Omni sets sail new Panama order in January, eyes Guyana
Thermoplastics manufacturer Omni Industries will set sail a second batch of beverage crates to Panama in January, a purchase order that has Managing Director Patrick Kumst optimistic that the company has successfully won over its first client in the Central America region.
Omni Industries has for years done some amount of business in the Caricom region, but the company exceeded its own expectations last year when it made its first shipment of crates valued at US$2 million to a client in Panama.
“Last year we hit a milestone and exported beverage crates to Panama. It was a milestone for us because it broke the Caricom barrier; we didn’t think we were competitive enough to hit Central America and sure enough we did. I’m happy to say that our customer is giving us a second order that we will be supplying in January,” Kumst told the Jamaica Observer.
The new order is valued just shy of US$1 million.
Before making inroads into Central America, Omni was supplying markets such as St Lucia, St Kitts, Barbados and St Martin with its standard crates which hold 24 bottles. Panama aside, Omni’s business outside of Jamaica currently contributes some $100 million or roughly 5 per cent of its annual revenues at $2 billion.
The export potential, however, could be as much as $400 million annually, Kumst said, and that’s just for the crates division of the business which also deals in the production of garden hoses, PVC pipes, industrial buckets and plastic housewares items.
Omni is applying learnings from its new Panama deal to aggressively seek market share in new countries such as Guyana to improve its top line. It also wants to deepen its foothold in the existing Barbados market.
“We haven’t been putting a lot of effort into the export business, but recently we took the decision to change that focus. We have more than enough capacity to supply all of the local demand and the excess capacity we expect to export,” Kumst said.
He is currently in talks with potential clients in Guyana after taking a trip to the country that is poised to become the world’s fourth-largest offshore oil producer, placing it ahead of Qatar, the United States, Mexico and Norway.
The oil boom is expected to generate billions for the company and while changing the business landscape.
“We started talks in Guyana about a month ago. It’s not an easy road, and I think a trip down there was necessary because people like to do business face to face,” Kumst said.
Omni’s renewed focus on its export business comes amid plans by the company to expand into new product lines, including bread trays and motor oil buckets. Both are products Omni also wants to push into the Caricom region, ultimately chipping into imports from the United States and Canada.
“We will be the only manufacturer of bread trays in the Caricom region so that also presents huge opportunities for us,” the MD said.
An expansion of its plant is expected to get underway near year to facilitate the new ambitions of the 49-year-old company.