It all started under a mango tree. When an existing business venture making refrigerators fell through because of the unavailability of imported component parts, cousins Metry Seaga and Steve Sirgany began making 'Solidarity' vending carts under the mango tree at the office of Seaga's mother.
These multifunctional carts designed for vendors to store, transport and sell hot and cold products were constructed from fibreglass.
And just like that, a new company was born: Jamaica Fibreglass Products (JFP) Limited.
Twenty-five years later, Jamaica Fibreglass no longer makes Solidarity carts, and since only 5-10 per cent of their products are made of fibreglass, the company is rebranding itself as JFP.
So what is JFP making? Seaga sums it up in this statement: "People ask us: 'What do you make', and we respond: 'What would you like'."
One only need to look at the range of materials now used, the variety of products now made, the size of the company's operations, the variety of products and clients, and JFP's geographic reach to see the tremendous growth that this company has achieved.
JFP started out with one fibreglass product, then made "anything in fibreglass," Seaga recalls.
Office furniture was followed by restaurant decor and thereafter, the team began working with other materials. Whether generic or highly customised, JFP now produces complete interior decor packages for commercial entities in six materials: fibreglass, wood-work, metalwork, upholstery, solid surface and acrylic.
Tables, chairs, counters, planters, divider walls, bars, and complete hotel room suites are just a few examples of the items that the company makes.
In the beginning, only street-side vendors had the Solidarity carts.
Today, with such an extensive range of products, JFP services a range of commercial clients such as telecommunications com-panies, restaurants, real estate developers, manufacturers, retailers, and hoteliers.
And this is not just in Jamaica. JFP exports heavily within the Caribbean and Central America. It is one of the few local manufacturers approved to supply Yum Brands! subsidiary food chains KFC and Pizza Hut in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Is JFP making all these products under a mango tree? Of course not! It is a full-fledged highly automated contract furniture manufacturing company with 65,000 square foot of factory space on Spanish Town Road with 100 members of staff.
Constantly humming with activity for simultaneous projects, the factory floor is well organised so work flows smoothly from start to finish.
Since JFP specialises in providing customised solutions, the facility houses showrooms with a number of the innovative and unique products that JFP has developed for clients.
One showroom is even a fully appointed hotel room suite with bed, bedside tables, dresser, loveseat and customised mirror with woodwork that matches the upholstery fabric.
There is also a dedicated design room with a range of fabric samples for inspiration, and a computer room with the technology and software that makes the machines produce the customised requests.
Seaga and Sirgany attribute the growth of JFP to listening to customers, and a willingness to learn and take calculated risks. Listening and learning led to JFP's expertise in creating a whole range of fibreglass products.
Listening and learning facilitated the addition of other materials to enhance the fibreglass products, until now the six material types can stand alone or be used all together. Deliberate steps were taken to gradually build the capacity for growth.
Sirgany's brother Ricky joined the team and provided much needed help at a critical juncture in the company's development. To this date, a full time consultant from Tennessee remains contracted to provide expertise that may not be available locally.
With that approach to growth, JFP naturally believes there are always opportunities to be found. Always hiring, but training for skill, JFP continues to build a dynamic organisation to serve client's needs. Part of its mission statement reads: "To make our country proud, by being a leading exporter of fine workmanship and design to all corners of the world."
And it all started under a mango tree.
Deika Morrison is managing director of Mdk Advisory & Consulting Limited.
Employment: 100 people
Products: A range of customisable furniture and interior decor solutions.
Materials: Fibreglass, woodwork, metalwork, upholstery, solid surface and acrylic.
Exports markets: Antigua, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, St Lucia, Trinidad, USA, US Virgin Islands, The Cayman Islands.
Sample client listing: TGI Friday's , KFC, HSagen Dazs, WIHCON, LIME, Claro, Digicel, Red Stripe, Spanish Court Hotel.