Mr Lowell Hawthorne was a good man

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

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We can't begin to imagine the pain being felt by the family of Mr Lowell Hawthorne, arguably the most successful black Jamaican in business overseas, who tragically passed away last Saturday in New York.

However, this newspaper in particular, and the wider Jamaica, especially our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, share the family's grief. For we had come to know Mr Hawthorne as not only a good man and patriot, but a decent human being.

Mr Hawthorne's grit and determination to succeed in business, as well as his unwavering dedication to Jamaica while living in the United States were among the qualities that influenced this newspaper's decision to include him and his Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill chain in our 2010 Business Leader Award programme.

Jamaica will recall that he and his company took the prestigious trophy and, true to his nature, accepted the recognition “with great humility and gratitude” while saluting his late parents — Mavis and Ephraim Hawthorne — whose unconditional love, support and guiding principles, he said, laid the foundation on which he built his business and fuelled his entrepreneurial spirit.

He also thanked his family, especially his wife Lorna and daughter Monique, as well as the entire Golden Krust community, without whom he would not have been able to accomplish all that he had over the more than two decades of doing business in the United States.

Established in 1989, Golden Krust's growth has been nothing short of phenomenal. We recall that up to December 2011 when the Observer Business Leader Award was presented to Mr Hawthorne, the company was arguably the world's largest patty operation spanning 122 branches in nine states, with 1,800 employees and gross annual sales of more than US$100 million.

In October 2015, Mr Hawthorne announced that Golden Krust was on track to open 10 new stores that year and, at that time, had more than 20,000 partners across the US. A year earlier, he signed a two-year deal with Kuwait's Everest Foods Company to distribute Golden Krust patties to the Middle East.

Those developments would not have surprised people aware of Mr Hawthorne's business acumen, for he had often expounded the kind of philosophy that we have repeatedly encouraged in this space — the need to think big.

Just last December he made that very point at the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry Annual Awards Banquet.

“I stopped by to tell you to expand your business beyond the shores of Jamaica, into the Americas where there are no borders. Think globally, think export, think Brand Jamaica and explore every opportunity to market our products, our country... to those ready and waiting in the wings,” Mr Hawthorne urged.

“I want to encourage you to stay focused and build a lasting legacy for Jamaica and our people,” he added.

“If you are from Flanker, dream big; if you are from Tivoli Gardens, dream big, if you are from Rema, dream big. Do not let your zip code or community determine your destination. You may be the product of your past, but it should not be the trap of your past. Don't be afraid to dream big, don't be afraid to dream alone. Only be afraid not to dream at all,” he said.

That speech earned him a standing ovation.

Today, the Jamaica Observer stands and applauds.

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