Bati Bleki Weekly Recap, July 17th, 2017

Succession and reinvention

A family business is a wonderful thing. Bust most family businesses have a few inherent challenges. One of them is succession. When I started Marketing Plus NV in the late 80s, I never thought about succession. And most people at the onset of their business enterprise never think about it. The issue comes up later, sometimes too late, when seniors wish to retire and no one is breaking down their door, dying to become their successor.

The second inherent challenge is the difficulty of a family business to reinvent itself. Some retail stores such as record stores, camera stores, book stores, are heading for extinction, the decks are stacked against them, and unless they reinvent themselves, and offer an experience beyond ordinary retail, they are kaput.

For those two reasons what is happening at Antraco is remarkable. The fire a few years ago, says Robert Croes, forced us to rethink a few things. Bottom line, they shuffled businesses around, then closed some, kept others, and are now busy developing the family-owned real estate into a business plaza. Domino’s Pizza, Coffee Table, the Wine Room, EQ3, Love & Paradise, are just a few of the new and exciting businesses recently established in the Antraco plaza and Robert reports all locations, except one, are rented at L. G. Smith 126.

My father, says Robert, was always pro change, he never dug his heels in, so we were able, as a family to do things differently as times were changing.

They always had a strong office furniture and office machine wholesale business to rely on, but now their real estate division is driving things. Retail will eventually phase out, and the popular copy center relocated, as a community service.

I saw some of the architectural drawings for the complex, it will look very nice when it all comes together, and beside two excellent anchor stores, EQ3 and Love & Paradise, we should expect a hair stylist, a shoe store, a healthy juice bar, and a gym. The back part of the property will be redesigned with a wooden deck, so that the Wine Room may face into the courtyard with a large outdoor area.

Food will represent 35% of the plaza, Robert says, and we expect our tenants to offer shopping and dining experiences, beyond the ordinary.

Personally, I think Coffee Table did just that. Convenient parking, good food, great coffee. It has a wow effect on people as they walk in and it delivers personal service in a cozy atmosphere. The new Domino now dominates the downtown area for pizza deliveries and stylish legal eagle diva Lalo, now helps to chicly dress us!

The 5 Stages of Grief & Loss

I found on the 5 stages of grief and loss and decided it was appropriate to quote, in the wake of the Boegoeroei tragedy, and in view of trouble in education, law enforcement, child protection, family relationships, spousal abuse and all other issues preoccupying the national psyche at the moment.

The five stages are: 1. Denial ; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance.

People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them, but the stages of grief and mourning are universal and are experienced by people from all walks of life, across all cultures.

Ok, so something bad happens, a young Policeman loses his life, a teacher flips out, a child is molested or bullied, I am not comparing these personal tragedies, just clumping them under traumatic occurrences. How do we react?

  1. Denial: No, we say, no way, this is not happening here, not in Aruba, not to me, how can that be? We deny the reality of the situation, as a temporary response to the shock and the pain.

No, he did not hit me! How could he be dead, he is so young! She did what? It is not possible, I don’t believe it!

  1. Anger: WTF, we are fuming, and turn against the MinJust, the MinEdu, Goa, the Unions, the Universe, as an intense emotion grabs us, and we are livid. We feel vulnerable and victimized and we lash out with demonstrations, and manifestos, we feel guilty for not acting earlier and we are mad as hell, on fire, going the get these criminals/assholes, right this moment.
  2. Bargaining: Suddenly, our fire fizzles. We feel helpless and hopeless and we want to gain control of our emotions again so we bargain, we talk to God, to ourselves, to the universe, we say to ourselves we should have done something earlier, provided guidance, inspection, bought proper equipment, organized more training; we should have been better parents, better neighbors, best managers, better citizens. This is when we start feeling exhausted and stuck; the situation is just too much to bear.
  3. Sadness: We are depressed, sad, under a black cloud, nothing could consol us, we can hardly get out of bed. This is the end of the world as we know it.
  4. Acceptance: Then one day we recognize that we are here on loan, our time here is limited and life is imperfect, we quote spiritual quotes, we go to church, and we go back to doing what we always did, until the next traumatic, heartbreaking episode.

So life goes on, the cycle repeats, and nothing changes, the husband/wife abuse their spouse again, the kids fall prey to predators again, the Policemen again face situations unprepared, and the teacher/customs agents again remain burned-out, unchecked, uninspected and unguided, we’re all trapped in the same-old, same-old cycle.

Until someone does something differently.

And that is always the key to change, responding differently.


What a difference one letter makes!

You might already know that the Aruba Tourism Authority is a Destination Marketing Organization, right? It is in charge of marketing Aruba.  But recently at an AHATA membership meeting we were introduced to ATA as a Destination Marketing & Management Organization, in other words over the past few months/years it went from DMO, to DMMO.

What does the additional M represent?

The M which stands for management indicates that ATA expanded its areas of influence. It added a few staff members, created a new department, and diversified its activities.


Patrick Melchior had an entire presentation regarding the management aspect of the organization, outlining ATA’s achievements, and the Current Destination Development Programs.

Put on your seat belt: The Aruba Tourism Authority oversaw the footed the bill for directional signs in tourist areas; Signs with beach rules on popular beaches; signs explaining the bike riding trails. ATA is managing the Happy Information Officers project in tourist areas. Other projects funded and managed include Free WiFi installations in key areas; the graceless, soviet-style monument for Tourism Pioneers; Lolita, the yet to be installed public art sculpture; The construction, and total area rehabilitation of Plaza Padu; The beach refresh at Surfside, including fishing 88 motor blocks used as anchors from the bottom of the bay; 4 street cars/trams, double deckers, single deckers; the Blue Horses in Oranjestad; the Beach Kiosks at Costa Linda, La Cabana, Arashi & Surfrise Beach; and the Flea Market nooks at the Cruise Ship Terminal; The Carubbian festival.

I am sure I forgot a few, including this concert and that festival, but those were booked under events.

Don’t misunderstand me, these are all overdue, valuable projects but the question is: Does tourism tax money, or the ATA bank, designed to MARKET Aruba, does that money derived from room tax have to finance all of that?

If tourism takes care of tourism in such broad sense, what will the MInInfra do? Nothing much.

He won’t have to lift a finger, because tourism does it all, and he can continue to receive people at his home from dawn to dusk, and approve all of their land requests because all other work has been done for him by the ATA.

You’re asking: When did we add the M of Management to the Destination Marketing Organization?

A while ago. When the former MinTour realized that he is in charge of a lot of cash, the so called ATA bank, he quickly added things to do to his list, so that he successfully manages to spend the millions at his disposal.

I was sitting at the AHATA members meeting at the Olympus table, the gods of the industry were seated around the front of the room, they were puzzled, steam coming out of their ears, hearing how their hard earned cash is spent on secondary issues.

And while it is positive that so many things get done, there is criticism about ATA’s transition to DMMO, and it is not directed at any particular person(s) but rather a signal for leadership to be careful about moving into areas outside of their core expertise.

ATA is first and foremost a leading marketing organization and with tourism representing over 80% of the island’s GDP, the gods of the Olympus are concerned when it starts to take on other responsibilities outside of marketing. It’s a fact that most companies get into trouble when they divert from their core business which is what made them successful in the first place.

Queeny says politics are addictive

We should all watch the political debate tonight, televised live, from a sold out Cas Di Cultura when the battle for Millennial votes unfolds.

(Generation Y:  Early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years.)

Basically there are about two government seats on the line, with more than 4,700 new voters who will be allowed to voice their political opinion for the first time in September.

The initiative for the debate, by Queeny Bergen, is quite extraordinary. Queeny, a lawyer by training and an online marketeer by profession reports she first organized two or three encounters within small groups to try to obtain more information on the various political platforms. Then her friends at Co.Lab.  – a community where start ups, young entrepreneurs, creative geniuses, artists, and techies in Aruba meet to co-share, co-create, and collaborate — asked her to think big.

And she did. Together with a crew of 20 volunteers they conducted a survey and identified the issues-du-jour, environment, education, economy, law-enforcement, immigration, and have been working since April on the organization of a public political debate, designed to satisfy the curiosity and the need-to-know of Millennials.

The ticket for tonight’s event was Awg 10, and the place sold out; the rest of us will have to watch it on TV.

On a personal note, Queeny whose full name is QueenAnne – mom was a romantic – says that she surprised herself by finding politics so riveting, and complex. When she graduated law, she worked for three years as an attorney, then in true Millennial fashion decided it was not her calling. She now works for a small online marketing company as a specialist, servicing clients in the business community, which makes her much happier.

The Millennial debate came into the limelight this week when Aruba’s government party released to the press that it will not be participating.

Queeny’s response is that from the very first start, the Millennial debate required the participating of the head of the party, not any other candidates, and the green party’s desire to send their Millennial candidate to debate was not acceptable, since the goal of the event is to feature top bananas.

We’ve been working for 16 weeks, she shares, politics are addictive,  as far as we are concerned 10 parties will show up tonight for a 1 minute presentation each, at the start, then a Q&A session with emcees Judelca Briceno and Edward Erasmus will follow. The emcees are both sharp, highly educated professionals; then a smaller encounter in groups of three will ensue. The evening will run from 7pm to 10:30pm, and we should expect more rehearsed politicians this time. We hear they have been training!

Bells on Bikes

The other day I was walking in the morning, on the edge of the boulevard on my way back from Arashi, and whoosh, a bicycle rolled by me, 20 cm away, and took me by surprise, it was so quiet, if I had stretched, or extending my arm spontaneously, the rider would have her neck yanked and my arm clobbered. I hardly recuperated from that surprise encounter when another bike rolled by stealthily, too close for comfort.


Why don’t bicycles have bells anymore. You should have them installed and warn pedestrians you are coming. True, I was walking on the right hand side of the road, I should have been on the left with my face to oncoming traffic, but that happens frequently in Malmok that exercises walk/run back and forth on the ocean side.

Bike riders: Pedestrians are unpredictable, they can change their course, decide to cross the street, then cause your crash, ring that goddamn bell, as a warning.

Pastechi house, a family business on the main street

It’s easy to find. Just walk down the street to the King & Queen pictures, and you have arrived at The Pastechi House on Caya Betico Croes. The full size images were created as décor, in honor of the royal visit to Aruba, and ended up as a landmark.

The way Justy tells it, every time her father, Justo Lopez, took her and her brother out, they had to have pastechi. The kids just loved the local filled pastry, and wanted to have it every day.

True to his businessman instinct, Justo came home one day and told his wife they will be opening a pastechi factory, and a store-front called The Pastechi House, just to make the kids happy.

Then during the FIFA World Cup Games Justo was inspired by Goal El Gaucho and booked Goal Pastechi House on ATV.  Overnight his brand became a household name with commentator Cadoshi Kock, announcing eleven scored goals in a row.

Justy feels that the Office System/Pastechi House promotion, that suggested grabbing the popular snack and sitting on it, also improved the brand’s name recognition in the community proving the inspired advertising works.

Today, while the factory assembly line  is located in Eagle, the outlet on the main street is a big attraction for locals and tourists, offering a variety of FOURTEEN fillings including Lobster, the real thing, Justo accepts no imitation, Smoked Salmon, Keri Keri, Chop Suey, besides the Ham, Ham & Cheese, Cheese, Chicken, Certified Angus Beef,  and the one filling about to become my favorite, I am sure, when I taste it on Monday, Samosa filling with garam masala, turmeric, chile powder, potato, peas and carrots. I can’t wait.

Justy started working in the factory fresh out of high school, following her father’s footsteps and becoming an accomplished businesswoman. Then one day she decided to add a bit of higher education to her resume, enrolling in a teacher’s training program, at IPA, Instituto Pedagogico Arubano.

She just recently graduated and is an elementary school teacher now, half day, the other half is dedicated to the family’s business. “ I fell in love with teaching,” she says, “besides, you can never be overdressed or overeducated,” she adds.

In May, Justy’s partner joined the family business, Ernon Croes, with a solid sales and marketing background, he is handling the store. Justy hopes that lil’ bro, the other half of the pastechi-loving duo, will take over the factory when he graduates university.

Then Justo can retire. Maybe.

What can you have with your Pastechi. Coffee, of course.  But the Pastechi House also makes delicious frappes, fresh fruit batidos, and frozen, slushy libations. You may eat in or take out. Besides Pastechi the store also offers croquets, deditos, and French fries. And more new products are forthcoming. The second-generation entrepreneurs are all full of ideas and energy.


Share on:

July 16, 2017
Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster