Commendable big thinking by GSRJ and National Baking Company
Like the principals of German Ship Repair Jamaica Limited (GSRJ) we looked on with pride as their first client, the heavy-lift vessel
The following morning our delight doubled as we listened to National Baking Company Chairman Mr Gary “Butch” Hendrickson giving details of his company’s $6.7-billion state-of the-art bakery being built at Catherine Hall in Montego Bay which, he said, will be equipped with advanced technology rivalling any similar factory on Earth.
These two developments are excellent examples of the big thinking, in terms of investment projects, that we have been advocating in this newspaper for several years.
The US$37-million floating dry dock, established in partnership with Sagicor Group Jamaica and other local entities, has certainly given Jamaica a golden opportunity to tap into the lucrative global ship repair industry which was valued at US$34.60 billion in 2022 and is projected to increase to US$45.70 billion by 2029.
The facility has the capacity to accommodate vessels up to 20,000 gross tonnage and up to 215 metres in length. It provides a range of structural, mechanical, electrical and hydraulic services for customers from the pool of 3,000 commercial vessels that come to the Jamaica’s ports annually.
Immediately on the departure of the Mexican Giant, a second client, the Vikrant Dolphin, a diving support barge, entered the dry dock and is now being serviced.
Certainly Mr Charles Johnston, who was last year invested with the Order of Jamaica for his outstanding contribution to Jamaica’s shipping and logistics industry, and his German colleague Captain Peter Harren — who both worked for years on having the dry dock here — must be commended for this facility. For, as an official of the company correctly said, it signals “the start of a new era of excellence in ship repair and conversion and maintenance services in the region”.
In the case of National Baking Company’s new plant, we note that it will create employment for at least 75 highly skilled Jamaicans initially.
The 120,000-square foot plant, Mr Hendrickson said, will improve efficiency and open new opportunities for the company to meet the demands of its growing international markets.
It will have the capacity to produce more than 3,600 loaves an hour; will utilise computer-aided equipment controlled by advanced software that will handle the more laborious tasks in the baking business.
“This will allow our management to focus on quality, plant efficiency and, most important, the well-being of our team,” Mr Hendrickson said.
He also told us that the candidates for the 75 jobs that will be created at the start will undergo extensive training in processes and equipment operation as he intends for the bakery to have US Food and Drug Administration approval from day one, thus ensuring that its products will meet safety standards for sale in the vast US market.
More entrepreneurs, and indeed the Government — which must continue to create the environment for these types of investments — need to follow GSRJ and National Baking Company’s lead. Thinking big, and acting on that thinking will redound to Jamaica’s benefit.