Berger painting a better picture through public service

Published: Tuesday | January 15, 2013 Comments 0
Robert Woodstock (left), Warren McDonald (centre) and Joan McDonald (right), of Berger Paints, at last year's annual dinner of the Jamaican Institute of Architects in Kingston. - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer
Robert Woodstock (left), Warren McDonald (centre) and Joan McDonald (right), of Berger Paints, at last year's annual dinner of the Jamaican Institute of Architects in Kingston. - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer
Berger Paints boss Warren McDonald interacts with students at a school the company supports. - File photos
Berger Paints boss Warren McDonald interacts with students at a school the company supports. - File photos
Warren McDonald, managing director of Berger Paints Jamaica Limited, at one of his annual general meetings.
Warren McDonald, managing director of Berger Paints Jamaica Limited, at one of his annual general meetings.

Today, we continue to profile companies that have been nominated for the prestigious 2012 Gleaner Honour Award. Berger Paints Jamaica Ltd has been nominated in the category public service.

Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter

For more than 59 years, Berger Paints Jamaica Limited has not only provided enduring beauty and protection for Jamaican homes, but has been painting kaleidoscopic dreams for many through its varied public-service work.

A committed corporate citizen, Berger continues to support national development at the highest levels through outreach initiatives in education, sports and culture.

"We feel obligated to do these things, because we feel it is part of being a good corporate citizen," said chief executive officer, Berger Jamaica, and regional managing director for Berger Paints Caribbean, Warren McDonald, who has guided the growth of the company for 19 of his 33 years there. "It is not only providing good quality products and a good service, but it is also giving back to the community in which you were able to derive these benefits, so it is just part of our make-up."

Berger has contributed to infrastructural development and nutrition programmes at the Riverton Meadows and Callaloo Mews Early Childhood Development centres - institutions situated in the communities adjoining its manufacturing plant.

Junior Rowe, principal of Riverton Meadows Early Childhood Education Centre, believes the paint giant's contribution to the school over the last nine years has had a far-reaching effect.

"What they (Berger) do is to partner with GraceKennedy to provide products. They pay half of the money for the foodstuff each term and GraceKennedy pays the other half," Rowe outlined. "It has been a great help and the nutritional value of it has been tremendous."

Berger's most recent contribution to that institution was on December 13, when they held a treat for the more than 200 students who attend the Riverton Meadows and Callaloo Mews Early Childhood Development centres.

"They also provide us with paint to beautify the school whenever it is needed," Rowe said. "I am overwhelmed and the parents have expressed their appreciation. So they (Berger) have been good corporate citizens and a trendsetter in this type of endeavour."

A firm commitment to quality and the delivery of innovative, cutting-edge products and services have been the hallmarks of success for Berger Paints, ensuring the company's continued dominance in the local market.

Berger Paints remains the largest paint-manufacturing company in the English-speaking Caribbean and produces more than 95 per cent of its over 200 products locally. These products are all non-toxic and environmentally friendly. The company established the first resin plant in the English-speaking Caribbean - West Indies Resin Products - to manufacture alkyd resin, a key ingredient in making oil-based gloss paints. A laboratory was built to conduct paint research and development according to tropical specifications. It is out of that laboratory market, leaders such as Berger 303 Flat Emulsion, 404 Gloss Oil, Everglow Low Sheen Emulsion and Magicote Flat Emulsion emerged. The company also launched the first locally manufactured automotive paint, Viton.

Berger holds the distinction of being the first regional company in the paint sector to achieve certification from the International Standards Organisation (ISO), when it was awarded the ISO 9001:2000 Quality Mark in 2002, upgraded in August 2008 to the ISO 9001:2008 standard. In 2006, the company attained the ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management Standard and this year copped the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association Award for Best Environmental Management Programme.

In the same vein, the company has rewarded exceptional performers in education by sponsoring the Annual Roll of Honour Award, presented, since 1993, by the Jamaica Teachers' Association to outstanding educators. In addition to this, the company finances a Master of Architecture scholarship, tenable at the Caribbean School of Architecture at the University of Technology.

The company collaborated with Angels of Love, a non-profit organisation, in their 2012 Labour Day project to undertake the beautification of the Bustamante Hospital for Children.

"They (Berger) gave us paint and brushes and also gave of their time as, through their gifts, we were able to improve the ambience and aesthetics of the Bustamante Children's Hospital," Phillip Lui, founder and director of Angels of Love, outlined. "Those sorts of gifts you call them love gifts. I can't tell you how significant it was, as it is immeasurable."

The company, which is entrenched in local culture, has for the past 45 years, sponsored the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's Festival of Dance.

Berger has also made major sports contributions through its long-standing sponsorship of the Jamaica Netball Association and the Gibson Relays. The company also sponsored the Jamaica Basketball League for 30 years.

McDonald views his company's philanthropy as second nature, considering its successful run in the local market.

In 1992, Berger Paints Jamaica Limited, became a publicly listed company on the Jamaica Stock Exchange and has approximately 6,000 local shareholders. The post-public issue period represents the most successful in the company's history. Although the Jamaican economy recorded negative growth in the 1990s, Berger Jamaica consolidated itself as the dominant paint company in Jamaica, increasing volumes and its overall market share to over 55 per cent.

McDonald attributes Berger's world-class performance to the strong and competent team of employees, over 60 per cent of whom have served for more than 10 years. A justice of the peace, McDonald was appointed managing director in 1993, after serving 13 years as financial controller, and was, in 2006, given the added responsibility of supervising Berger's operations in the region, including subsidiaries in Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.

"You have to set an example as a listed company on the stock market," said McDonald, who served as chairman of the Portmore Community College Board for 15 years and is currently first vice-president of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce. "We have over 30 listed companies and I think these should set the pace for the thousands of companies in the country in terms of paying your taxes and showing corporate governance and the type of management that we all hope for in terms of transparency and how decisions are made."

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