A sneak peek at Frankie "Krazy Tee" Bellot: Dominica's leading entertainment entrepreneur
I arranged an interview with Frankie "Krazy Tee" Bellot at his office at Kairi FM. Why? Well, for one, this guy intrigues me because he goes after what he wants no matter the obstacles. Krazy does not know this but I have presented him in my business classes as an example of a true entrepreneur; one who takes risks, one with great vision. Whatever you think of the man, Frankie embodies the qualities of a true entrepreneur and, it appears, he has been kept alive for that purpose.
In 1977, 10 year-old age, Frankie migrated to St Thomas. There he attended high school and university where he was trained in policing; he subsequently assigned to a special unit of the St. Thomas police force.
But Frankie says that was not enough for him. He is a visionary and lived by the motto of the army which he served "Be all what you can be, 'cause the sky is the limit".
So in 1990 he went into auto repairs and with his drive, vision and ambition he realised that there was money to be made in the auto business and before you knew it Frankie was travelling to New York purchasing vehicles for $800; he would recondition them and then sell them for about $5000 in a market he astutely identified. He said that on each vehicle he made profits of about $3000 and he sold five cars a week. He added that for about 10 years he had no need to spend his police officer's salary.
Frankie quickly dispels the story that his initial financial resources came from insurance payments after an accident in 1997 that occurred when he was en route to his daughter's birthday party. The plane crashed when he was traveling from St Croix to St Thomas. Because of Frankie's will to survive and by the help of God he swam from 8pm to about 2am safely to the shores of St Thomas. He was the only one out of nine persons on board who survived. Frankie said he received only approximately $50,000 in insurance compensation because the airline, Air Sunshine, filed for bankruptcy. Frankie said he had already acquired asset far in excess of this sum through his innovativeness and hard work.
But as if this was not enough, within a few weeks a near fatal accident with a fork lift in his car dealership almost killed him when he was inadvertently rammed by the operator. Frankie knew by then he had a reason to live. He says his strong Seventh Day Adventist up-bringing and his dear Mom's prayers were responsible for his survival. Frankie's mother lives in Grandbay; his father is Flexi Symes.
After 20 years living and working overseas Frankie come home and investment. At that time he held discussions with the ruling United Workers Party (UWP) of Edison James and with the National Development Corporation (NDC) led by Sheridan Gregoire. Frankie's first dream was the establishment of a water bottling plant at Geneva Estate in Grandbay but the NDC boss seemed to have other intentions directed at an investment in land at Castle Comfort that would cost Frankie about half a million dollars, representing about a sixth of his Scotia Bank account.
Afterwards, Frankie shifted his focus to a T-shirt printing business. Then another investment opportunity came through Island Communications. Robert Joseph, the owner of that radio station was experiencing financial difficulty and requested substantial funds to help the cash strapped company. Shareholders Duncan Stowe and another person sold their shares and afterwards the documents revealed that Krazy had the majority shares in the business. Frankie says he invested over half a million dollars to pay debts of what has now become Kairi Fm.
Additionally, the opportunity came for the purchase of the former Green Grass Hopper, an entertainment spot. Frankie bailed the business out with one million dollars initially but a subsequent fire and repairs to the business cost a further three million. Then there was the cost of soundproofing for the rebranded Krazy Kokonut; that left him with a figure of $50,000 that he had to pay monthly to repay the loans.
About that Krazy sighs: "Jacko you doe know"
Meanwhile, there were challenges like, fielding criticism about funds that he received through a Government facility set up to assist entertainment enterprises followed by complaints from nearby hoteliers about noise that affected guests- hence sound proofing was paramount.
But there was something about radio that Frankie could not resist; its power to reach and influence people during political campaigns and entertaining through social activity is unsurpassed.
Now, Gator Soundz completed the entertainment tripod- t-shirt printing, bands, sound system, radio stations and the number one entertainment spot on island. Krazy has now set his eyes on St. Lucia where he has purchased the former Caribbean Harmony radio station.
"The frequency is the same as in Dominica", he beams.
While showing me his radio equipment, Frankie said his station can be heard as far as Grenada, having conquered all corners of Guadeloupe and Martinique as well as St Marten. He said his updated digital frequency was second to none on island and added that he has sponsored, assisted and created employment for scores of Dominicans. Now his vision is to extend the Kairi franchise throughout the OECS.