WATER

Jamaica 2019 | MANUFACTURING | B2B

In a rapidly growing region with growing demand, water companies are fighting hard to expand quickly enough.

MICHAEL BOYD
Managing Director
MikiAyana Company Limited
Nayana Williams
NAYANA WILLIAMS
CEO
Lifespan

What are some of the major challenges you face in your market?

Michael Boyd To be competitive in the bottled water business, one has to understand the beverage industry and be creative. First and foremost, we are all saddled with the high cost of energy as manufacturers, since our electricity costs per kWh are one of the highest in the world. Jamaica has not optimized the use of its natural resources, as we should be moving at a faster pace when it comes to alternative energy. We are surrounded by the ocean, which lends itself to wave energy; we have an abundance of sun, which lends itself to solar energy; and we have great potential for wind energy. Yet, these technologies are not at the front and center of curriculum in our universities. To compete with bottled water on the international stage, we have to bring down the electricity cost in Jamaica and modernize our production facilities, which requires cheap capital, which is most difficult to come by in Jamaica. These costs affect the growth and export potential of our local products. Jamaica easily has one of the best water qualities in the world, and we should be competing with the world-class brands. The bulk of our packaging raw materials, pre-forms for making bottles, labels, and caps are all purchased overseas, which requires foreign exchange. The instability of the JMD also adds to the cost of producing a case of water locally and prevents us from competing in the exporting market.

Nayana Williams Our product is unique, and we are the only producer of naturally alkaline spring water. Our operations have increased and so has demand for our product. As a result, we do not yet have sufficient capacity to satisfy current market demand. As things stand, we are looking at finding an investor or considering taking the company public. We did some initial expansions but are still at a stage where we need to increase our capacity. Furthermore, we have to ensure that we maintain our unique selling position. We found something that was different from all other brands on the market and have capitalized on it. Many spring waters have a neutral pH, and the quality needs to be maintained throughout the treatment process, which is done to ensure the finished product remains safe to consume. Many companies are not able to do that without subtracting or adding, but we have been able to achieve this with our top-quality product.

How have you contributed to the Jamaican economy?

MB At our plant, with the exception of myself, everyone is from the community we operate in. Our business provides employment within the local community for over 40 employees. Almost equidistant to Norman Manley International Airport and Sangster International Airport, and with the ongoing improvement in the road network and the purported development of the harbor in Clarendon, our business and facility should see significant growth in the center of Jamaica. In terms of offering work, we expect to grow. There are now 45 million people in the Caribbean, including Cuba, and I see great opportunities in our own backyard. We are looking at exporting to the Caribbean rather than to the US at the moment.

NW We are indirectly providing jobs to 200 people and, at the end of 2017, were employing 108 people, along with several independent contractors. In 1Q2018 alone, we made 21 new hires. We are always on the lookout for qualified young people whom we can train with our intense training program to familiarize them with our culture, code of conduct, food safety quality systems, and customer service charter. Additionally, we are even sending some of our permanent employees to college in order to increase their potential.