation works have been put on hold,” he adds. “This is the worst economic crisis we’ve experienced in the company’s history, I would venture to say.

“The weak economy and fall off in consumer spending has negatively impacted the government’s ability to move forward with many of its projects that companies such as ours would normally bid,” he explains. “This is mainly because government derives most of its revenues from import duties and stamp taxes, which are driven by the likes of consumer spending, banking transactions and real property sales and taxes, to mention a few. 

“The Bahamas has little manufacturing and relies greatly on tourism, which is about 50 percent of the total gross domestic product (GDP) and directly or indirectly employs about half of the active work force,” he continues. “The banking and [financial] sectors are next, accounting for around 15 to 20 percent of the total GDP. 

“With the downturn in the U.S. economy – beginning around 2007 – tourism in the Bahamas declined severely, causing massive layoffs and hotel closures,” Prudden continues. As a result, “Almost immediately, merchants experienced a drop off in business causing layoffs and many closures. 

“This caused a domino effect,” Prudden explains. “Consumers aren’t spending as freely as before the worldwide recession; therefore, merchants are importing smaller quantities of merchandise, which relates to lower revenues through import duties and stamp taxes for the government to invest in substantial civil construction projects.

“Very little manufacturing is done in the islands,” he adds. “Therefore, we depend almost totally on imports form other nations, especially the United States. In lieu of income taxes, the Bahamian government collects an average duty in the range of 45 percent or higher on practically all imports. Duties on automobiles can range anywhere from 55 percent to 85 percent. Duties are based on the combined total of an item’s invoiced value and its freight charges. One can appreciate the difficulties faced by the government in its efforts to keep the economy moving if imports slow.”

Good Reputation

Prudden doesn’t doubt the company’s ability to bounce back from the recession and notes several attributes that set it apart from the competition. “First, the fact that it’s family owned and highly respected,” he says. “Secondly, people know the individuals in the family. They know that they are good people and that they stand behind their name. The reputation and good will of our company name are very important to us. Most of our business is referral.” 

“Working with Waugh Construction has afforded me the opportunity to work on every major island in the Bahamas,” President of the Equipment Division Brian Waugh says. “Keeping our fleet of more than 70 pieces of heavy construction equipment, dump trucks and other light vehicles work-ready is challenging, and never permits for a dull moment it seems.”

“I have worked with Harold in Waugh Construction for 20 years and there has always been the highest level of integrity with the company’s reputation being unsurpassed. This is very important to me,” Director and Engineer Vedanand “Hari” Hariprashad says.

“We are recognized for our work because we stand by everything we do,” Prudden adds. 

Looking Toward the Future

 The firm’s board of directors includes:

  • Harold “Sonny” Waugh 
  • Godfrey Waugh 
  • Brian Waugh 
  • Douglas Prudden
  • Gregg Waugh, president of special projects division
  • Lee Waugh Malone, board secretary 
  • nd treasurer 
  • Kevin Waugh 
  • Vedanand “Hari” Hariprashad

The company is very excited that Harold“Sonny” Waugh’s grandson Kevin Waugh is ushering in a level of stability for the future. “I am looking forward to continuing the high standards set by my grandfather, uncles and others as we move forward into new endeavors,” he says. “Lucas, my 19-month-old son, has already expressed an interest in the equipment division as he has recently been on several pieces of machinery.” 

Lee Waugh Malone’s son Michael Malone, works at the company during the summers. “He plans on working for Waugh Construction after he completes his education,” Lee Waugh Malone says. Prudden says the company is restructuring and revamping its visions and values. “In these economic times, we want to restructure in many areas of the company so that we can focus on the future,” he says. “We are transitioning from a company run by the founder to a company run by a board of directors. In this capacity Mike Lopez, office manager, CPA, was recently hired to upgrade our internal accounting and bidding processes.  

“We are expanding by creating a new company to market property and sustainable buildings and homes [called] Building Sustainable Infrastructure today for a better tomorrow. This will help provide for our Bahamian human infrastructure.

“We’re also going to look at where to put our advertising and marketing dollar, in order to make it go further,” he continues. 

“Our company wants to do more than just sit and wait until the economy improves. We want to be more proactive out there and do things to help make the market change, gain momentum and be well-positioned when it does rebound.”

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