Fresh teamwork

Manufacturing, tourism and agricultural to work more closely

Manufacturers, tourism operators and agricultural producers have agreed on working more closely for full use of Barbadian products, according to Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss.

He announced this pact, among three of the pillars of Barbados’ economy, as he extended congratulations to a local manufacturer celebrating its 70th anniversary over the weekend – Roberts Manufacturing Company Limited.

Speaking of a need to foster closer linkages among the three sectors and the talks held with them last week, Inniss said: “We’re certainly committed to this . . . . Out of those useful meetings, there is that agreement that the manufacturing, agriculture and tourism sectors will work closer together.”

He told a room full of mostly Barbadian manufacturers and suppliers, along with their employees and regional trading partners attending Roberts Manufacturing awards gala at the Hilton Barbados on Saturday night, that “it’s no sense having BMEX and showcasing all of the good products that we produce in Barbados, and then you go into the hotel sector and find they’re not available. It’s no sense asking people to travel from far afield to come to Barbados and get the Barbados experience and then they get the same meals that they get in New York or London, wherever”.

Turing to Roberts Manufacturing, Inniss said that from its humble beginnings in 1944, the company had housed and fed many families through employment and “the many backward and forward business linkages . . . resulted in the creation and growth of other local enterprises”.

“We celebrate not just a corporate entity that has been with us for 70 years, but more importantly, all that that is embodied in this company,” he added.

Barbados Manufacturing Association’s executive director Bobbi McKay expressed similar sentiments.

“Your beginning was a humble one, and I believe that this should be an inspiration to young entrepreneurs. We are seeing quite a number of talented young people entering the sector. I believe that your story gives some insight as to what is possible with hard work.”

Tracing the company’s history, managing director David Foster pointed out that what Roberts was celebrating went well beyond its 70 years as a company, and dated back to 1937 “when J.C. Roberts first formulated a washing soap in his backyard in Government Hill”.

“Today, Roberts Manufacturing has a committed workforce of 160 persons. Our sales now exceed $120 million and the majority of our products are exported throughout the CARICOM region. Exports are a significant part of our production, with sales in exports being $25 million,” Foster added.

Roberts Manufacturing employee for 35 years, Francis Dottin (left), receiving his Long Service Award from managing director David Foster.
Roberts Manufacturing employee for 35 years, Francis Dottin (left), receiving his Long Service Award from managing director David Foster.

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