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Meet our 2014 Nation Builders

Published:Friday | October 31, 2014 | 12:00 AM

The National Commercial Bank's 2014 Nation Builder Awards ended with a gala held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on October 21. This year, the rewards and recognition programme saw nine small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) being nominated in four categories. Four nominees were named overall winners in their categories. However, NCB considers all nominees in this unique programme already winners, having emerged on top out of almost 120 applicants.

Heart Institute of the Caribbean Ltd

Overall Winner - The Nation Builder Award 2014.

Winner of the Innovation Award 2014.

Winner of NCB's Facebook public poll for outstanding Nation Builder.

According to the World Health Organization, 17 million deaths are recorded annually from cardiovascular diseases and 32 million individuals suffer from heart attacks or strokes each year. This growing crisis was a major contribution to the establishment of the Heart Institute of the Caribbean (HIC).

Primarily based in Kingston, with branches in Mandeville and Ocho Rios, HIC is considered the regional centre for comprehensive and sophisticated diagnosis and management of all forms of heart disease.

The company was the first and only cardiovascular clinic in central Jamaica with a comprehensive menu of services which include nuclear medicine, echocardiography, stress testing and ambulatory BP. It is the first and only emergency cardiovascular service in Jamaica with a dedicated ambulance service for cardiovascular care. In addition, it has the only full service nuclear laboratories in the country, operated and conducted by the only board certified nuclear cardiologist in Jamaica. It is the first and only nuclear myocardial viability scanning facility, able to determine if patients are likely to benefit from coronary revascularisation procedures. HIC also has the only pacemaker and ICD device implantation programme in the English-speaking Caribbean run by board-certified cardiac electrophysiologists.

Just as it is held in high esteem as a business, the company's community development efforts are admirable. In Portmore, the HIC operates a heart station, where some medical services are offered for those unable to come to Kingston. They have also partnered with local pharmacies and churches to provide blood pressure checks at discounted rates.

Round Hill Developments Ltd

Nominee - Nation Builder Award 2014

Founded in 1953 by John Pringle on a lush 110-acre peninsula west of Montego Bay, Round Hill Hotel and Villas is one of the Caribbean's longest operating resorts. The hotel grounds boast 90 exclusive villa rooms and suites, and a selection of 27 private two- to six-bedroom signature villas. Many of these feature private pools, and ocean front guest rooms designed by Ralph Lauren. In addition, open-air terrace dining is available at Round Hill. The resort also features award-winning family programmes, an infinity pool, tennis courts, and an Elemis spa located in a restored 18th-century plantation house.

As much as the hotel is known for its success, Round Hill spearheads many charitable initiatives, including the Hanover Charities' Sugar Cane Ball which raises about US$250,000 for community improvement and development every year.

Managing director, Josef Forstmayr credits NCB for its consistent service and assistance in its business goals. "NCB has been our major bank of choice for more than 25 years. We have great relationships with our branches in Lucea and in Montego Bay. We get great service and we are excited to be banking with a Jamaican institution that is sound, committed and has a strong passion for the destination."

Home International Ltd

Nominee - Nation Builder Award 2014

Garnering an international reputation for quality home furnishing goods and services is no easy feat. Still, Home International Ltd has more than risen to the occasion in its more than 30 years of operations. Established in 1981, Home International is a division of the Everoy Chin & Co Group of Companies, along with Everoy H. Chin & Company Ltd, White Hall Fabricators, and Robins Bay Beach Resort.

Home International is the sole distributor for DuPont Corian, the number one solid surface manufacturer in the world. Having his company counted among these giants of the industry is something that CEO Everoy Chin is very proud of.

Home International conducts business in a number of arenas, ranging from architecture to interior design to surveying and engineering. It distinguishes itself from the competition through its price points and longevity of material. The company's reputation and operations extend far beyond the Caribbean. However, its focus still remains on giving back to the community here at home.

Chin takes pride in the role Home International has played in community development and education. "We joined with the International University of the Caribbean, headed by Dr Maitland Evans. We contribute scholarships because education is the future," he shared. "We gave the university 10 acres of land to establish a campus in the north for those that cannot afford to come to the Kingston universities."

The Home International chief also raved about the National Commercial Bank (NCB) and its impact on the overall journey of his company, calling the bank a tower of strength. He states that without NCB, his company probably wouldn't have reached such heights - and wouldn't be able to help others do the same.

Supermed Group of Pharmacies

Nominee - Nation Builder Award 2014

"I was a medical rep in 1989 when a colleague asked me to find a suitable location to open a pharmacy, which I did. When I told her about the location, she said she had already found a place," Dunn shared. "That's when the thought crossed my mind - this is a great location and this community needs a pharmacy - what if I opened a pharmacy?"

Despite his nervousness and lack of business skills, Dunn pressed on with the challenge ahead. The first store was opened on June 26, 1989. With a bit of gusto and determination, he has since created and sustained an operation of a group of six pharmacies islandwide. The group consists of The New Knutsford Pharmacy, The New Port Maria Pharmacy, Supermed Mall Pharmacy, Supermed Pharmacy in Linstead, Clares Supermed Port Maria and the flagship location, which features the first and only drive-through service in Jamaica - Hughenden Pharmacy.

Supermed also values social responsibility, and so, review every appeal for assistance. Whether assisting with painting and ground maintenance of the Hughenden Post Office, or helping parents in nearby communities with lunch money and school supplies for children, Dunn is firm in his determination to see Supermed lend its support wherever it can.

Renewable Energy Developers Ltd

Nominee - Innovation Award 2014

Since its establishment in 2010, Renewable Energy Developers Ltd (RED) has built its business focusing on turnkey installations of solar energy related systems for the public and private sector. Steered by CEO, Maikel Oerbekke, the company has cultivated a reputation for high-quality service in the Caribbean region. Jamaica is a particularly 'hot spot' for harvesting solar energy, and Oerbekke seized upon the opportunity to delve into the market, basing its operations primarily in Jamaica. The company has designed and installed numerous solar PV systems across the island, including critical public sector entities, including airports and universities, and has plans to expand to other Caribbean markets. Another notch on the RED belt is the completion of a 25-system installation for 21 Jamaica Broilers farmers. This is regarded as the biggest solar PV project undertaken in any Caribbean agricultural sector. Oerbekke is also pleased with the benefits that the Jamaican economy will receive because of RED's eco-friendly operations, beginning with the immediate reduction of the amount of oil imported into the country.

"A lot of work has been done so far. The future for RED is very bright because people realise they need to start cutting their costs. Electricity from JPS is one of the largest expenses and there are companies that want change," says Oerbekke.

EnvironMed (Ecofarms)

Winner - Start-up Award 2014

Grace Foster-Reid won't be kept down. After the bauxite downturn in Jamaica, she rose from the ashes of her former occupation, and set her sights on innovation through honey product development ... and thus, EcoFarms was born.

EcoFarms is a Jamaican family-owned business run by Foster-Reid, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate turned Vintner, along with a dedicated team of handpicked employees.

Since its inception in May 2011, the company has used the social entrepreneurship model to realise Foster-Reid's vision of creating meaningful employment for 100 Jamaicans.

"My dad had some pet bees and I stole them from him," she said with a chuckle, "and that's how I started EcoFarms. When the bauxite company went down, I thought to myself, 'if every engineer started a business and employed five people, we could recreate all those jobs.' So I made it my mission to employ 100 people."

The company uses sustainable technology to effectively produce organic-quality products. Bees are strategically placed in remote areas near orchards of coffee, logwood, orange and flowering trees and crops. Honey is then transported to their Bureau of Standard Jamaica-certified factory, where the product is bottled for the consumer as raw honey or used as raw material for other products. The honey is then exported, but can also be found on local shelves. EcoFarms' main products are Buzz Honey Wine and HoneyStix. Buzz Honey Wine is a gold medal winning product available in three flavours: sorrel, starfruit and otaheite apple.

The proud owner expressed excitement about being nominated and now being named the Start-up Category Winner of the NCB Nation Builders Awards.

Vineyards Food Products

Nominee - Start-up Award 2014

Developed and launched under the Seaside brand, Vineyard Foods is the only producer of canned, boneless salted fish in the Western Hemisphere. This unique product is just the start for Vineyards, as the brand plans to aggressively venture into other canned fish products, while expanding its product base and distribution. Already, the company has engaged Caribbean Producers Ltd as a distributor, and can now count Jamaican brands and last year's NCB Nation Builder Gray's Pepper Products Ltd and King Pepper Ltd among its customers.

Vineyard foods was established in 2012 as an export and distribution entity, but the company has made a name for its self for its sustainability and multi-national impact. Since its first year in operation, the company has built a credible customer base both locally and internationally. It has been actively sourcing and consolidating third-party brands owned by larger food distributors in Canada, The United States and the United Kingdom.

As profits grow, Jamaican farmers and manufacturers continue to benefit at the back end of the supply chain with Stone citing Sterling Packaging, a division of Vineyard foods, as an example.

Operational for only two years, the company is now being considered for the National Commercial Bank's Nation Builders Award - an achievement that Stone says is a huge boost for a startup like Vineyards.


Eva Myers (Evita's)

Winner - Women in Business Award 2014

The Best Little Pasta House in Jamaica opened its doors on December 4, 1989. Its predecessor, Evita's on the Sea was forced to close its doors in the aftermath of Hurricane Gilbert. Still, that didn't stop owner, Eva Myers, who was determined to bring her Venetian roots to her island home.

Myers adopted Jamaica as her home and its flavours as her inspiration many years ago. Since then, she has worked tirelessly to give back to the island, helping with her parish's development. She strives to be as charitable as she is successful.

Myers also played a part in starting and building the One Love Basic School, an institution subsidised partly by the Government and other foundations. For her efforts, Eva is renowned throughout the island for her community involvement, culminating in her receiving the distinguished Lt Governor of Excellence Award - the first woman in the Eastern Canada and Caribbean district to do so. With all she has accomplished, Myers is still very excited about her future, and with good reason. She is this year's recipient of the 2014 NCB Nation Builders Women in Business Award.

She believes that is important that women entrepreneurs and business women become even more active in removing the 'glass ceiling', but is happy that there has been a shift in empowerment of women in the workforce. She credits NCB with always providing support for her business ambitions.


Jacqueline Tyson-Niederhauser (From Thought to Finish)

 Nominee - Women in Business Award 2014

"Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability." This is the mantra of Jacqueline Tyson-Niederhauser, founder of From Thought to Finish (FTTF). It's a philosophy that has served her well in life and in the business of serving others. She always dreamt of spearheading her own culinary operations business and in 2003, after racking up 20 years of culinary expertise and event management experience, FTTF was born.

Training a staff who will be in high demand is high on her priority list. By providing them with the skills to compete in an international talent pool, Tyson believes she is offering persons from inner-city neighbourhoods an opportunity to increase their earnings and quality of life.

With all her charity work, Tyson has seized upon many great opportunities to build and expand her customer base. She is currently the resident caterer for the Jamaica Conference Centre and operates the Seabreeze Restaurant. FTTF also staffs the cafeteria at the United States Embassy in Jamaica, and now offers services at the Constant Spring Golf Club. Tyson shows no sign of slowing down.

She is very happy that NCB is offering startup companies a place to find otherwise elusive financial support. She also values the recognition received after being nominated for the NCB Nation Builders Women in Business Award.

"I feel truly honoured; I feel humbled. I feel that it's something amazing and I'd like to say to all the young people out there, all the people in a business that have a dream, that you can do it."