A man of vision and sound principles, Glasford L.A. Francis, affectionately, called “Joe Kennedy” was born in the village of Liberta on 24th May, 1939. He attended the Liberta Primary School. He is a man of humble beginnings, quiet, kind-hearted and polite; and with no formal education, he was well on his way to becoming a household name, as a businessman in Antigua, before he was 25. He is the founder of the indigenous family-owned business – the Kennedy’s Group of companies, which has been providing gainful employment, quality products, and services to Antiguans and Barbudans for the past 55 years.
1940’s – 1950’s
Glasford grew up in poverty and had to sacrifice his education to take care of his mother (a single parent) and his four younger brothers. As a teenager, while he was burdened with adult responsibilities; he never complained. He could remember the times when he assisted his mother with her hat-weaving trade. He gathered the date palms and marketed the finished product, practically island wide, on foot in order to support the family. He also operated a barber shop (under their Genip tree) in his efforts to help his mother financially. Glasford exhibited exceptional qualities including admirable strength of character. His experiences lead him to be identified as a leader among his peers within the village of Liberta during the era of JF Kennedy’s presidency in the U.S.A. after whom he was nicknamed.
1950’s – 1960’s
His first official job was at Johnson’s Construction Company in the early 1960’s, earning one (1) dollar per day. However, the aptitude that he exhibited caused him to be selected for the crew to work on the Mill Reef Project, which had begun around that time. Within three months, his outstanding performance as a mason, so impressed the boss that he was given an increased pay to $2.65 per day. Within a year he was earning $3.00 per day and soon afterwards $5.00. It was from these meager earnings that Glasford started upon his business ventures.
1962 marks a very important year. Due to his discipline and attention to details, he was favoured among the Mill Reef’s owners, which was a blessing, as they gave Glasford all of the building materials free of charge. His friends came together to erect the structure (a bar and dance club). At age 23, this first bar was opened in 1962, named “Kennedy’s Bar.” Being a very family-oriented individual, he involved his mother, his soulmate Pauline and his brothers in the business. At this stage, he approached Mendes Company and negotiated the purchase of a truck, and eventually the heavy-duty trucking and bus service got started.
April 1969 saw the needs for the expansion of the tavern’s branch in the heart of St. John’s, called Kennedy’s Bar & Arcade. For almost two decades, he owned, distributed, and controlled all billiard tables (pool tables) island wide.
Mid 1980’s he opened an upscale retail outlet, Kennedy’s Liquor World, also in St. John’s – the capital.
In 1995, he decided with his family that it was time to give the Antiguan public the opportunity to purchase quality brands at the best wholesale price, and thus Kennedy’s Club Ltd, the wholesale distribution company, opened its doors for business.
2001 – present
His unique sense of business strategy and vision has enabled development and growth over the years that followed 1962 up to present. The wholesale company re-located to Cassada Gardens, where further growth and expansion continue. From this simple and unassuming man’s concept of a little tavern in Liberta, the business now encompasses a conglomerate which employs over one hundred persons with a family environment:
– Kennedy’s Club Ltd. (Wholesale & Distribution Beverage, Ice Cream, & Confectionary Co.)
– Kennedy’s Classic (Bar & Restaurant)
– Kennedy’s Liquor World (Self-Service Retail Beverage Co.)
– Ken’s Club (an exclusive wholesale membership club)
– MoneyGram International (money transfer services)
– Island B-Hive (Sports Bar & Restaurant) (Sir Vivian Richards Stadium Party Stand & Heritage Quay)
– Kreative Fitness Park (Sir Vivian Richards Stadium Island B-Hive Party Stand
– Global Explorers – Johnnie Walker Bar (VC Bird International Airport)
As a good corporate citizen, Glasford, encourages benevolence within the group, and he gives back to the community via several avenues. He supports the church. He knows that all praise and glory belong to God Almighty, and that without Him he could not have achieved what he has today.
Glasford is the same man today that he was many years ago in Liberta… humble! Now that he has retired, he takes pride and joy in his garden where he is extremely creative. His topiary talent is displayed in the creation of Sir Vivian Richards as one of the plants in his garden.
This passionate family-man and his late, loving wife, Pauline, have raised nine (9) biological, and thirty-four (34) foster children; and have instilled in them a right set of values, which have resulted in all playing a meaningful role within the group. He has twenty-two (22) grand-children and four (4) great-grandchildren whom he enjoys transporting to and from school and extracurricular activities. He imprints on the hearts of his children and grand-children, the importance of family, efficient work ethics and never giving up. Hence, he can be assured that future generations will carry on his legacy. •