In 2011 Global Laboratories and Health Services, now located in Old Harbour, was facing formidable challenges. Opening just before the recessionary period, it took guts and gusto from management and team to have its services not only still available, but also to chart a path for growth, development and expansion of its service offerings.“How could you give me notice to cease occupation when I am about to turn the business around for better; are you not concerned about others?” Mahalia Watson recalled saying to her then Landlord at Molynes Road in the nation’s capital Kingston. “This could be the actual turn around,” a team member offered, as a shocked Watson observed. In July 2011 while wandering through the town of Old Harbour in search of new clientele, Watson burst into laughter and mused to herself, ‘why not move to Old Harbour?’ As divine as the musings were, so was the journey of relocating the company, one of the most difficult tasks for any fledgling business anywhere in the world, let alone Jamaica, and made even more difficult by the fact that the decision was taken at short notice with a deadline for exiting former premises fast approaching. Watson, principal director and manager of the company, found herself in an unenviable position. But perhaps growing up in rural Jamaica and being “an island and a globe trotter” made her the ideal candidate for such a task. By sheer coincidence or “divine intervention” Old Harbour was the place of choice. Resettling into a new environment is usually not an easy thing. And so it was for Watson and her business. “I am being consumed by the deluge of work involved, but how can I stop after God gave me this open door?” she told Old Harbour News in an interview outside the precincts of her 5 South Street, Old Harbour office. “Old Harbour chose me,” she added in retrospect. “I had no referral about the town, limited experience within its boundaries and I did not do any research. I just followed my inspiration! Today I have no regrets.” As she recounted several hiccups, she smiled broadly, saying “all the challenges now pale in comparison to the opportunities I am now able to capitalize on and create for the business, the team and the clients”. With even more enthusiasm she adds, “as a rule, I welcome challenges because my experience in life and business has unreservedly cemented the fact that every blessing come disguised as a challenge”. Perspective on Old Harbour Four years onwards, Watson is in love with this tiny town along the Jamaican south coast that now accommodates approximately 50,000 people residing and/or doing business. As one of the fastest growing towns on the island, due to a massive influx of housing projects, Old Harbour – a town historically famous for seafood, bammy and dancehall parties – is projected to grow twice as much in the near future. The demand for quality goods and services is naturally on the rise here and while there is talks of a logistic hub on the Goat Islands situated less than a mile off the Old Harbour Bay coast, there are significant spin-offs projected for any business located in the town. Essentially, opportunities abound more than ever for Old Harbour and its people. But in an era dominated by the Internet and more-so social media, quality and diversity are distinct advantages. It is precisely what Watson and her small staff have set out to achieve. Hence the provision of a health and wellness component that complements its core functions as a medical laboratory testing facility. Watson, a certified medical laboratory technologist and a Landmark Life Coach said: “We thought ‘how could we be different?’ Everybody does testing and reporting. So we thought having a health service component will make a difference and be a mark of distinction. So we started to (offer free) suggestions to clients, suggestions that would support them nutritionally and if someone require significant intervention we refer them to practicing medical, health and wellness professionals. We actually have two wellness affiliates whom we refer our clients to for further help with nutrition and lifestyle changes.” “We are about to introduce health products to the town of Old Harbour as well as a wider scope of health and wellness services,” she added. Looking Forward While the diversity of services is important, it is also critical for Watson and her team to remain true to its core functions so as not to be outdone by the competition. And they are quite a few in Old Harbour. Presently, plans are afoot to streamline its operations to offer same-day test results – done now only if a test is deemed urgent by the patient’s general practitioner. “We are building the laboratory’s capacity to generate results and reports the same day and before the end of 2015 we will have that system in place,” she said, noting that Global Laboratories is implementing value-added systems and causing client satisfaction. Behind the Scenes Watson then explained: “There are many things that happen behind the scenes. We’ve upgraded our testing technology with two new analyzers and we continue to asses and project for the needs of Old Harbour and other populations; we are currently in negotiation with laboratory software providers to procure a laboratory information system which will improve operational efficiency by at least 30 per cent.