Reaching for the stars
If there is one thing Darone Brathwaite will be doing in 2017 it is working to ensure that C & G Star Trading Ltd is “the number one manufacturer of agro-processed products in the world”.
“I want it to be a household name throughout the world,” said the operations manager at the business his mother Glendene Greaves started in 1992.
Confident of its growth and the direction it is heading, he told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that he did not start at the top of the company commonly known as Star Products. In fact, he started out as a general worker from about 16 years old holding different positions in areas including merchandising, delivery, production, and administration, learning the ropes as he went along.
“My reason for getting involved was continuing the legacy. I realised that different businesses in Barbados failed after the owner or the original proprietor either leaves the business or dies and there is no succession plan.
“On top of that, I believe I am very obligated to my mother in terms of what she’s sacrificed for me,” he said.
“I believe I want to carry on the dream because the business actually put me through school, it puts food on the table, it helped with my livelihood for my entire life so I think that I owe it.
“Seeing how it developed over the years, it gave me a passion in wanting to live up to responsibility and continuing the legacy.
“I really just wanted to utilise what I had in creating something of worth that was already recognised as something worthwhile and beneficial to the Barbadian community.”
Set to celebrate the 25th anniversary in February, Brathwaite said while they offered consumers a range of syrups that included the popular sorrel which is available year long, mauby and tamarind, as well as seasonings, sauces, chutneys and marinades, they started out making vinegar.
“In producing that vinegar, we got a lot of comments from the public saying they wanted different products.
“So, then the others came along because of that demand from the market.
“We’ve already started adding to the existing complement of products. We’ve started doing tamarind ketchup, we’ve added a pepper jelly, we did a flying fish sauce and we are in the process of finalising the ham glaze,” the manager said.
A fire in 1999 razed their then uninsured Pine Industrial Park-based company, destroying products and equipment, but Brathwaite said they struggled but were able to rebuild thanks to his mother’s efforts and today they have 13 employees. She is still involved in the company but holds more of an advisory role these days.
The demand and interest in the products in Barbados is evident, the manager said, as for about four or five years there was no deliberate marketing campaign, “push for sales, extra clients and the company was pretty much surviving” which “says something about its likeability”.
Regarding the export markets, their products can be found in Europe, Canada and the United States but they “have held back” from the latter because of the certifications.
“We’d already penetrated those markets.
“It’s just really a case of certification allowing the products to continually be sent there. The certification takes anywhere between eight months to a year to get, so we had to hold off those markets but we’re penetrating more of the UK and Canada in the meantime while that certification is on hold.
“We’re in certain parts of the Caribbean too; we’ve already done exports to places like Grenada, and Trinidad,” he explained.
“We want to do what Dr Ali Muhammed calls the onion ring concept.
“Starting locally and ensuring that we master the immediate environment and then go out regionally and internationally. So, the strategy that is being used now is concentrate more on the Caribbean market and when that is done then completely do a pull out campaign to go into the international market.”
Along with the certification will come an opportunity to hire more people in production and managements in order to satisfy the demand.
Brathwaite also shared his immediate plans for the company in 2017. These include bringing out a new line of products and on special occasions – Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Crop Over.
There will also be a new, fresh look with their products and a thrust towards a greater digital and social media presence. (GBM)