Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 21st 2016 Contents BG6 NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt APRIL 21 • 2016
Champ Fleurs-based pack-
Caribbean Packaging Indus-
tries (CPI) spent over US$4
million (TT$25 million) in new equipment last
year as it modernised its operations to become
more efficient and competitive, said the company s managing
director, Darren Leigh.
"We wanted a solution that could meet the quality of the
market as our customers are automated and there is a need to
meet the new requirements of the market. Everyone has updated
their machinery to become more competitive. We had to mod-
ernise our equipment that included preparation and then the
actual process of installation. As the world is getting smaller
we need to have state-of-the-art technology that would protect
our business," he told the Business Guardian last week.
Leigh said the company was able to source this new equipment
from a number of countries.
"From placing the order to actually running it, this probably
took nine months. We needed to improve our print quality
because we needed to meet the needs of what our customers
wanted. This technology is from five countries. We bought the
equipment through a company in the United States but we its
Chinese, South Korean, Canadian, UK and the United States."
Leigh said: "The machinery that was acquired had to have
the capabilities to improve quality and accuracy. From our design
centre, we can produce negatives to printing plates with accuracy
of less than 0.1mm. With the new ink kitchen we can meet
any colour specification. The plates and ink then go onto our
new machine where we can produce a high graphic, tight
tolerance accuracy product that will meet our customers require-
CPI is just one of several manufacturing companies in T&T
that are making multimillion-dollar investments in new plant
and equipment despite the economic downturn.
CPI---which employs 180 workers---started operations in T&T
61 years ago and Leigh said it was one of the first manufacturers
in the country.
Established in 1954, CPI is a fully owned subsidiary of Canadian
Overseas Packaging Industries with affiliates in Jamaica and
Barbados, and major manufacturing units in Nairobi and Mom-
basa in East Africa (East Africa Packaging Industries), and three
plants in the United Kingdom (Encase Packaging).
Today, CPI manufactures corrugated containers and fittings
including such items as banana boxes, soft drink trays and
point-of-purchase display units and chipboard partitions for
the separation of glass bottles.
According to its Web site, the corporate structure of CPI as
the design and manufacturing centre with strategically positioned
partners, Barbados Packaging Industries (BPI) and Jamaica Pack-
aging Industries (JPI), ensure an effec-
tive supply of packaging solutions to
our diverse customer base.
Their customers in T&T include
most of the food and beverage manufacturers.
CPI also earns foreign exchange by exporting its products to
regional markets such as Jamaica, Barbados, Surname, Guyana,
St Maarten, Grenada and St Lucia.
"We are a significant earner, but not a net earner of foreign
exchange and the current forex position has put major strains
on our supply chain. The new machine should allow us to grow
our export earnings."
Leigh said the company produces paper solutions or corrugated
paper solutions that are supplied throughout T&T and to other
English-speaking Caribbean islands.
"We produce everything from cases for soft drinks trays,
pizza trays and boxes."
He also said their products are environmentally friendly.
"Our product are recycled. All our waste product from our
business is sent back to paper mills so, ultimately, it is the best
solution in our minds for packing solutions."
He added that in T&T there are no other companies that
specialises in what they do.
"We do not monopolise the market. We have severe com-
petition from the region, particularly because of globalisation
and all these trade agreements. Our service has to be better
than whoever else we compete with. It is a service industry."
Leigh said their sister companies in the region distributes
but the other sister companies, globally, have been automat-
"In terms of our sister companies, worldwide and our regional
competition, we invested in automation to become more pro-
ductive to be able to compete."
Leigh said they must continue to expand and look beyond
the Caribbean region.
"We have to grow our exports like everyone else. By being
progressive it would also help defend our own markets in T&T
and the region. We have to look at markets like Central America
as there are close but sometimes there are difficulties into getting
into new markets."
He added that going into a new market without help can be
"Also, we need to see if we need agency representation into
He said the manufacturing base in T&T is the second highest
employer and, despite the depressed economic conditions, the
sector will rebound.
"It was built on a vision of competition and taking businesses
into areas that have been entrepreneurial. I think the manu-
facturing base will get back to where we came from and where
we need to go. There is opportunity. There are many skills in
this sector in this country. There is enormous entrepreneurial
spirit and the ability to diversify and establish our markets is
not something that we need to restart. We just need to expand
at what we are already good at."
Leigh also said T&T has some very sound manufacturing
companies that can do well abroad. The manufacturing sector
just needs to "accelerate" its progress.
Despite his optimism in the sector, Leigh also spoke about
some of the challenges that manufacturers face.
"One of the major issues in doing business in T&T at the
moment is, obviously, the forex situation. It is damaging rela-
tionships with suppliers which is a concern. Like other man-
ufacturers, we also have problems with absenteeism. We are a
24-hour plant and crime is part of the problem with regard to
absenteeism in our night shifts.
"Crime also impacts doing business. Over the last ten years,
incorporating measures to protect your business from crime
has risen considerably."
He also said despite their new multimillion-dollar investment
in equipment, they have not had any mass layoffs and they
made the right decision.
"The key to the investment is that, if you look at the next
year or two, you would ask yourself why would you make such
a big investment? If you want to be here doing business in our
markets in T&T, you have to invest.
"It is the right time as you are securing the future of the
business. It is easy to have a short-term vision but when you
have been manufacturing for over 60 years you have to look
at the long term, so we can be here another 60 years."
Managing director, Caribbean Packaging Industries:
Investing is the key
to business growth
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
The newly installed
Apstar die cutting
machine at Caribbean
Packaging Industries Ltd.
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