Do not despise humble beginnings

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A PROUD MOMENT: Husband and wife team, Vui Sebastian and Shorley Mariner during the opening of their new office at Lotopa.

A PROUD MOMENT: Husband and wife team, Vui Sebastian and Shorley Mariner during the opening of their new office at Lotopa.

Local civil engineering and media firm, O.S.M Investments, officially opened the doors of its new office premises at Lotopa, on Thursday. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi declared office opened with the ribbon jointly cut by Lottie Fata, Laufaleaina Toafa Eli, Luamanuvae Taylor and Tutaitaga Mariner. O.S.M Investments, which trades under its two Divisions, O.S.M Consultants and OneLook Communications, was established in 2002 from humble beginnings within the owners’ home. This their story as told by Managing Director, Vui Sebastian Mariner during the opening:

 

We are delighted to have this occasion to celebrate with you the opening of our new Lotopa Office Headquarters. The 2 storey office presently sits on a ¾ acre property and houses OSM Consultants on the first floor and OneLook Communications, the sister multimedia and community development arm of OSM on the ground floor. 

We also have built into the ground floor an internet Cafe + a small conference room to provide comfortable conferencing type facilities for up to 10 people. 

We take this opportunity to acknowledge our builder, Schwalger Design Build Limited, the Managing Director, lau tofa Asa’asa Alan Schwalger and his good lady Ms Manamea Schwalger, the site manager Aunty Tala Saaga and the SDBL build team. OSM HQ was designed by OSM and constructed over a period of 12 months for a total project development cost of approx 2M tala under a labour only contract. Faafetai tele i lau tofa Asa’asa and team SDBL. 

We also acknowledge the project funding assistance from the National Bank of Samoa, CEO Tu’uu Amaramo Sialaoa, the Head of Buisness; Michael Saveatama Vaafusuaga. We thank you both for believing in OSM and making the funds available to us to fulfil this new office dream. O lau matūpalapala lea ua ou tauaaoina. A big faafetai tele from team OSM.

OSM was conceived as a legal entity from our home at Tulaele in 2002. We remember asking to borrow a used desktop computer and printer from my younger brother Winston’s garage in NZ to start our consulting business in Samoa. We did not have seed capital to start a business, only a large mortgage with ANZ at the time to pay. 

So we scratched and saved every penny to pay for paper and ink cartridges to print and bind our engineering reports. We grew quickly and moved from our home at Tulaele to Nia Mall later in the same year 2002 and then from Nia Mall to Tavita Chan Tung at Pesega around 2007. We just recently transitioned into our new offices here at Lotopa, some 10 years later. God is good. We acknowledge our former landlord, lau susuga Tavita Chan Tung and your good lady Aliitasi for the 10 years we have rented at Pesega. Thank you for the opportunity given to OSM to do business there.

We also wish to acknowledge our first clients back in 2002, ANZ Bank Samoa and National Pacific Insurance with whom we were engaged to undertake Cyclone Structural Inspections for their insured clientele. We acknowledge Tinai Gordon and Associates, who first subcontracted OSM to provide design services for the Tiavea Water Supply + Convent Street Drainage Upgrade. We remember well and treasure those days of our humble beginnings and those who have supported us at the time.

I also remember my early years as a young child, helping my parents operate a small grocery store in Salelologa, Savaii. I thank you mum and dad, lau afioga Luamanuvae Taylor and Tutaitaga Mariner for those early years of business training, honing my maths skills counting bottle tops and teaching me marketing / accounting skills training through the long service hours behind the sales counter. I also learned perseverance and patience through the late night stocking of the freezer with crates of soft drinks and Vailima beer for the next day’s sales. 

After graduating from University overseas and married, Shorley and I were given an opportunity to operate a small video rental shop in Savaii. Unfortunately, we were absentee owners and we really did not have the right business mindset and the time to properly manage the business. Our first business venture was a failure. BUT (there is a silver lining to this story) the business lessons from this very first business venture prepared Shorley and I to take up the challenge to birth OSM Consultants in Dec 2002 and later, OneLook Communications in Aug 2009. 

We take this opportunity to thank the Government of Samoa and our local business partners for extending fee paying business opportunities to OSM over the past 14 years. When Shorley and I returned from Govt funded scholarship studies in Australia around 1996, we decided then to make Samoa our permanent home base and to actively seek out business opportunities in Samoa and the wider pacific region to support our family. It was not an easy decision as overseas salaries were much more attractive. However, we decided to stay in Samoa, to be a blessing to our people and to school our children here in Samoa. We have never looked back on our decision back then to stay and do business in Samoa.

Going through the storms that life presents will always make you a much stronger person. This would be the same principle for any business. OneLook Communications was birthed at a time of our lowest business performance years, between 2009 to 2011. We set out with the help of a close friend and experienced Tax Accountant, Ray Wright, to put in place a number of initiatives to tighten our operational overhead expenditures and to better manage our cash flows from fees earned. We remember clearly the struggle we had to get financial support from the local Banks at the time. But we continued in our faith to pursue options for business diversification. In hindsight now, we have not regretted making this decision. 

We supported filming and TV production for the “Iesu le Tali” Sunday weekly Christian TV outreach programme with the charismatic speaker, Rev Joe Amosa of the AOG Church. This early initiative was a huge blessing for us to be involved in. We started out with cheap JVC cameras and a simple studio setup. All this effort positioned OneLook with the necessary industry experience to bid confidently for much bigger fee earning projects in the local media industry.

Shorley and I are both graduates of Rhema South Pacific Bible Training School, having trained there in the very early years of our business setup. We both stood in faith on the bible scripture; Math 6:33 “ To seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these things (what the gentiles seek) would be added unto you”...God is faithful to do His part, but we both needed to do our part faithfully...that is to seek FIRST God’s Kingdom and God’s righteousness..” 

We have the present privilege to serve as associate pastors under Senior Pastor Faafetai Fata of the AHC AOG Church. 

Hon Prime Minister, may I take this opportunity to also acknowledge with gratitude the privilege I have received from your Govt to serve as an active Board Director in Government appointed Boards over the past 7 years. I also wish to acknowledge having 2 other senior staff, also serving as active Board Members for 2 other Govt Boards at this present time. We are encouraged to serve willingly and cheerful in appointed market place roles, but moreso as God’s agents for Kingdom work here on earth. 

We purpose to treat all our clients with dignity, honesty and respect, and to be humble in our achievements. We desire to let others judge the works we do and not for ourselves to boast over these. The general principle remains true, we are only as good as the last job we were tasked to do!

We acknowledge the support of all our families here today, we could not be have done this project without your support and prayers. We acknowledge our senior pastor and his good lady, our close friends and business community partners, all represented here this morning. 

E fia faamauina se faafetai faapitoa i le tinā matua ia Laufa, o le grandmother lea o Shorley, i lou auai mai i le faamoemoe i le asō. Faafetai Ma mo lou tapua’ia o o matou faiva. And thank you Robert and Mousie Skews, Shorley’s parents for coming from NZ to be part of this celebration.

We thank you hon Prime Minister, hon Cabinet Ministers, Distinguished Guests and to everyone for taking time out of your very busy schedules this morning to join with our team to celebrate our new office opening this morning.

Just a final note of interest, this building actually makes use of 12mm thick recycled safety glass we

obtained from demolition sales for the old Parliament House / Fale Fono. The glass panels are a precious memento of Samoan history, where key strategic decisions for Samoa have been tabled. We have cut the original glass sheets to form glass paneled walls for our conference rooms. We have also used surplus glass panels pieces to construct a long working glass table in the internet Cafeteria, to include a working glass table for Onelook Communications staff. We wish to thank lau afioga Fonoti Likisone for giving us a part of Samoan history for OSM to incorporate into our office build. We salute Parliamentarian contributions of the past, and we fully embrace the good foundation they have laid for a prosperous future for OSM.

We’ve also used 3D wall art decoration tiles throughout the building. This is made from Bargasse, a residue

of sugarcane production and the product is 100% recyclable. These are one of the many unique features of this building which you will have a chance to see for yourself during the tour of the premises.

On this memorable occasion, I must thank and congratulate all those who have worked so hard in contributing to the dedication today of the OSM Office Headquarters. In particular, I wish to make special mention of the hard working staff of OSM Consultants and OneLook Communications, our close friends and families that have invested much time to put this event together. Thank you. 

The building opens up a new space for commitment and importance, designed to meet the demand and expectations for positive future growth. May I take this opportunity to wish the Board of Directors for OSM Investments Limited, the staff a very pleasant working environment with good health and every success.

Soifua ma ia manuia.  

© Samoa Observer 2016

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