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On Island Profile: David Ogiste

May 29, 2005 – His father's discipline kept him out of trouble as a young boy, and now, more than 30 years later, that same discipline drives David Ogiste today.
"My father was basically a disciplinarian," Ogiste said as he reminisced on his dad Antoine. "Whenever dad spoke, you had to listen. He wasn't one who spoke twice. If he said it once, that was enough."
Ogiste added, "I didn't dare get into trouble."
At the age of six, Ogiste left his home in Grandbay, Dominica, and moved to St. Thomas where he was raised by his dad and aunt Lucille, whom he fondly calls "Mother."
"Dad was a businessman, a hustler," Ogiste said. "He was always involved in a variety of businesses."
Ogiste said his dad was a hard worker. He would often leave the house early in the morning for work and often return late at night. Aunt Lucille made sure he was fed, cleaned and clothed.
From his experiences with his dad, Ogiste learned the values of discipline, determination and striving for your goals. These are lessons that permeate his life, from his early school days at the Joseph Gomez Elementary, Tutu School, and then to the Ivanna Eudora Kean School, which he attended both junior and senior high school. Looking back, he acknowledged that his dad also "rubbed off" on him in other ways.
After graduating from Kean in 1984, Ogiste enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served as a missile system repairman from 1985 to 1987.
"It was quite an experience," Ogiste said of this time. "It was a time of wonderment and curiosity. It added some more discipline to my life."
Ogiste was stationed in Huntsville, Ala., and also spent time in Germany.
"I wanted to go to school in Germany, but I really couldn't get what I wanted," Ogiste said. He wanted to get a degree in architecture and drafting.
Determined to get the training he wanted, Ogiste went to Florida after completing his time in Germany, and studied architecture and drafting at the New England Institute of Technology. After earning an associate's degree from the institute in 1989, Ogiste embarked on his career, but he was led to a path far different from what he intended.
"I tried to look for a job in that field," Ogiste said. "At that time it was so competitive."
He remembers going on one interview and seeing a long line of people waiting to be interviewed for the same job.
"I had that one interview, and I failed it because I was so nervous," Ogiste said. "I don't think I ever went back for another interview."
Ogiste said as he thought about what he would do with his life he came across an ad in a newspaper saying, "Make up to $800 a week."
"At that time I felt that was good money," Ogiste said.
A Florida-based company, America's Best Cleaning Service, placed the ad.
"I needed to get a job, and I saw that opportunity, so I grabbed it," Ogiste said.
Ogiste said while working for the cleaning company, he started thinking about getting into business.
"That job kind of triggered me off to starting my own business," Ogiste said.
Ogiste consulted with two other friends of his, and they started their own cleaning company, 3 Kings Cleaning Service, in Florida.
"We were three, positive black men striving to support ourselves at the time," Ogiste said. "We determined that we were men of royalty, and called ourselves 3 Kings."
However, a few years later, he received a call from his dad that brought some change to his life. Antoine told his son that he had just bought a restaurant, and he would like Ogiste to come back and help him run it.
Ogiste, who had just broken off a relationship with his girlfriend agreed, and he and his two friends parted, bringing a close to their janitorial services business. He moved back to St. Thomas and worked with his dad at the then Ogiste Bar & Restaurant in Nadir, which was adjoined to the cockfight pit.
"I didn't care too much for that environment," Ogiste said, so he went and applied for a janitorial services business license.
In 1992, Ogiste revived his 3 Kings business on St. Thomas. Although his two other "kings" are no longer with him, he kept the name and the motto, providing a service that's "fit for a king."
Ogiste has found his niche at some of the high-end hotels on the island, providing a service for hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton, Marriott's Frenchman's Reef and the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort.
"I've done work for every hotel on the island, with a couple of exceptions," Ogiste said.
His company also provides a service for private individuals and corporate businesses.
"The hotels have been my primary clients, so there's lots of room for growth," Ogiste said.
But Ogiste has managed to flourish in a business where few are respected. He demands that his workers do their jobs with pride, and do it well. Their uniforms attest to the care and precision their work must entail. The baby blue button down shirts and the white t-shirts with the emblazoned "3 Kings" logo worn by his employees, must be tucked in neatly into their khaki trousers as they go about their duties.
Ogiste admits running one's own company is not an easy task, but it's one he has endured over the years by relying on God and through self-motivation. Ogiste said he wants to know that he can always comfortably support himself, and that has motivated him to keep striving towards his goal.
"A man should be able to support himself," Ogiste said. "One way to control your financial destiny is by owning your own business."
He said his faith in God has helped him to keep focused.
"I put God first in my business," Ogiste said.
Besides the hectic nature of his business, Ogiste still finds time to get involved in church activities.
"Being rooted in church, brings another level of discipline in my life," Ogiste said.
As he sat back in his sofa of his St. Joseph and Rosendahl apartment, Ogiste smiled and said his dad, who died in 1999, has rubbed off on him in more ways than one.
"Dad's discipline helped me to be respectful, and kept me out of harm's way," Ogiste said. "I see some of his same values within me."
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