My Happy time in Suriname started in January 06, I was going out there on a consultancy basis for MAGNUM Industries ltd; I flew out with KLM (not my favourite Airline) and landed in Paramaribo the Capital of Suriname. This was my first encounter with Suriname’s officialdom, in the immigration office, it was a free for all and even though I had my official papers for entry it took an age to get my Visa in that hot stuffy office. By the time I emerged from the airport building to meet a very good friend Brian Oniell (who was picking me up) I was not in a good mood, to say the least and I believe I was muttering something along the lines of “next plane home”. However Brian (as always) changed my mood almost immediately with some of his normal wisecracks and in no time we were on our way to The Golden Truly Hotel where I was to stay and work for the period of the Three Month Consultancy, after arriving and dumping my luggage in my room (The Captain Pugwash Suite! a long story) we had something to eat in the Hotel restaurant and were then off to meet Mr. Jeffery Claque Managing Director and his wife Janice. Jeffery owns MAGNUM Industries ltd and you could not wish to meet a nicer guy and he is also a very good business man, Janice is one of the best chefs I have ever met and is one of the driving forces behind the Kitchen and together they are an amazing partnership. After a few drinks and also meeting Mr. Daniel Tarnogrodzki, who is in charge of Security, surveillance and the slots department for MAGNUM, we went on a short tour of some of the competition Casinos. Paramaribo has fourteen Casinos and most of them are in walking distance from each other and it was immediately apparent that it was not going to be a walk in the park to boost business as the two Casinos that MAGNUM owned where at either end of town and to get to The Golden Truly Casino, the flagship, you had to either drive or get the bus. In the following two weeks I had spent most of my time in the Casinos of MAGNUM, the other being The Golden Tulip Casino, and meeting the rest of Jeffery’s management team, Pang (company accountant) who was the best accountant I have ever had the pleasure of working with, Kathleen (Human Resources Director) Daniel as mentioned earlier and of course Brian General Manager of the Hotel and catering.

I will take a moment to talk about Brian whom I met in Mauritius he was in charge of the Casino’s security and surveillance and is one of the best I have ever worked with, one of the reasons for this is Brian’s gaming background and his overall knowledge of the industry and although he is General Manager of the Hotel and catering his gaming knowledge is still sort after by Jeffery.

After two weeks I presented Jeffery with my initial findings and stated that I would present him with a full report with my recommendations at the end of the month, Jeffery very kindly offered me the position of General Manager of the Casinos and we mutually agreed that after the three months consultancy period was over we would discuss the offer again.

As in all Casinos after a time the basics get forgotten and that was the first task to tackle and after visiting all of the competition it was obvious we were all doing the same things in customer rewards, which where called promotions, I did not call what was being done promotions. So we had to do something different and after making a hard decision of closing the live game at the Golden Tulip Casino and making it a slots operation only, I set about making The Golden Truly Casino more of a club, rather than a come in and game Casino, I did this by stopping the customer rewards “promos” and increasing the customer service and providing the customers with a range of cordon bleu snacks which went down extremely well with the customers, I also made some changes on blackjack which increased the percentage dramatically and introduced Punto Banco which took off brilliantly, as I expected and with Pang and Brian we introduced a voucher system for French Guyanese Hotel guests for the Casino which worked like magic. The piece du resistance was when we threw the first year birthday party for the customers the theme of which was Circus Circus. This entailed turning the Casino into a circus big top and dressing the staff in circus performers’ costumes, we laid on side shows and the normal circus type food. The staff was great and many of them provided their own costumes and one member of staff made the rest, the atmosphere was just wonderful. This was an invitation only party, the promotion was a huge success and we were inundated with requests as to the next one.

As you may have suspected I did take up Jeffery’s offer and became the GM of the Casino and my time in Suriname was one of the happiest of my career so far and it was the best team I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Suriname itself, although not one of the prettiest town I have worked in, is a truly integrated society and a place that one can feel like settling down permanently. I was then made an offer by Zodiak Casinos who were then operating in Kazkhstan and it was an offer I felt I could not refuse, so after discussing this with Jeffery I reluctantly left Suriname, but that is another story.

Mike Somers