Facey Commodity's PBS extends Caribbean footprint

By Al Edwards

Friday, October 01, 2010

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Facey Commodity Company on Wednesday launched its document, technology and information technology arm, Productive Business Solutions (PBS) which now has operations in 14 Caribbean and Latin American countries.
PBS had its beginnings back in 2001 when its parent company Facey Commodity, one of the largest distribution companies in the Caribbean with annual revenues of US$1 billion, took over Xerox's distribution interests in Jamaica. From there it has set about extending its footprint across the region and is one of the few Jamaican companies to make a successful foray into the region.
In the words of PBS (Jamaica) General Manager John Burrowes: " Our company is ideally positioned as a leading provider of document technology and information technology to a customer base of many leading companies in the Caribbean and Central American region - serving, as we do, as the exclusive distributor of Xerox products in many Caribbean countries, and also representing other top brands such as Cisco, Datacard, Kodak and NCR. We intend to fully capitalise on an already strong positioning."
The company represents leading brands in, among other things, security, identification and card technology solutions - having the capability to, for example, manufacture IDs, access and phone cards and to provide identification and transaction processing equipment.
Speaking at the official launch of PBS which took place at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Tuesday, the CEO of Facey CommodityDr Nigel Clarke said: " From a base in Jamaica, through organic growth we have expanded throughout the region and today we are the leading provider of printing and IT services in over 14 countries in the Caribbean and Central America. When we acquired Xerox Jamaica in 2001, it was losing a lot of money and was saddled with bad debts and receivables. Our current chairman PB Scott proceeded to cut costs to go on the road to collect receivables and restored the operation to financial health."
Clarke further added that Mrs. Melanie Subratie served as PBS' first general manager , a role that served her well for her current post as deputy chairman of the parent company, Musson Group. It its first year of operation, Xerox was pleased with the fledgling company's performance which saw sales in the Jamaican market improving. This in turn led to an invitation to set up an operation in the Dominican Republic despite not being able to speak Spanish. In 2004, following a revaluation of the peso, PBS deemed it appropriate to enter the Dominican Republic market. That same year, PBS expanded to Aruba and Curacao, acquiring Xerox's operations there. In those countries it was able to serve the large banks and insurance companies.
The following year, PBS branched out to Barbados, a Caribbean country that has proved particularly challenging for Jamaican companies setting up shop there. Today the Facey Commodity company is the leading document management outfit in Barbados.
Late 2006 saw PBS acquire a majority stake in a company called Grupo de Photo which had operations in Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama. This move meant that PBS would have to embrace an unfamiliar culture and understand its business customs. It has managed to do so comfortably. In Guatemala, PBS has managed to digitise all the government's statutory records- births, deaths and marriage -- a notable feat for a Jamaican company.
In 2008, the company launched GPA in Miami, again deepening its relationship with Xerox. GPA distributes office products made by Xerox throughout the Caribbean and Central America. That same year, PBS extended its footprint to Nicaragua where it has signed a deal with the largest retailer in Central America where it is digitising its document needs.
Last year saw PBS enter Cayman which has one of the most vibrant financial sectors in the world . At the end of 2001, PBS's gross revenues were somewhere below US$1 million. Today it stands at US$140 million.
" We operate in fourteen territories in the Caribbean and Central America. This has allowed us to deliver best practices to our customers regardless of what industry they operate in. By the end of 2009 we have 14 disparate entities doing the same thing, servicing the same kind of customers with different systems and procedures, and if left unchecked would not allow either ourselves nor our customers to enjoy obvious synergies. There began a process of integration of the disparate operations. Today we celebrate the launch of a regional entity, and based on the business we do with Xerox we are one of their larger business partners in this hemisphere. We are confident that with Xerox's continued support, this growth will be surpassed in the decade to come," said Clarke.
Musson Group, founded by one of Jamaica's business titans, the late Desmond Blades, has become one of the region's leading corporations. Its new generation of senior executives, including Paul Scott, Nigel Clarke and Melanie Subratie, has imbued it with a greater degree of transparency and presence and has made it a force in the twenty-first century by employing sound management practices and exhibiting a willingness to enter new businesses. The Musson Group can no longer be considered a conservative distribution concern that is uncomfortable in the public spotlight. There is now a palpable ease coming from its management cadre who are regarded as the next generation of business leaders on the Jamaican corporate scene. Some of the Musson Group's more recent enterprises reveal a conglomerate seeking to be vertically integrated with many arteries going into the heart of the region's leading operations. It is one of the few Jamaican businesses to look beyond its shores and succeed in doing so where others have faltered and fared not so well. Musson has been able to enter a fragmented region and consolidate its business interests there by employing state-of-the-art technology and putting in place able management teams.It remains focused on organic growth , taking its opportunities as they come along.

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