Las-Bee making a sweet difference with honeySunday, November 17, 2019
BY ARTHUR HALL
Westmoreland-based entrepreneur Lascelles Smith wants to see local honey become as globally sought after as Blue Mountain coffee.
“My vision is to see locally-made honey become a world-class product. The demand is there globally so it's important to get other local players to produce honey of the highest standard and fill this demand,” said Smith, CEO and founder of Las-Bee Producers Limited.
He has been in the honey-making business for the past 13 years through his company and his company also offers training and management in agriculture as well as equipment to others in the business.
Smith got into honey after completing a two-year project with the Agriculture Department of the Ministry of Agriculture in Montpelier, St James.
As a teenager at Rusea's High School, he had hopes of going to university to become a lawyer, but because his parents couldn't afford it, he enrolled in a beekeeping programme organised by the Jamaica 4H Club.
“I think I actually fell in love with it [beekeeping] when I was a little boy. I had a neighbour who reared bees and I used to enjoy going onto his property to help him out,” said Smith.
Today, Smith has made a name for himself in the industry.
Las-Bee Producers has eight apiaries across five parishes, 12 team members and a factory in Negril dedicated to packaging. His honey is available in more than 30 locations islandwide.
Las-Bee honey is sold in three sizes, including a sachet for persons on the go.
“I found that a lot of persons were having their tea during their morning commute and so I came up with the idea for the sachets,” added Smith.
He also supplies players in the hospitality industry with the Las-Bee honey sachets and those are used to help contain wastage.
Smith has countless other ideas and new products set for the market.
“It's important to stay ahead of the pack and think outside of the box. I always ask myself: 'what can I do for my customers?', declared Smith who has a line of honey-based sauces, including honey barbecue, honey pineapple and hot pepper with honey.
Those products are expected to hit the local market next March. There's also a line of honey-flavoured bottled water coming soon.
He just completed training a group of persons aged 18 to 30 in beekeeping at the Grace Light Baptist Church on West End Road in Westmoreland where he operates his factory.
He also recently participated in the 17-week long Scotiabank Vision Achievers Programme, where he was named one of three winners.
The Scotiabank Vision Achievers Programme provides the owners of small-and medium-sized enterprises with an extensive range of capacity-building courses to improve the way they operate.
“When you are running a business like myself for so many years, you think you know it all; but while doing the programme, I realised, had I done this years ago, I would have been way ahead,” the honey-maker stated.
Smith also credited the programme for equipping him with valuable marketing skills that have enabled him to land an agreement with food giant, GraceKennedy.
He was also recently awarded a scholarship to pursue a short programme at the University of the West Indies as part of the JAMPRO Export Max programme.
“All of this was because of the exposure I got from the Scotiabank Vision Achievers Programme,” said Smith.