Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 16th 2017 Contents BG6 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt MARCH 16 • 2017
Reviving Grand Bay
Kevin Marcilliat, the CEO of
Grand Bay Paper Products
Ltd and Trinidad Tissues
Ltd, has been successful in
beginning to turn around the
fortunes of these companies.
Marcilliat, an American, said in 2016 Grand
Bay Paper earned US$19 million in foreign ex-
change and Trinidad Tissues, US $11 million.
"That is US $30 million in foreign exchange
and growing. In 2016, we completed the debt
restructuring which was very important for
our future. We did a lot of work on the cost of
production of our manufacturing, improving
our competitiveness and profitability.
"In 2016, we also opened new markets in
Cuba and Haiti. We made the Haiti contact
through the InvesTT event and exporTT," he
Marcilliat spoke two Fridays ago at a pres-
entation at the boardroom of the company at
the O'Meara Industrial Estate, Arima.
Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon and Ag-
riculture Minister Clarence Rambharat toured
the plant with Grand Bay's CEO. They also sat
in during the CEO's power point presentation
on the company's performance.
This positive financial report from the
CEO comes after last year's news reports of
the possible closure of the company and the
approval of a loan of US $5 million, which
received a government guarantee that was
granted through Exim Bank.
Grand Bay Paper Products Ltd and Trinidad
Tissues Ltd are part of Grand Bay Paper and
Care Products Corp headquartered in Panama.
Grand Bay is the paper manufacturing plant
that processes semi-finished paper from raw
materials and Trinidad Tissues is the "con-
verting" company which makes the end prod-
ucts like paper napkins and other tissues.
Between the two companies, 410 people
Trinidad Tissues Ltd has been around since
"Its first relationship with our group com-
panies was as a customer in buying the big
semi-finished rolls from the Venezuelan and
Colombian plant over the years. So our group
was a supplier to Trinidad Tissues for many
"After Unicell built this plant in 2005, our
group was invited in 2009 to look at the Unicell
property and to acquire it and, at the same
time, negotiated to buy Trinidad Tissues. It
is very important to have a paper mill and also
He added they are the only paper mill in the
"Our capacity is about 30,000 tonnes per
year from the Grand Bay Paper Mill. The plant
was evaluated by a Canadian engineering firm
as we went through the negotiations on our
restructure. They estimated our replacement
value at about US $100 million.
"If we broke ground today on just the Grand
Bay side of the business, not Trinidad Tissues,
it would cost us US$100 million to rebuild this
factory," he said.
Marcilliat said Trinidad Tissues has grown
to where it is now converting 1,000 tonnes
"I arrived in Trinidad in 2011 and it was more
like 500 tonnes a month, so we have doubled
the output of Trinidad Tissues.
"When we acquired the company, it was
converting about 6,000 tonnes per year and
taking 15 converting lines to do it. We have
since gotten rid of some of the old equipment
and invested in new lines. Now we have eight
lines converting 10,000 in 2016 and, in 2017,
we will do about 12,000."
In 2016, they exported 1,800 containers and
out of that, 800 containers of finished goods
and 1,000 containers of semi-finished goods.
Six of the ten markets they exported to in
2016 are Spanish speaking.
Marcilliat said for Cuba alone sales were
roughly US $2 million in 2016.
"Any napkin that you have used in Cuba is
paper from Trinidad," he added.
When asked by the Trade Minister during
his presentation how successful the venture
into the Haitian market was, Marcilliat replied
that they have only just entered.
"The target that we are going after are the
competitors who are bringing 10 to 12 con-
tainers per month. There are 11 million people.
Most of what Haiti is getting is coming from
the US, the Dominican Republic and China.
So we are going head-to-head with products
He spoke about PriceSmart stores in Trin-
idad, Barbados, Aruba, Jamaica and the Do-
minican Republic that were supplied by the US.
"Our group of companies won the contract
so we supply the Caribbean and from Pana-
ma, Guatemala and Colombia, they supply the
PriceSmart stores in that region. Because we
have a regional footprint, we were able to take
that business from a US supplier and supply
duty free in each of these markets."
At this point, the Trade Minister interjected
and noted that Grand Bay's rapid expansion
overseas may warrant a physical expansion of
the plant to which Marcilliat replied "that is
what we want in the future. Our mission is to
turn everything that the paper mill can make
into finished goods. Right now we have grown
to the point that Grand Bay has increased to
2,400 tonnes per month and it used to be about
1,500. What we want is for Trinidad Tissues
to grow to take all of that and sell finished
goods into these markets as it is a higher-value
product and it is harder to replace.
"It easy to ship semi-finished from China,
Vietnam and Indonesia as they are all landing
paper here. But the finished goods are harder
to ship," he said.
Marcilliat said the operations are predom-
inantly run by T&T nationals with only a few
"We are down to five expats out of over
400 people. If there is someone from another
country that person has to be in T&T to teach
because we have to develop the knowledge in
this country for this new industry."
He said Unicell had imported foreign labour
for almost everything and he criticised that
"You cannot start a new industry in a coun-
try and not train the local people how to run
it. That has been the change in our strategy;
working on the people here to develop the
During the presentation Marcilliat asked
the Trade Minister to help with speedier re-
imbursements of outstanding VAT payments;
a complaint of local companies over the last
"This is an issue that has been impacting all
manufacturers here. It has been severe for us.
This is one of the things that has been hinder-
ing us from being able to invest more capital.
Between the two companies we have more than
US $2 million we are waiting to receive.
"I know it is being worked on but anything
that could be done to help free this up for the
manufacturers so we can put it to work would
be appreciated," he said.
...Turn around for O'Meara paper products firm
CEO of Grand Bay Paper Products Ltd and Trinidad Tissues Ltd
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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