Garth Sylvester opened his own supply store, GCS Building Supplies, three years ago after working with a company for 26 years. He decided to take the initiative and use his experience with tools, plumbing and building supplies to serve the community which taught him the same. With two locations, one in the Upper West Side and one in the Bronx, Sylvester is happy with the success of his business.
Immigrating from Trinidad to New York at age 10, Sylvester said he enjoyed working with tools and creating pieces from wood since childhood. His love for creating things is something he had since he was young, but it wasn’t until he got to high school that he started taking his skill for wood-working seriously. His mother wanted him to find a job to keep him occupied and in a positive position.
“My mother found a job for me at a local tool store. From there is when my love for hardware and helping people took off,” said Sylvester.
Growing up, Sylvester wasn’t involved in sports or extracurricular activities; he knew helping people and fixing broken items was his passion. In high school, Sylvester traveled nearly two and a half hours from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn to the Upper West Side to the local store he worked at. There he learned the foundational skills of how to deal with people, identify tools and familiarize himself with hardware products. He still feels working at the local store was a key factor in his development.
“Taking that two hour train ride was long,” he said. “Sometimes you get off the train and you’re tired, you don’t feel like doing anything. But it wasn’t about me. It was about helping the customers and seeing the joy on the face when I helped them. That’s what drove me.”
Sylvester’s love for hardware appliances is what continues to drive him today. His drive for helping others and serving the community are what help him continuously come to work everyday with a positive attitude.
“It’s not easy doing this. Sometimes you go to sleep at 11 p.m. and wake up at 2 a.m. That’s how it is sometimes. But I find joy in all of this,” he said. “It’s not all about the money sometimes, it’s about service to customers and helping them meet their needs. That’s what makes me happy at the end.”
Sylvester added that he not only wants people to know his business but also be inspired by it.
“Passion is what got me here—I love helping others,” he said. “And I’ll continue to do so.”