Sun | Feb 18, 2018

JNSBL assists client after fire

Published:Friday | December 22, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Ruth-Ann Smith shows the machine, crates and other equipment that were replaced with the assistance of JN Small Business Loans.

Saturdays are supposed to be normal business days for Ruth-Ann Smith. But, all that changed earlier this year when she received a called from neighbours that her bag juice factory on Parry Road, Kencot in St Andrew was engulfed in flames.

An electrical shortage at a neighbouring property had resulted in the fire which damaged a section of the building in which her juice manufacturing business was located.

"I was at home when friends from a neighboring property called me to say my business was on fire. I rushed to the location and found my production area up in smoke. I lost two juice-making machines and other equipment," Smith recalled.

She was devastated. "I started to worry about how I would survive. I called my credit relations officer at JN Small Business Loans (JNSBL) and, she told me not to worry because they would work something out and everything would be all right," she said.

At the end of that conversation she felt encouraged, especially when her credit relations officer, Yvonne Swaby, visited shortly after and reassured her in person.

In the aftermath of the disaster, Smith had to deal with how she would keep her operations going without downsizing.

"I did not want to send anyone home, but I wondered how I would survive and keep my business open. Therefore, I came up with a plan which, no matter how difficult, would not place me and my staff at a disadvantage, and would keep my customers," she stated.

"From the date, which was early up in the year, until after May, I purchased bag juice from other manufacturers, and this allowed me to continue to serve my customers and provide employment to my staff, who supported the purchase and delivery of juices. My profit was less, but it was more important to stay in business. I also moved the operations to a small section of the building that was not damaged," Smith said.

Staying afloat with creativity

Smith's credit relations officer from JNSBL, who visited the factory immediately after the fire, took photos and reassured her that JNSBL would assist. That assistance came as Smith was able to purchase new machines and renovate her factory space.

"I am grateful to JNSBL, because they were with me through it all as I made repairs and restructured. I am now in full operation, with two new juice-making machines and a totally renovated production space. The loan company was really at my side to help me overcome this challenge," she said.

Shaw Nicholson, communications and client services manager, JNSBL, who also visited Smith, indicated that the mother of two displayed the determination necessary to be successful.

"During the period of her greatest challenge yet, Smith displayed resilience by coming up with creative solutions to keep her operations afloat," Nicholson related.

Many persons would have given up, however, Smith found a way to survive. "At JNSBL we maintain close relationships with our clients; we value them, and are committed to help them grow as well as overcome obstacles. She has displayed commendable resilience and determination, a true entrepreneur who we welcome the opportunity to continue to support to achieve her aspirations," Nicholson said.

Currently, Smith has returned to full manufacturing capacity of between 500 and 1,000 bag juices per day and, despite her setback, she plans to add other products to her 'I Quench' product line.

"I plan to do box juices and cooking oil; and while I wanted to start this year, the fire caused a delay. However, I am determined to start producing those products early next year," she said.