How has the company grown since GB Energy acquired Texaco's operations in Jamaica?
When we took over at the end of 2012, we were number three on the retail side; now we are number one. These five years have been a great experience for us. We have been able to grow in many aspects. We started with 52 service stations and are now supplying 67, including a few stations for airports. Previously, we had 2% market share, selling 1.2 million gallons of fuel per year to airlines. In 2016, we closed with 30 million gallons and 46% market share. It has fluctuated a little because airlines renew their contracts every year, though we still retain a high percentage of the market. Furthermore, we have started to supply to many of the industries as a result of our relationships and reputation for being a reliable supplier of energy. We are now entering into new businesses, for example selling asphalt to the Chinese as well as the LPG business.
How do you evaluate your contribution to the Jamaican economy?
From the beginning, we decided to work with and purchase from the refinery here to help contribute to the growth of the country. We are currently Petrojam's largest customer. We also have a trading division based in Panama, and can supply fuel to Petrojam, helping with its import needs. In terms of employment, we truly support local talent. We instill a high level of confidence in our people, and they have developed a great deal of trust in the future. At the moment, we have 49 direct employees between this office and the terminal facilities. We have around 60 contractors in the stations and 24 contractors in the aviation facilities. If we include the total number of people working in service stations, our employees total more than 1,000. We are also active participants in local organizations and chambers. We are heavily involved in JAMPRO and the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), where I sit on the energy committee and the membership committee to assist the interaction of the private sector with the government. Our goal at PSOJ is to help companies and SMEs grow. I also sit on the board of American Chamber of Commerce in Jamaica, and we actively work with the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce.
How has your partnership with New Leaf enabled GB Energy to reduce its energy costs?
At service stations, we consume a large amount of electricity on illumination, walk-in coolers, and air conditioning. We partnered with New Leaf Power to install solar systems in our service stations, and that has halved our electricity bills. The beauty is that whatever excess we produce can be sold back to the grid for credit; there are savings all around.
What challenges and opportunities do you see for gasoline retailers and the petroleum industry in Jamaica?
Next year, the Texaco brand will celebrate its 100th anniversary in Jamaica, and most of our retailers have been there for over 20 years. In the past, their mentality was that the oil major had to do everything, and they did not have to do much. We have changed all of that. My retailers are being trained now in entrepreneurship and leadership and are looking at business in a different way. My preferred retailer is the one who comes to me and says he wants to invest. We go 50/50, and they put money into their business. We can then maximize the use of the money to be more effective. As for challenges, we need to continue supporting the refinery here and help it grow; otherwise, it will become a storage facility. The challenge is for it to come up with the upgrades it needs to continue functioning as a refinery so we can support it.