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Tropical’s Doug Cowper tasked with streamlining Bahamian trade

By Hilary Reeves

Doug Cowper’s father hails from the rocky, wind-whipped shores of Scotland. His mother grew up swimming in the clear, warm waters of the Bahamas.

Doug Cowper stands in front of the Tropic Tide wearing an orange vest.
Doug Cowper stands in front of the Tropic Sun during a recent call to Nassau

“My sister and I always got different perspectives from our parents, having a conservative dad from Europe and a laid back ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ Caribbean mom,” said Cowper, Tropical Shipping’s Bahamas Trade Manager in Nassau. “But there were two things they did agree upon: the importance of manners, and treating others equally with respect and decency.”

Cowper’s father left Scotland for the Bahamas in the 1960s after accepting a position at a local bank. He met Cowper’s mother, and later left banking behind to manage breweries and soft drink canning plants throughout the Caribbean. Cowper spent the first nine years of his life traveling between the islands of Grenada, Barbados, Belize, and Haiti. He spent the next decade at a boarding school in Scotland.

“When I returned to Nassau, I was 22 years old and had some work experience in the hotel industry,” he said.

Cowper spent the first 10 years of his career on the islands in the Duty Free retail sector, where he was able to experience firsthand and appreciate the importance and necessity of supply chain management and the transportation of goods. But it wasn’t until he joined Tropical as the Nassau Sales Manager that he truly internalized both the complexity and simplicity of Tropical’s objectives.

“Externally, we illustrate a seamless supply of transportation solutions, however it never ceases to amaze me how, internally, we produce the endless amount of teamwork necessary to the movement of cargo, and how each team plays a pivotal role in our successes. It’s difficult to articulate the selfless lengths our teams will go through to ensure our customers and their cargo are taken care of, but it goes much further than that;  it’s the desire to prepare and support the communities we serve everyday, and in the event of natural disaster and disaster management.”

Cowper, wearing business clothes, plays soccer with a couple of schoolboys in Nassau.
Cowper during a recent stop to deliver soccer and basketballs to a primary school in Nassau, a gift from Tropical Shipping.

Cowper counts himself fortunate to have been mentored by great leaders and afforded numerous opportunities to grow alongside the company, including his tutelage from the Nassau Sales, Customer Service, and Operations teams when he took on the responsibility of Nassau Port Manager in 2010.

“I’m extremely proud of the Nassau teams’ transition from John Alfred Dock to the Nassau Container Port and Gladstone Freight Terminal in 2012. It was a mammoth task after being on John Alfred Dock for more than  40 years, and the transition and transfer of opening and closing ports and warehouses in a short amount of time with little to no negative effect on our internal and external customers was simply outstanding.”

Looking back, Cowper said he wishes he had learned at an earlier age the importance of being tenacious, patient, and not giving up easily on goals, wisdom he applies both to his professional life and his favorite past-time: the Scottish-born game of golf.

“I really enjoy the game of golf and what the game stands for, the camaraderie and the opportunities it allows to make and maintain friends and friendships.”

The future of Tropical, he said, looks bright.Cowper stands smiling in a warehouse, wearing an orange reflective vest.

“I’m proud of the direction the company is going in, and having joined the Saltchuk family only solidifies that the opportunities for all are endless,” he concluded. “I’m pleased that during the evolution of globalization in the Caribbean it hasn’t taken away the culture and personal identity of our islands. Richard Branson authored one of my favorite quotes: ‘Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.’”