Birthed from a small family-owned business at a busy intersection along the Southern Main Road, Couva, New Wave Marketing (NWM) has morphed from a distribution enterprise to one of TT's leading medium-sized manufacturers. The company, which makes industrial PVC pipes, won the 2018 TT Manufacturers Association's (TTMA) manufacturer of the year award.
NWM managing director Jaio Ramkissoon recently took a contingent from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, which included Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, the TTMA and media on a tour of the company’s facility at Calcutta, Couva. The facility sits on five acres of land and employs 55 permanent staff who work eight-hour shifts from Monday to Friday.
Ramkissoon said the business was formed in 1983, staffed by his parents and brothers. While his brothers chose to remain in the hardware sector, he ventured into distribution and eventually became a wholesale distributor for pipes made by local manufacturers.
“At one point in time I said I would not be a manufacturer, if my children want they can, but I think there is something you have to do at some time because of the changes in other people. So, we decided to go into manufacturing when the company I used to distribute for decided to do some changes in their company, and those changes were not relevant to our investments so we made the decision to go into manufacturing.” He said since that decision was made in 2018, the company has not only achieved National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certification, which is the gold standard for food safety, but also took the decision to expand its facilities by bringing in state of the art equipment from China.
Overall, he estimates he's invested TT$30-40 million in the company. NSF International (formerly known as the National Sanitation Foundation) is an independent, non-profit organisation based in the US that certifies food service equipment and ensures it is designed and constructed in a way that promotes food safety.
He said the NSF performs three unannounced audits annually on the company’s premises, and its inspectors will “write up” a company if they are kept waiting for more than 30 minutes or if they are not allowed access to a plant.
He said random internal testing of pipes and other equipment is done on every shift to ensure they meet international standards. The company is required to import certified raw materials for the manufacturing process from the US to ensure its continued certification.
Ramkissoon said with its expansion into the regional markets such as St Kitts, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, it has begun to earn forex.
Among the difficulties faced in the industry, he said, is that the company is locked in a "price war” with the other local manufacturers.“We are a new manufacturer so we are facing a price war that we happen to manage and continue to manage with the local competitors. But this is something expected so we are hoping we will weather to through no matter how long it takes.”
Meanwhile, Gopee-Scoon said she was “quite pleased” with the factory and its operations and sees a great future for the company, even pledging to give assistance with access to foreign exchange.
“What we are impressed by in particular is your standards, the NSF 14 and 61 which deals with toxicity and structure, and also you satisfy the American standards for testing so this means you are really world-class. Also selling to WASA, the competition is there but I know with your up-to-date equipment you can mass produce at a faster rate and that you can certainly have your products out there for consumption in the rest of the region."