Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Jamaica Plumbing Supplies to tap the market

Published:Friday | May 26, 2017 | 5:00 AMNeville Graham
Winston Neil and his son Brenton Neil.

Specialist hardware outfit Jamaica Plumbing Supplies Limited is said to be mulling an approach to the market, likely with a public offer of shares.

The 29-year-old company recently retained the services of investment bank Mayberry Investments Limited as financial adviser.

Jamaica Plumbing's operations manager, Brenton Neil, is coy about the details, but says they are taking advice. But if the company does list, it is likely to be via the junior market and it would be the first plumbing operation to make such a move.

"We're considering all the options. We went to Mayberry for the simple reason that they have the necessary expertise in how to expand the business and let our money work in our best interest. There are quite a few options on the table before us and we will examine them, and at the end of that process, we will see where it takes us," Brenton told the Financial Gleaner.

Winston and Andrea Neil started Jamaica Plumbing Supplies in 1988. It grew from a three-man staff to a complement of 27 today. The company is now led by Winston, managing director; Andrea, administrative manager; and Brenton, who manages the business operations.

Company records show that the husband and wife team have a 60-40 split in the company.

Jamaica Plumbing offers a range of plumbing fixtures and fittings that runs the gamut from pipe washers to whirlpool tubs, and caters to individual household customers as well as contractors on small-to large-scale projects.

The company has two branches. Brenton says the original Molynes Road facility has had a companion store since November 2016.

"We recently opened a branch in Sovereign Village Plaza in the Portmore Pines area. There's still a lot of room for growth - the plaza is still new and Portmore is still a growing community," Brenton said.

"It's doing well enough to pay for itself, actually, so I wouldn't say it is pushing up our overheads. True, that those costs have gone up, but sales have increased as well, so we don't regard the move as a burden to the company," he said.

The company aims to eventually expand nationally, with Portmore as the start of that process.

"The long-term plan is to better serve Jamaica as a whole, not just Kingston or Portmore, but to reach out to everyone in Jamaica and let them fully understand how we can help when it comes to plumbing solutions," Brenton said.

"We don't want to say much, but we have quite a few innovations that we are going to introduce to the market. We have a very good relationship with some of our suppliers and we're seeking to build stronger relationships with new ones," he said.

Winston Neil, himself a plumber, launched the company three decades ago because he needed the supplies to do jobs. The company's reputation was built on its plumbing services, but it is gradually shifting away from that side of the business.

"From some years, dad has been de-emphasising the services side of the business. I can't put an actual year on it, but what he does now - because he loves it so much - is to consult, and if there are any big jobs that he can deal with then he will do them for himself under the company name," Brenton said.

Brenton says Jamaica Plumbing wants to get to a stage where they become a household name.

Part of that strategy includes personalised service for customers.

"When you come to us, even if you come with your plumber, there will be a third person to guide you along the correct path," Brenton said.

"The truth is that Jamaican companies can do better and they should deliver that to customers we don't just sell stuff but we give advice. We look at their situation and examine the possibilities and give them a solution that suits them."

Pressed again on whether the company will approach the stock market, and if so when, Brenton says he will leave it to the experts to make those determinations.

"We'd love to make a move right now but we are leaving it up to our advisers because timing is everything and we will be guided by what Mayberry says," he said.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com