Wednesday , November 30 2022

ICS celebrates tenth anniversary

Saba’s main business centre and mailing-services provider Island Communication Services (ICS) celebrates its tenth anniversary within the newly opened offices at Breadline Plaza in Windwardside.Both ICS owners and managers,
Alida Heilbron and her life and business partner Bob Morgan, have been involved with The Daily Herald since 1996, initially contributing photos and stories. Later they handled advertisements and subscriptions for this newspaper while securing distribution. Both are elated to reopen their business’ doors in the new commercial plaza.
Heilbron said in a Daily Herald article the staff loves the new office space and atmosphere. With hammocks outside under the veranda and large windows throughout, the new location gives a fresh positive outlook to the decade-old business. “I’ve noticed a change in the demeanour of my employees. They are happier with the natural lighting,” said Heilbron. Born in Suriname, she landed on St. Maarten in 1992 from The Netherlands where she grew up. She arrived here to work for Saba Drivers’ License Organization and fell in love with the island and with Bob, her partner in life. They raised two children here, Elaysia and Jody, balancing family life with full-time jobs while starting their business. Driver’s-license tourism was a booming industry at the time, Heilbron explained. Soon after her arrival in 1993, the loophole was closed leaving a substantial economic void. Eager to keep her residency she worked as a waitress and just in time Saba University School of Medicine (SUSOM) established itself here. She was hired first as a financial assistant by Frank Chambers who jumpstarted the Med School with some five faculty members and barely 20 students. “It was fun. I knew everybody, their dog and their grandmothers,” Heilbron said.
In 1999, she was approached by St. Maarten mailbox service Parcel Plus to become their Saba-agent. She “learnt the ropes” with few customers, mostly faculty expats. Frustrated with service delays, Heilbron was encouraged to start her own business. She soon learnt that small St. Maarten-based mailbox company Island Communication Services was for sale and bought it. The US $250 transaction comprised 10 Saba customers, a logo and a scale. First she operated from home, but when the business gradually picked up, she started printing business cards, posters and other office materials for a growing number of customers. In 2002, Heilbron decided to get her own office and rented part of Ronald Johnson’s property, which now houses the Chamber of Commerce and the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) branch in Windwardside. She opened the doors of ICS in 2003, officially registering the business with the Chamber of Commerce on St. Maarten. Since then the business grew tenfold. She realized that for the business to thrive she needed to diversify and find niche services not yet provided. Thus, Heilbron gradually became representative of Gulf Insurance, United Parcel Service (UPS), then DHL and Caribtrans. She expanded her professional printing capacity with T-shirt and textile printing and in 2006 Morgan opened a car rental. Noticing that many residents do not possess credit cards and cannot purchase online or from catalogues from the United States, Heilbron opened up a service dedicated to international purchases and delivery. This became a significant service and having some space available they next opened an Internet café and video rental.
Heilbron “wears many different hats,” as a Century21 real-estate agent and most recently, as an import tax broker. “It was not easy with two children and a full-time job to manage and develop a business,” said Heilbron, adding “I will be forever grateful to my family, because I know they suffered from me not always being there.”
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2 comments

  1. Congratulation Alida and Bob. Well done, your success due to hard work and creativity is well deserved. Good luck for you and your business at the new location.

  2. Thanks Wolfgang. I would like to think that I am, too, an example of how dreams, hard work, (family) support, dedication, a bit of luck, and perseverance can make you a successful individual!

    And of course, I would not have reached this milestone without my personnel and loyal customers. Thank you everyone!