The D’Aguiar Family was in business in Guyana for over 150 years. In the 1840’s Mr. Jose Gomes D’Aguiar, the founder, started a Rum Business which developed into a chain of Retail Spirit Shops. In 1885 the business was expanded to include a Cocoa and Chocolate Factory and a Schooner Shipping Agency.
Mr. Peter Stanislaus D’Aguiar felt, however, that the date of historic importance was in 1896 when the four sons, Jose Jnr, Manoel, Francisco and John formed the partnership of D’Aguiar Bros. after the death of Mr. J.G. D’Aguiar in 1893. In the same year the brothers purchased the Demerara Ice House which then consisted of a hotel, liquor bars and an aerated soft drink plant. The name ‘Ice House’ was derived from the fact that ice was imported in schooners from Canada, hence the initials D.I.H.
Papers concerning D’Aguiar Bros. dating back to the beginning of the century showed that the actual purchase of the old Demerara Ice House was made in October 1896 with its possession being effective from November 16 of that year. The purchase was arranged through the Hon. J.H. de Jonge, auctioneer. The price, $50,000.00, a substantial sum in those days was for buildings only. Eventually, a twenty-one year lease was negotiated from the Crown in whose title all lands were vested in those days. It was not until 1929 that the land was bought outright from the Government. In that year Dr. J.G. D’Aguiar (Mr. Peter d’Aguiar’s father) then the sole proprietor following the death of his brothers, formed the company of D’Aguiar Bros. Limited.
Mrs. P.M. D’Aguiar became the principal shareholder on the death of her husband, Dr. J.G. D’Aguiar. The business faltered and was at a point of bankruptcy. She was offered the paltry sum of $100,000.00 for the business as a going concern, but she refused to sell, as she was convinced that her youngest son, Peter D’Aguiar, should be given the opportunity as he appeared to have the business acumen to salvage the company and to build it into a thriving concern.
In 1934 at the age of twenty-two, Peter took over as Managing Director of D’Aguiar Bros. Ltd.
Peter concentrated on the manufacturing side, especially soft drinks and rum. He borrowed heavily to re-finance the business. Gradually old debts were paid off and the business began to flourish again.
In 1942 Peter acquired the franchise for Pepsi-Cola making British Guiana (as it was named) the first country in South America to bottle this beverage. The popular range of I-Cee flavours was introduced in 1952. The production of XM Rum was expanded and became the No.1 Rum in 1959.
Long before Peter took over, the Cocoa and Chocolate business and the Shipping Agency had been relinquished. The range of interests was still fairly wide and included a soft drink factory, rum bond, bottling plant, liquor store, retail bars, hotel and pawnbrokery most of which had been operated and located at D’Aguiar Bros. Ltd. in Brickdam, Stabroek since 1896.
In 1955, Peter D’Aguiar promoted Banks Breweries Limited, the first public company with a widespread ownership. In 1966 the Private Family Company (D’Aguiar Bros. Ltd.) was converted into a public company, D’Aguiar Bros. (D.I.H.) Limited with a share capital of $1.0 M (one million dollars).
1969 saw the merger of D’Aguiar Bros. (DIH) Ltd. with Banks Breweries Ltd. into a new company called Banks DIH Limited with a Share Capital of G$4,140,000.00.
The Company’s headquarters was moved to Thirst Park where the production complex and the head office, known as the Rotunda, were built in 1969.
The cost of the modern complex on 13.2 acres of land designed by a young Polish Architect, Marian Dorr-Dorynek at that time, was valued $7,000,000.00.
Since then the number of shareholders has increased from 5,000 to over 14,000 and employees from 300 to over 500 of the company’s regular employees becoming shareholders.
On Thursday, 30th March, 1989 at 5.00 a.m., London time, Peter S. D’Aguiar, age 76, died at the London Hospital, England where he had travelled to obtain medical attention.
During his tenure of service (1934 – 1989) the company showed a record of rapid development and continued progress and has emerged as one of the most dynamic, efficient and profitable businesses in the Caribbean.
Banks DIH Limited is now a multi-billion dollar company and is headed by Mr. Clifford Barrington Reis, CCH, who was appointed Chairman/Managing Director after the death of Mr. Peter S. D’Aguiar thereby heralding the dawn of a new era in the company’s history.
Undaunted by the magnitude of the added responsibilities, the new Chairman immediately got down to the job of keeping Banks DIH Limited on its chartered course of continued development. Mr. Clifford Reis’ management style could be described as ‘hands-on’ and manages through consultation, help and advice from the Directors, Executive Board Members and the Worker Management Participation Board (W.M.P.B.). He believes that business must be undertaken with a sense of urgency and getting quality results is of the utmost importance.