Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 20th 2013 Contents JUNE 2013 • WEEK THREE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG7
Starting a business with $100 is no easy accomplishment,
but hard works pays off, said Brent Halls, director, Kings
and Queens Manufacturing and Distributing Company.
"My wife and I started off with $100. We used to work
as waiters; we used to earn extra money off tips. My wife s
father used to make pepper at home and sell it to friends
and neighbours. After we started selling to smaller shops
and parlours and smaller businesses."
Halls spoke to the Business Guardian last week on the
opening day of the Trade and Investment Convention
(TIC), which ran from June 12 to 15 at the Hyatt Regency
Trinidad hotel, Port-of-Spain.
Today, Halls is the owner of a successful business that
company that produces bottled seasonings and pepper
and sells to supermarkets and wholesalers.
Around 2004, the business started to expand.
"When we were operating in Laventille, it was under
my father-in-law s house," Halls said. "Then the neighbours
started to complain when we
were processing the pepper at
nights because they would get
sick and started sneezing and
other ailments. We had to move."
By 2009 they moved operations to O Meara Road,
"We built a small factory there. We got a loan from
Republic Bank for $100,000. The loan came in parts. I
have had a relationship with this bank for many years and
there was no problem to get the loan. I have an excellent
relationship with them," Halls said.
"We used it for the overdrafts, we also used part of it
for new equipment and completion of the factory in
Halls said he was trained by different institutions.
"I received training from the Caribbean Industrial
Research Institute (Cariri) to make the product where it
is today. They guided us in terms of the know-how and
understanding the industry. They were like a backbone,"
Halls spoke about production process.
"We make pepper sauce and regular seasoning, including
geera seasoning and lime seasoning. We are also looking
at manufacturing local tomato ketchup. We are doing
negotiations with local farmers for this and it is in the
pipeline. Right now we label by hand and we bottle by
hand and employ three workers."
Halls wants to supply all of T&T.
"We sell a premium product and they pay the price for
it. My major competitor brands are Chief and Matouk s.
They have been in the business for years. Some people
think all seasonings are the same, but that is not the case.
We do sampling with the larger supermarkets, so people
get to taste our products. Our seasoning is 100 per cent
He said other seasonings on the market "water down"
"So they put four gallons of water, they add colouring,
they mix it, they add starch and get a mixture. But it
would not be as rich as our natural seasonings as they
are breaking it down. So it is more profitable for them
to do that," he said.
Halls said the company sells the 750ml bottles of sea-
soning for $16.
"It is then sold on some supermarket shelves at $20.
For larger supermarkets, like Hi-Lo,
it would be sold for an even higher
price," he said.
TIC organisers saw the "potential"
of his company and invited him to
"We got a call from Trinidad Export Company and they
told us our product is up to international standards and
they will help us if we wish to get into the export business.
We are in talks with them now. Even when we break into
markets outside of T&T, we must maintain those markets,"
Halls said he wants to export, but is experiencing prob-
lems with suppliers.
"We manufacture about 30 cases of seasoning a day
and there are 24 bottles in a case. The problem is that
we have difficulties getting supplies. We want to export
to the world and want to be like brand names, like Kraft,
but we have problems with supplies."
He said the company has a supplier in Paramin, but
supplies fall short due to the rapid growth of the busi-
"We have now decided to bring in other suppliers from
Arima to Sangre Grande. We are asking them now to plant
the seasoning and pepper for us."
"It is a big step for us, but me must get ready for the
Halls offered this advice to other small and medium-
sized business owners: "You must enjoy what you are
doing. You must have a vision and annual targets and
$100 start-up now
looking to export
Labour shortage in the printing
and packaging industry is not
unique to T&T, says Howard Fen-
ton, senior consultant, National
Association for Printing Leadership
"We absolutely see the same
thing in a number of different
countries (trends showing labour
shortage). The perception of a per-
son working in the graphic arts or
printing companies has a bad rep-
utation. There is the reputation
that if you work in the printing
industry you get dirty, you get ink
under your fingernails, that it is a
tough labour job to.
"People coming out of schools
are more interested in doing cool
things with the computer. Unfor-
tunately, that perception is not
entirely correct. If you look at the
graphic arts industry and graphic
designers, they spend the majority
of time working with computers,
designing pages that could either
be printed or go to Web pages."
NAPL s work spans research and
consulting services to assist print-
ing companies to become leaders
in the industry.
Fenton, who was the guest
speaker at a two-day workshop
held at the Trade and Investment
Convention (TIC), at the Hyatt
Regency Trinidad hotel, Dock
Road, Port-of-Spain, spoke to
Business Guardian on trends in
the industry globally.
Asked what efforts have been
made to change the perception of
the industry, Fenton said: "There
is a problem with the perception.
We have seen it very clearly in the
United States and we ve tried a
number of different initiatives to
try to change the opinions of stu-
dents who are coming out of
"Most of the mass market media
campaigns that we ve tried to do
in the US have not been very suc-
cessful," Fenton said.
"What s been more successful
is to offer training programmes
earlier, like in high school to stu-
dents, get them involved in the
printing process, understand the
design and computer process and
it s a lot more successful if you
offer this earlier than if you try to
change the perception of the overall
Though there is decline in vol-
ume of material printed and in
profitability, Fenton does not
believe the global industry is
"There are people who prefer
to read on paper. In fact, students
still prefer paperbooks, they still
like to highlight, take notes in, turn
pages back, and even though some
schools are forcing them to adopt
e-books, still, a vast majority prefer
"There are companies which
offer large format sign printing,
and there are companies offering
mailing or design services, or vari-
able data printing services across
media market services. The simple
fact of the matter is that it doesn t
matter if the printer is in T&T,
Bermuda, Florida or anywhere, all
printers are struggling with
declines in demand and the prof-
itability crunch," Fenton said.
He commended companies in
T&T s printing industry for recog-
nising the need for training.
About Howard Fenton:
Fenton has been in the printing
and packaging industry for more
than 20 years.
"When I started in the industry,
there were no formal programmes
in this field---which we now call
desktop publishing---nobody really
knew much about it."
"I never completed any of my
graduate work. I went to college in
New York State, then I immediately
started my first career, which was
to be a neuroscientist. I continued
doing that for a couple of years
and decided I wanted to get into
"At the time, there weren t many
computers around. There were
Commodore computers. They were
difficult and cumbersome and
nobody liked using them. I was
pursuing a Phd at the time. Mac-
intosh computers were introduced
and it was a lot easier to use. I just
thought this was fun and I wanted
to learn how to use computer to
make a living."
In the United States, the printing
industry is the third largest industry
segment among manufacturers.
not unique to T&T
PHOTO: KEARRA GOPEE
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