What does it take to start a business? According to Mr. Deo Ramkhalawan, owner of DA & Associates, it takes money, time, determination, and great business partners, and when he mentioned business partners, Mr. Deo said family. He believes that family had his best interest when he started his salvaging business in 1989.
As Area Magazine sat with Mr. Deo and his employees (his family), Mr. Deo stressed his viewpoints about opening his business. He mentioned that sometimes it’s not always good to go into business with outside people. From his experience, “it didn’t work…not for me anyway. It’s the different viewpoints that became the problem.” Mr. Deo believes that everyone doesn’t share the same vision, but “family sees your vision and make it theirs.”
This is one of the reasons why Mr. Deo’s business has become one of the successful salvaging businesses in the area. With his wife, Ana, as a homemaker and support system, Mr. Deo also hired his two daughters (Cindy and Michelle Ramkhalawan Ocasio), his son (Hector Cruz), and grandson (Orlando Ramkhalawan) to help run his businesses.
Mr. Deo and Michelle, his daughter who helps him run one of his salvaging businesses, spoke about the start and the success of their business. DA & Associates has been in the salvaging business for over 25 years. Mr. Deo began his business journey while residing in Puerto Rico (originally from Trinidad) where he had his own welding business in which he did wrought iron work. He knew he wanted more and was determined to get more. In 1982, he moved his family to the United States to New Orleans, LA. He began working for a salvaging company and realized he wanted his own salvaging business. “That company taught me everything I needed to know.” With determination and family, Mr. Deo and his brothers started a salvaging business in 1989, in which his brothers later branched off and started their own businesses.
Mr. Deo and his family traveled to different cities to achieve his goal of opening his own salvaging business. “Wherever there were iron and non-ferrous metal, we went.” Mr. Deo and his family have lived in Charleston, SC, Myrtle Beach, SC, Chalmette, LA, and then finally made Amelia, LA their home and also stationed his business there. One of the most important jobs DA & Associates completed was collaborating with other companies to tear down the World Trade Center in New York. “We were ecstatic to be awarded that contract,” Michelle commented. DA & Associate experience
was truly amazing and bitter-sweet.
Business has been great, and Mr. Deo has been blessed to expand his company to another location in which his grandson (Orlando) operates. At first, DA & Associates mainly did business with offshore companies because “that’s where the money is. ”Then, DA & Associates decided to open their doors to the public in which they had great success even though they have only been opened to the public for three years. DA & Associates enjoys working with the public. “We’ve had some great customers, and we’ve met some great people since opening to the public.” Opening to the public has also helped increased revenue.
But business is not all that great at times. All businesses have that point of struggle. For DA & Associates, the major struggle of their business is the stock market. “When the stock market crashes, business crashes. No one is making money. We have to hold our materials (iron and non-ferrous), and that could be up to a year. “That’s when you began dipping into your personal accounts to make payroll and pay bills,” Michelle commented. When stock markets are up again, business is up. She emphasized it takes money to make money. “If you don’t have the money, your chances of succeeding are very slim. You have to be ready to pay the cost. You have to prepare for the ups and downs.”