By Leah Sorias (firstname.lastname@example.org)
“TED JONES. Remember that name, because is going international, not just regional.”
So declared Tobago House of Assembly’s Marslyn Melville-Jack last week as she reported that coming out of the recently concluding Tobago roadshow at Trincity Mall and the Trade and Investment Convention (TIC) at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya, doors have opened for Tobago detergent manufacturer Edward ted Jones.
Out of a small factory at the back of his home in Orange Hill, Tobago, 49-year-old Jones manufacturers his SupporT brand of laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid and multi-purpose cleaner.
The father of two was one of over a dozen entrepreneurs from Tobago who showcased their businesses at TIC 2019, hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association from July 4 to 7.
Over 300 companies from 29 countries were featured at the event.
Two months before, from May 23 to 25, Jones joined 23 fellow small manufacturers from Tobago at Trincity Mall for the “Tobago Road Show”.
Speaking at the THA’s post-executive council media briefing in Scarborough last week Wednesday, Melville-Jack, who is the Secretary of Community Development Enterprise Development and Labour at the THA hailed all Tobago entrepreneurs who participated in both events. “So successful was that enterprise (roadshow) that over that three-day period they accumulated sales excess of $125,000” she revealed.
The roadshow came on the heels of a very negative comment about Tobagonians, where we were described as lazy and unproductive. It could have been two weeks after we were at Trincity Mall with the roadshow. It was as if we were saying in your face! Because what we produced on those days was so excellent that many Trinidadians had no idea that all this activity was taking place in Tobago,” Melville-Jack said, adding that “Tobago is definitely open for business.”
Jones a hit at Roadshow and TIC
Melville-Jack highlighted that Jones was a tremendous success at the roadshow.
“After two days he was sold out and had to seek to get additional supplies from Tobago to satisfy customers. He was also able to sign a deal with Xtra Foods Supermarket for distribution of his products in four outlets in Trinidad. He also received an order from the Marriott Hotel, who would now be using his multi-purpose cleaner in their hotels,” she went on.
Speaking to Express Business via telephone last Friday, Jones explained that he stayed at the Marriott during the Roadshow and used the opportunity to share details about his products with kitchen staff.
“And they fell in love with the dishwashing liquid and the multi-purpose cleaner,” he said.
Following TIC 2019, Jones was able to snag several other deals.
“He is now in the market for an additional supermarket, Super Quality (a T&T supermarket) is now interested in carrying his entire product line. A Jamaican firm wants him to mass-produce their company. Label House Trinidad Limited is interested in redesigning his logo so that it has more appeal for the regional and international markets. Two importers from Barbados are interested in having him produce one container load per month,” Melville-jack highlighted.
“What this is saying is an expansion of production, which speaks jobs as well. This is exactly what we are looking for in Tobago at this time. I can also report that two major financiers in Trinidad are interested in investing in his company. These discussions are ongoing,” she said.
Jones told Express Business that he has teamed up with a local distribution manager who is assisting him with marketing his products.
“He (distribution manager) is actually courting a long list of other supermarkets in Trinidad, like Super Quality Supermarket, Persad’ D’ Food King, Cost Cutters, Massy, Rameesh and Leela. They have all tried my products and seem to like them very much,” he said
At TIC, Jones met with two Barbados companies, one of which asked him to supply a container-load of products each month.
“They asked me what was my capacity and I told them that at present my capacity was about 12 cases per day. They wanted a container load every month and to supply a container requires 1200 cases. So I told them I can do that and they’re very excited about it,” he stated.
Interested was also shown from companies from Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica.
“There was a gentleman from the Huggins Group in Grenada who wants products. Another group called Trinity Incorporation from St Vincent and the Grenadines wants one pallet of each product, once a week. The Jamaican firm was contacted through the manager of distribution I am working with. That firm wants me to mass produce my products and they will do the labelling in Jamaica for their own supermarket. So, I will be making the products and sending them in bulk to Jamaica for them to package and label,” he stated.
With a host of orders coming his way, Jones said he will no doubt have to increase his meagre staff of three.
“I do have some expansion plans in the works and I am hoping that I can make arrangements with the right financial institution that would make it worth my while,” he stated.
“The space I currently have is not bad, I just have to get little things to get it a little more efficient. I have three employees but within the next month or so that will increase, as I now have to consider the Trinidad and regional markets.
Story by Leah Sorias of Trinidad Express (email@example.com)