Success Stories

Leo Cousins and Vincent Hill are engineers by profession who have mined success in the Jamaican hills. They are the owners of Lydford Mining, a multi-million dollar operation located in St. Ann, the birth parish of Reggae legend Bob Marley.

The mining and processing operation is an investor’s dream with full order books for limestone products, zero debt and extensive reserves of high grade limestone. Their tale of success is one of vision and perseverance.

Established in 1991 as a limited liability company, Lydford Mining weathered the early storm when local bauxite companies declined to pick up their merchandise. The resilient team eventually managed to land the US-based J.M. Huber Corporation, with its subsidiary Huber Engineered Materials, as their first customer. With that initial single order of whiting grade limestone, the company charted upward in an aggressive growth spurt that continues today.

Lydford Mining currently exports 120,000 tonnes of high purity limestone, 100,000 tonnes of industrial grade and 2,000 tonnes of ground material each year.  In addition to J.M. Huber, the company’s client list also includes the US-based Mississippi Lime Company and Chilean company Electroandina.

Lydford Mining also sells its limestone to local manufacturers who use it in processing fertilizers, animal feed, fillers for plastics and paints and many other industrial products. Before the company commenced operations, all these products were imported at twice the cost in most cases.

The company’s staff complement has grown from six in 1991 to 60 in 2014, and the rental of 25 trucks and six pieces of mining equipment has created additional employment for at least 30 workers.

Through the years, the resourceful team of Cousins and Hill has invested significantly in state-of-the-art technology – a move that has kept productivity at optimal levels. They are currently in the process of expanding their high-tech lab, which is used to analyse and test processed material.

With their sights set on a larger share of the world market, where there is demand for food and medical/pharmaceutical grade limestone, Cousins and Hill are currently working on securing a US$4 million investment to bring this goal to fruition. According to Cousins, the future plans to increase output of the higher profit-yielding, value-added limestone products are predicated on the quality of Jamaican limestone and the enabling business climate.

“After all, without quality, we wouldn’t exist…With its numerous viable investment possibilities, economic and political stability, Jamaica is both a reliable and dynamic quality brand,” says Cousins.

The brainchild of twin brothers Marlon and Marvin Stuart, Local Spice debuted its Complete Seasoning in the local and overseas market in 2010 and immediately made a strong impact. In its first seven months of operation, the company's production level grew from 5,000 pouches per week to 80,000 in order to satisfy growing demand.

The popularity of Local Spice's Complete Seasoning was buoyed by rave reviews on network television from Phil Lempert, one of America’s leading consumer trend-watchers and analysts. The product, which received an impressive rating of 95 out of 100, was featured on Lempert’s food review segment on “ABC News Now”. It was also highlighted during his popular weekly programme “New Product Hits and Misses” on SupermarketGuru.com, a leading food and health resource website that boasts over nine million visitors a year. Complete Seasoning received top marks for taste, value, health, ingredients, preparation, appearance and packaging.

Local Spice has benefited from invaluable assistance in export development from JAMPRO and has been represented at local and international trade events as part of the agency’s promotional activities. Local Spice’s Complete Seasoning has been featured at the Fancy Food event in New York, Expo Jamaica, and a major in-store promotion in the US with prominent supermarket chain Fiesta Mart.

“JAMPRO held our hand through the export process and guided us to the relevant agencies. Any contact that we had with government, JAMPRO was there and the staff went beyond the call of duty in providing useful insights and direction. They have a wealth of knowledge and we wouldn’t be where are today without the help of the agency,” Marlon Stuart stated.

Marlene Porter, JAMPRO’s Export Development Manager, noted that the Agency had recognised from the beginning that Local Spice's Complete Seasoning was a great product with tremendous potential.

“JAMPRO is pleased with the success that Local Spice has been able to reap through the support services, promotions and market penetration initiatives facilitated by the Agency,” she stated.

Gregory Khan, Managing Director of Uniform Centre – a leading provider of uniform solutions to various sectors, has indicated that his company is currently pursuing four firm business prospects emanating from its recent participation in JAMPRO’s Opportunities Jamaica 2013 business linkages event.

Mr. Khan also disclosed that in addition to the promising prospects, 20 buyers registered strong interest in doing business with his company at the two-day event, which was held on September 30 and October 1 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. He had high commendations for the JAMPRO team led by President Diane Edwards, and described Opportunities Jamaica 2013 as a first class event that succeeded in bringing together local suppliers of goods and services with buyers from Jamaica and across the Caribbean.

Mr. Khan noted that the event provided the ideal platform to network with potential customers and showcase the quality of the products made by Uniform Centre. He added that the direct interaction facilitated by the event allowed him to impress the company’s core value of integrity on potential buyers, which significantly enhanced the process of forging deeper business partnerships.

Uniform Centre has established a strong reputation as a manufacturer of custom uniforms for local and regional companies in the hospitality, education, health and industrial sectors. In addition to manufacturing custom uniforms, the company also provides consultation on design and facilitates silkscreen printing and embroidery.

The company has successfully participated in previous JAMPRO’s Business Linkages Programme, and most notably secured a major contract in 2011 from Mystic Mountain Jamaica Tours valued at close to J$1 million. According to Mr. Khan, the company is looking forward to strengthening its partnership with JAMPRO in the future.

 

“JAMPRO has looked after us very well and it is always a pleasure to work with the agency,” he stated.

JAMPRO launched the pilot of the Export Max programme in 2011 to assist small to medium sized enterprises with growing their export sales. The recently launched ExportMax II promises to do the same, with the addition of a corporate mentorship programme and an added focus on capacity building.

For more information on Export Max I & II and other export programmes, click here .

 

This moment created what is now the only company making candy in exclusively Caribbean flavours, Sweetie Confectionery. Aarons, the company’s CEO, left her full time career in marketingto pursue a dream of owning her own business, and manufacturing candy that Jamaicans bothhome and away could enjoy.

 The early days were challenging; Patria-Kaye had to start small and starting small means becoming skilled in many areas quickly. “I did everything!” she said, “Chased orders, supervisedproduction, delivery…, everything. It was exhausting but well worth the effort and helped meappreciate every role.”

Managing the workload was only half of the challenge. Patria-Kaye had to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur, “It’s a BIG jump from being a kick butt marketer to being a kickbutt CEO, especially in a field that’s new to me. Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship and the Scotiabank Vision Achievers Programme really helped make me make that transition.”

There were also difficulties related to the development of the formulae for the candy. She worked with the Scientific Research Council to create the flavour profiles for her products, “The Scientific Research Council is a little known gem. The team there helped with the development of my formulations so that now I can offer the world a jackfruit sweetie with all the yummy taste and none of the smell.”

With drive, determination and a keen eye for opportunities, Sweetie started to expand its reach across Jamaica. In its first year of business, the company quickly grew to distributing their products to 150 locations. Then came exporting, “JAMPRO gave me my first exporting break,” explained Patria-Kaye, “Because of their Business to Business matchmaking session at the Diaspora Conference in 2015, I met Noel Dempster, my distributor in London.

I pitched to him in Montego Bay, Now, the company is exporting to the USA, UK and US Virgin Islands and has launched three products.

 Aarons said she is sometimes overwhelmed with the success of the company, “I can’t send brittle to the UK fast enough, and Paradise Plum flies off the shelves everywhere.  The business is growing faster than my pocket can keep up with.”

She attributes the company’s success to the large market interested in Sweetie’s products. 

With the Diaspora, Jamaicans at home and persons living in other Caribbean islands, there are millions of persons who appreciate the taste of tropical fruit candy, and are attracted to the nostalgic feeling when consuming traditional products like the “Paradise Plum”. Patria describes Sweetie as driven by the possibility of bringing a little piece of paradise to an under-served Caribbean people.

For the future, Aarons aims to have a 10% share of the Caribbean confectionery market over the next five years. In addition, she intends to launch a new product format, new flavours and export to two new markets every year for the next five years.

With all of this success, it is not surprising that the CEO has only positive things to say about starting a business in Jamaica, and recommends that other Jamaicans follow suit. She shared her perspective on doing business in Jamaica, saying,

 “Jamaica has many untapped opportunities. I encourage everyone to critically look at everything they interact with. Ask the question, “Where was this made?” And if the answer isn’t Jamaica ask “Why not?” and “How can I make it here?”

With her resolve to excel, Aarons looks forward to the future of Sweetie with positive ambitions, and sees many possibilities on the horizon.

 

Since entering the Jamaican market in 2001, Digicel has become the fastest growing wireless telecoms operator in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. Over the past 11 years, the company has invested over US$1 billion in the country and has expanded its international customer base to 13 million across its 31 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific.

 

Digicel’s markets comprise Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, El Salvador, Fiji, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Nauru, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, St Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos and Vanuatu. Digicel also has coverage in St. Martin and St. Barts in the Caribbean.


The company officially opened its US$60-million regional headquarters in downtown Kingston in March 2013. In his remarks at the official opening, Denis O’Brien, Chairman and founder of Digicel Group, stated: “I must thank our loyal and valued customers and of course our fantastic staff. The Digicel success story is built on the efforts and hard graft of our talented and committed people – and our global expansion has been fuelled by the ongoing efforts of our amazing team right here in Jamaica.”


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