Fleetwood paving the way for brighter future
Incorporated in 1971, Fleetwood Jamaica Limited has for more than 50 years grown to become a leading manufacturer and distributor of globally recognised home improvement and personal care products. The company’s management, however, now more focused on pushing its long term growth agenda, has been busy working to position the business as a market disruptor.
First led by brothers Connor and Brian Doyle from Ireland, the company initially commenced operations with the manufacturing of paint brushes, but has within the last few decades added rollers, wall fillers, and mops in addition to its distribution of a wide range of household items, including brooms, dust shovels, mop buckets, and clothes pins.
Following a merger of its operations with Orion Limited in 2002, under the leadership of new owner and businessman Peter Cleare, who purchased the business from the Doyles in 1985, the consolidation of both entities saw the entity becoming a leaner and more efficient operation, despite some setback after a devastating fire at the Orion factory.
Fleetwood, which began to reap significant success under Cleare’s stewardship after landing and managing the local production of a long list of international brands such as Charlie Perfume, PineSol, Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen lotion and the Jean Nate line, saw its products move into a number of international markets, straight up until 2016 when there was change in management and Richard Coe, the current managing director, joined the company as general manager.
Coe, after officially acquiring the company in 2019 and assuming the lead role, later transferred the ownership and assets of Orion Sales into Fleetwood, also adding Orion Manufacturing as a branch of the company. The entity which under the leadership of Coe continued to witness strong growth also renewed its focus on exports, a move which to date, he said has been significantly helping the business to realise increased revenues year on year.
With its Orion subsidiary becoming the official local distributor for Revlon Inc’s haircare line, this sees the company, aside from its flagship Zimmi haircare brand, now carrying the Crème of Nature, Lottabody, Roux and Revlonissimo brands, which account for some of the biggest names in black haircare products globally.
Fleetwood, having also secured the trademark and ownership for the hugely successful anti-dandruff Top Brass line of products in 2022, has also been doing well with positively adding to the bottom line of its business as a result of its addition.
“While Fleetwood, in its 50-year journey, has endured many adversities, the company’s management and staff have risen to every challenge to make Fleetwood the success it has become today,” Coe said to the Jamaica Observer.
Lauding the work and vision of his mentor and successor Cleare, who paved the way for growth, Coe said that, despite the challenges, those early efforts have played a critical role in laying the groundwork for management “to make a great company even greater”.
“Fleetwood was like a beautiful old house — great bones, but needed some work to bring out its best features,” he said, indicating that it was the unlocking of a new wave of ideas, energy, and effort that was later engaged to move operations into the modern era. Equally, the company, through its network of more than 80 employees and hundreds of customers along with its control of market shares for a number of brands, has been actively working to make a name for itself, offering quality service whilst bringing new and innovative products for its many customers.
“As this resilient team looks ahead, management continues to implement changes to pave the way for an even brighter future — implementing improved processes, modernising operations, and undergoing a digital transformation,” he further told the Business Observer.
Citing the novel coronavirus pandemic and its associated challenges among some of the roughest times for the manufacturers the world over, Coe said the entity, having managed to come out unscathed, is even more bullish for the future.
“Many companies did not survive the pandemic, but I am proud to say that the work we had put in placed us in good stead to have weathered that storm and any to come,” he stated.
Following large solar investments in 2021, the manufacturing company — which as a result has been able to cut its energy cost by some 40 per cent — is adamant that it will, in navigating the next half-century, be better able to reap success, especially as it invests further to become 100 per cent independent of fossil fuel energy by the end of 2024, ultimately reducing cost for its business and consumers.
“I feel very optimistic about the future for Fleetwood’s growth… it truly feels like the sky is the limit. We currently export to several islands within the Caribbean, but we feel that there are significant opportunities to further expand our footprint regionally and internationally along our home improvement and personal care lines. We continue to see strong growth in our haircare and skincare lines, specifically Zimii and international best-seller Top Brass, and we are working on brand new products within these lines later this year. We are also actively looking for businesses to acquire where there are synergies and opportunities to further diversify our product offering while optimising production efficiencies,” Coe said of the outlook.