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Lascelles Chin preaches perseverance at Hall of Fame induction

Published:Sunday | October 30, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Lascelles Chin and Eileen Chin at the PSOJ Hall of Fame ceremony, at the Wyndham Kingston hotel, New Kingston, on Thursday, October 27, 2011.- Colin Hamilton/Freelance Photographer
Marcella Scarlett, Business Reporter

Lascelles Chin spent two decades building a company into what is now a household name and brand in Jamaica, offering food and pharmaceuticals products.

Chin, however, waded into the unpredictable waters of Jamaican business long before that. At the start of the 1960s, he launched National Trading Company.

He pursued various other ventures over time until 1986 when he founded Lasco - now one of Jamaica's most well-known manufacturing and distribution operations. Lasco is also a provider of financial services.

Last year, Chin separated the group operation into three entities, each of which was floated on the junior stock exchange - marking a new stage in the group's evolution as a public company.

The listing expanded Lasco's ownership base and gave Chin capital to do even bigger things.

Corporate Jamaica, already well familiar with Chin's accomplishments, decided that since he had gone public, so could they. It was time to acknowledge his contribution to business more publicly.

Last Thursday night, Chin became the 19th Jamaican business titan to be inducted into the PSOJ Hall of Fame. He used the occasion to announce to investors that the big investment he is making in his manufacturing operation in St Catherine would be even bigger.

The factory upgrade at Lasco Manufacturing Limited (LML) is now going to be a US$16-million ($1.4b) project, he said, up from US$11 million ($946m).

"It is a long, interesting and rewarding journey for me to be here this evening. I would not have it any other way," said Chin, as he was inducted into the PSOJ Hall of Fame.

first business venture

Chin reflected on how, with £175, he started his first business venture, National Trading, in 1961 in a rented half-side of a house in Havendale, St Andrew, which he shared with his family. His other business exploits have spanned various sectors until he eventually founded Lasco.

The Lasco Manufacturing project will expand the factory from 100,000 square feet to 240,000 square feet, allowing for the addition of 10 product lines atop the 300 already made there. LML projects that sales will climb to $6 billion by 2014 as a result.

Managing Director Eileen Chin says the project will be financed from the business' cash flows and through borrowings.

The first phase of the project is to start in mid-November and end by April or May 2012, Eileen Chin told Sunday Business.

"This expansion will see the addition of factory facilities to make products that other manufacturers are making for us," she said.

Lasco is the first company to have three affiliates listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange. The companies went public in September 2010.

"No matter how small a shot you think you have, take it, move on and persevere," said Chin in his encouragement to young entrepreneurs.

His other peers in the PSOJ Hall of Fame are Carlton Alexander, Paul Geddes, Desmond Blades, Mayer Matalon, Rafael Diaz, Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, Raby Danvers Williams, Oliver Clarke, John Issa, Maurice Facey, Karl Hendrickson, Douglas Orane, Dr Marshall Hall, William 'Billy' McConnell, Dennis Lalor, Charles Johnston, Christopher Blackwell and Robert Levy.