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Moonraker SIPS shutters free zone operation

Published:Wednesday | July 2, 2014 | 7:00 AM
The Moonraker SIPS plant at the Kingston Free Zone is seen padlocked on June 20, 2014. - Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

Tameka Gordon, Business Reporter

The plant operated by Moonraker SIPS Limited, producers of the magnesium oxide board 'extremegreen', has been shuttered for about three months, but its owners insist its only a temporary setback.

The company, located at 50 Caracas Avenue at the Kingston Free Zone, closed its doors and laid off all staff on the backend of what chief executive officer of the company, Samuel Catling, said was the theft of all its raw material at its bonded warehouse. A top official of the free zone has denied knowledge of any theft.

"We got robbed. Our bonded warehouse was robbed and they stole our entire inventory. They cleaned me out and I don't even know who it was, and nothing is being done about it," Catling said.

Catling conceded the company is not currently producing any of its sheathing panels, including its modified MGO board, and that Moonraker SIPS has been inactive for more than three months, but said production is to resume "at the end of the month", when a shipment of raw material is expected.

"It isn't closed down, it is temporarily closed until new raw material arrives, which will arrive at the end of this month," he said when pressed on why prospective clients have been unable to reach the company since the publication of an article exploring its modified version of MGO boards.

Clive Fagan, chairman of the Kingston Free Zone, said he was unaware of any robbery and the Newport Police also said no report was filed.

"We have no knowledge of that," Fagan said.

However, the Port Authority of Jamaica, operating entity for the free zone, was not as forthcoming.

"We are currently undertaking a review of specific aspects of the operations of the Kingston Free Zone ... thus, the management of the Kingston Free Zone is not in a position to respond at this time," said Kimberley Stiff, assistant vice-president of marketing communications at the Port Authority of Jamaica.

Catling, in a previous interview, said Moonraker SIPS, which began operating in Jamaica in 2010, has invested "a sum well in excess of US$1 million" in the extremegreen technology, which Catling said has doubled the company's sales year on year.

Temporary layoff

Catling said he laid off his workforce until he receives new raw materials. In the meantime, the plant is mostly padlocked.

"I have no product to manufacture panels. I've got new products that's coming in as we speak, but I've had to lay everybody off, because I can't just have a factory sitting there for three months, waiting for products to come, and we just pay people to sit there. I actually have no materials whatsoever, which is a massive setback for us, but right now the factory is closed," he said.

He said persons may have had trouble contacting the company because "there is a limit as to how quickly I can answer the phone".

"We are a small company. We have limited number of staff and the phone keeps ringing off the hook. We return them all as quickly as we can ... all the calls are on forward to my other directors," he added.

Companies Offices records list only two directors for Moonraker - Samuel Catling and Richard Catling.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com