Hummingbird Furnishings is one of those Belizean businesses that grew up from the ground with a lot of blood, sweat, tears and not to mention a lot of faith. Founder, owner and entrepreneur, Robert “Bobby” Lopez has come a long way as a businessman, from putting all his savings, hopes and dreams into a tiny workshop to start making furniture himself in 1987, today he boasts the Hummingbird Group Ltd, that includes Hummingbird Furnishings, Hummingbird Suites and Hummingbird Forest Products strongly established in Belmopan City.
Bobby Lopez attributes his success to hard work, faith, a great Belizean product and a client base that he considers family and values for their continued supported since day one of opening shop. With this in mind, one of the things that Mr. Lopez did as part of his company’s 35th anniversary celebrations, was to honor and thank his very first client and his most loyal customer who happen to be from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.
Mr. Lopez invited island business-folks Mr. Seferino Paz and Ms. Nellie Gomez to his Hummingbird Furnishings showroom in San Pedro to present them with a token of appreciation as long-time customers. Ms. Gomez of Nellie’s Property Management was gifted with a Queen Elizabeth Armchair that was first designed and custom-made for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II for her 1994 visit to Belize. Hummingbird Furnishings was commissioned to create a royal chair for Her Majesty to sit on while she addressed Parliament at the National Assembly in the Capital City of Belmopan.
Ms. Nellie Gomez was pleasantly surprised with her new Queen Elizabeth Armchair, pictured here with Mr. Robert Lopez
Seferino Paz Sr., was Bobby’s first client who helped him get the business off the ground. His son Seferino ‘Chefy’ Paz on the other hand to accept his gift. He was given a choice of the Prince Phillip version of the Elizabeth Armchair, a wooden/rattan lounge chair or a custom recliner. He needed some time to decide.
Ambergris Today joins the community of San Pedro to wish Hummingbird Furnishing and Mr. Bobby Lopez a happy 35th anniversary and continued prosperity. You can visit the Hummingbird Furnishings Showroom on Coconut Drive, San Pedro or online by visiting www.hummingbirdfurnishing.com . They are offering a 35% discount throughout October in celebration of their anniversary.
Remembering 35 Years Ago - by Robert Lopez
The year was 1987. It had been almost a year since I had resigned from Flynn Furniture Factory in November of 1986. I had spent the last 10 months praying and working my plan to get back into the furniture business by October of 1987. My three years as manager at Flynn had taught me that the last quarter of the year is the best time for selling furniture. Hotels were gearing up for the next tourist season and people were looking forward to new furniture for Christmas.
The first challenge on the entrepreneurship journey was to secure the finances to buy the initial tools needed to make furniture. I had already leased a lot from RECONDEV and had built a small garage. I first approached the DFC but after a couple months back & forth I knew I needed to explore other avenues. I then approached Mr. Domingo Reyes, Manager of the Royal Bank of Canada in Belmopan and within two days was able to secure a $6,000.00 loan without any collateral. This was about 10% of what I really needed but it was going to have to stretch. I had registered the name “Hummingbird Wicker Works” since it was the first business to open on the Hummingbird Highway in Belmopan.
With the limited loan funds, I purchased the very basic tools I would need to get started, figuring that after generating some revenue I would reinvest in bigger and better machines. I always remember my first table saw was a skill saw bolted upside down under a wooden table.
It was now September 1987 and the workshop was set up but I needed to purchase my first shipment of wicker and rattan that had to be imported from a trading company out of New York. I had already gotten a pro-forma quotation which came up to a little over $4,000.00 US. I figured I would have to sell the only vehicle I had to raise that money as I could not borrow anymore from the bank. I vividly remember that September morning when my brother Mark and I had just finished our morning devotion and the phone rang. He answered and said it was Seferino Paz from San Pedro and he wished to speak with me.
Mr. Paz informed me that he was finishing the second floor of the Sun Breeze Hotel and needed to order the furniture. When I was at Flynn we had furnished his first floor rooms. I explained that I was no longer at Flynn but was now starting my own furniture business and would love to fill his order. He told me as long as I could guarantee delivery before Thanksgiving, he would give me the order. I assured him and he then gave me the list of items he would need. Then before hanging up he said, “I know you will need a deposit and I’m leaving the country today so I would like to have the quotation this morning so I can leave you a cheque. Those words were sweet music to my ears! I could hardly believe my prayers were being answered!
Not having made even a single piece of furniture, all I could do is quote the prices that I could remember from my time at Flynn. I wrote out the quotation and went to BTL to fax it over to Mr. Paz. He then wrote out a check and my sister Lliani who was teaching at the time picked it up and sent it by plane to me. The total estimate had come up to a little over $17,000.00 and I remember the check being about $8,500.00. I went straight to the bank and bought the US draft to pay for my first shipment of raw material. It was almost exactly what I needed. From that day onward, our business has had morning devotions up to this day. The Bible says that God knows our needs before we even ask and has promised to provide us those needs, if we ask in faith.
Two weeks later on October 4th 1987, I would run into Mr. Paz at my sister’s wedding in Belmopan. She and Felipe were getting married at the Belmopan Convention Hotel and he reminded me of my commitment to get his furniture to San Pedro before Thanksgiving in 1987. I opened Hummingbird Wicker Works the following day, Monday October 5th 1987. We worked diligently 7 days a week and delivered the order in time for Thanksgiving. The Paz family went on to support our products with their Banyan Bay and Grand Colony developments.
We met Nellie Gomez in the early 90’s when she became the manager of the Paradise Villas, Nellie has become our faithful customer always promoting our products to her clients and getting new covers and refurbishing over the years.
Hummingbird Furnishings is honored to recognize and show our appreciation to both Nellie Gomez and Chefy Paz for their continued patronage over these 35 years and look forward to supplying their establishments with our beautiful furniture, built for a lifetime.