Gleaner Honour Award: Lasco Affiliated Companies - iCool quenches the market
Gleaner Honour Award nominee for Business:
The breakout success of iCool took even the manufacturers by surprise. In fact, when Lasco's new line of beverages hit the Jamaican market in early 2015, with its refreshing assortment of flavoured drinks and water, no one expected that in less than a year its sales would far surpass other brands that had been dominating the market for generations.
"The impact of iCool was amazing. We researched that product for three years to make sure we had the best-tasting product, nutritious in content, at the best quality and the best price. I could not believe the success we have had with it," declared Lascelles Chin, founder and executive chairman of the Lasco Affiliated Companies.
"It has turned out to be one of the best-tasting products on the market. You would not believe that a small, local company did that to major international companies."
He continued: "Our problem is, it turned out to be a big challenge because I got the cursing of my life that I cannot meet the demand. We keep expanding the production, but no matter how much more we provide, we still cannot produce enough. And we still have more products to come in the iCool line, which are going to be amazing. Lasco fruit drink was a success story, but the iCool beat that out."
Chin proudly stated that "because of the high quality and low price of the iCool brand, which offers both flavoured drinks and water, competitors were forced to reduce the prices of their products".
Headquartered on Red Hills Road, St Andrew, for just under three decades Lasco has been revolutionising business in Jamaica through its three companies - Lasco Distributors Ltd (founded in 1988), Lasco Manufacturing Ltd (1994) and Lasco Financial Services (2004).
All three companies were listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) on October 12, 2010, represented as LASD, LASM, LASF, and were largely successful.
"And come last year, again we did very well. In 2015, Lasco's stocks increased by more than 200 per cent," said Chin.
With a combined value of J$37 billion for the three companies in the group, last year Lasco became the fifth-largest company with market capitalisation on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, "and for 2016, we are going to work hard to make sure we become even higher. We are working to double our sales and our profits".
With plans to unveil at least three huge projects in 2016, already Lasco is positioning itself for a breakout year.
One of those is expected to be another groundbreaking product - Lasco Ice Dream - a line of frozen dessert mixes. The ice cream powdered package will allow persons to make their own creamy, high-quality ice cream at an affordable price, simply by following a few quick and easy steps.
Ever since inception, Lasco has been heralded for its strong belief in delivering high-quality products at the lowest price possible. Even more amazingly, the founder said, "I am working very hard to reduce prices again for this year because so many persons cannot afford the cost of living, especially with the devaluation and salaries not increasing. Believe me, the more efficient we get, is the more I am going to reduce prices."
He added, "And I won't boast, Lasco doesn't offer the same quality as the other brands, we offer a better quality. In fact, we use the very same suppliers as some of the higher-priced brands.
"People ask me if I am stupid, why am I selling these quality goods so cheap, but I want to leave as much as possible on the table for the consumer because many of them cannot afford it. My biggest joy is when I can offer a high-quality product at half the price. I am the happiest person when I can do this for consumers. That's why Lasco does so well, we give value for money."
Currently employing approximately 850 full-time persons and countless others on contract, Lasco prides itself on being a company with a passion and dedication for the poor and disenfranchised.
"We have a mission to provide only the best quality goods at the most affordable prices. When I travel across Jamaica, a lot of persons tell me that if it were not for Lasco they could not survive or feed their families, or they share a story of how I helped them. I love to help people. It doesn't matter who you are, as long as you want that help, I will help. I admire honest, ambitious persons who want to achieve," Chin said.
"I am very happy when poor people can become happy and successful. Jamaica cannot be successful unless more Jamaicans are successful. We also pride ourselves on taking care of our employees."
A businessman for over 50 years, Chin said despite all the achievements, he still regards himself as just starting, "as there are so much more I want to do. I think the whole business is going to explode because Lasco is going to continue to grow at a tremendous rate and be more efficient. I find the future amazing and fantastic because I am going to make it amazing and fantastic. I love Jamaica and I want to give back to the people as much a possible, while doing all that is within my power to help to make this country a success. I really do hope a lot more Jamaicans will benefit from what I do, because my mantra is to help to make more Jamaicans as successful as possible."
2015 OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENTS
Chin said 2015 has been quite an impressive year for the Lasco Affiliated Companies. The group's outstanding achievements include:
• iCool wins New Breakthrough Product at JMA Awards.
• iCool partners with Miss Universe Awards.
• iCool releases two new flavours, while quickly captivating the beverage market.
• New managing director triples liquid plant production of Lasco beverages.
• Group boasts impressive performance in the junior stock market with some stock advancing over five times in the last year.
• Increases profits in 2015.
• Signs distribution deal with giant product manufacturer Unilever, increasing its product distribution base to more than 3,000.
• Signs distribution deal with Huawei.
• Lascelles Chin awarded the Honourary Degree of Laws (Hon LLD) from UTech.
• Lascelles Chin received the Medal of Distinction from FICAC.
• Wins legal battles against pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
• Breaks ground and opens new cambio while other brands close their doors.
• Lasco MoneyGram partners with FHC credit union.
• Curves sanitary napkins is one of the top two in the country.