windmill_pepersauce

Sweet Mauby Burns Like Tart Gingerbeer

Submitted by Dee Word

maubyI read the Nov 26th Nation article “A Miller’s tale…” on the company Windmill Products and was somewhat troubled that this once high-flying company was not currently a major […] international playergenerating oodles of forex in exports,

from licensing fees or from monies repatriated from overseas operations. As I read these comments from GM Peter Miller I cringed: “I’m 67 now, I want to put some young energy in the business. I think it needs that kind of refreshing.”  Equally troubling were the remarks, “about three years ago, I read in Entrepreneur Magazine that the pepper sauce industry in the United States is worth US$1 billion and it was growing at the rate of one per cent per year, so by now it must be worth nearly US$2 billion.”

Now consider that back in early 1990s when I was in and out of US, I recall many Bajans and Caribbean folks in general loved to get their seasoning condiments, pepper sauces and beverages like mauby. As the other products like the ginger beer and sorrel came on stream they too found favour with the expatriate groups. But beyond that any business operator back then appreciated that the US food business was always a huge opportunity for local businesses.  Huge.

Of course, as they say hindsight is 20-20 but I am truly amazed that this company (after all, they had some really good products) was unable to break into the big-time. According to Miller it appears as if it was not due to a lack of trying as he stated, “years ago, I attended the Zesty Food Show in Texas. … when this tall white Texas guy came to the booth”. As reported the man ‘showed him he had unique yellow pepper sauce’ gave him marketing advice that he should price it as a premium product and also ‘bought a case of the product’. So there was an opening. And some booming times: “We used to have a lot of markets in the Caribbean … that is gone mainly because of the difference in currency.”

Miller said, “I came back here, met with the right people, told them this thing could be big, … 40-foot containers with this stuff, but I never got the kind of financial assistance . You would have to go up there [in the United States] and set up properly”

So the question I would ask Mr. Miller is what stopped you from doing that? Or what about a partnership with a food manufacturer there for licensing or some other beneficial arrangement? Why now in 2015 is this entrepreneur of long-standing saying things like, “I want to put some young energy in the business… What Windmill wants is a refreshing and a relaunching. What we have depended on all the years is basically that people know the product and they love it.”

To put this in context, as I recall in his heyday and I presume at the height of opportunity to take his company to greater heights Mr.Miller spent time in local politics. So is it fair to say that he WASTED time in that endeavour. Should he have focused on convincing his Board of Directors (family) on this path about which he speaks still with passion and about infusing it with the youthful, skilled manager to help them attack the international markets, manage the currency risks and go after investment capital…or about building meaningful partnerships regionally and beyond?

Why is Windmill not a food processing/manufacturing colossus today making him and partners millionaires times over, establishing the Windmill brand with renown and providing awesome benefits to the local economy?

This looks to be a wonderful opportunity lost to interesting decision making and maybe political folly. A case-study of commercial potential only partially realized. I am completely flummoxed by this story and current status of a company that should be towering above all others particularly when one looks at the successful supermarket retail operations like that of Andrew Bynoe.  A company that saw its high-points evolve over a somewhat similar time frame.

It puts too into perspective the discussions about the successes of COW Construction, Williams Industries and all his other endeavours.  And companies like Rayside Construction faltering into ‘abeyance’.  The talent, skill and differentiated superior product is there and it can’t be about race; so is it simply lack of focus and ineffective management/family matters?

There is so much to this Windmill story left untold from that brief Nation article.  In fact I would suggest Mr. Miller does himself no favours with some of his comments (particularly re his Maths).  It would be great for other entrepreneurs to examine the lessons from Windmill Industries !

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49 Comments on “Sweet Mauby Burns Like Tart Gingerbeer”

  1. de Ingrunt Word November 26, 2015 at 7:46 PM #

    It would be interesting and informative to get feedback on what technical assistance or funding this company received from organizations like Caribbean Export and others similar which preceded it over the years

    How did trade-shows like BMEX and other events across and outside the region help it to grow?

    To understand the core question of what caused this company to be a laggard in 2015?

    Like

  2. adonijah November 26, 2015 at 8:15 PM #

    Sad to hear this story. When I was a student in London ’85-’86 I was overjoyed to go into a shop in Clapham and see Windmill pepper sauce. They also made a hot ketchup that was on sale there. Lessons in this.

    Like

  3. bajans November 26, 2015 at 10:50 PM #

    In Canada we have Jamaican pepper sauce and Trinidadian pepper sauce. Then, there is the Trinidadian “Bajan style pepper sauce”. I have seen people in the store picking it up and saying oh, this is good Bajan sauce. We had this on vacation and putting it in their carts.

    Like

  4. Simple Simon November 26, 2015 at 11:09 PM #

    I am still surprised that Bajan companies with really good products do not offer shares to the public. And do not rush to hire the brightest and the best of our youngsters.

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  5. Simple Simon November 26, 2015 at 11:10 PM #

    Ecaf anyone?

    Like

  6. NorthernObserver November 27, 2015 at 12:30 AM #

    There is another article, which I think explains their situation
    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/74748/windmill-industries-taking-fresh-guard

    Like

  7. Sargeant November 27, 2015 at 1:33 AM #

    The company was undercapitalized from the word go and I understand that in the early years the commercial Banks weren’t very accommodating it was run more like a cottage industry than a business that wanted to make their mark on the International front.

    Some products are regional e.g. Mauby as it doesn’t appeal to the North American palate and Hot sauce could be an acquired taste. Barbadians in North America may love some of the products but we shouldn’t overestimate the size of the Caribbean diaspora for these products.

    As for hot sauce Americans seem to prefer the “red” sauce like Tabasco I saw this segment on 60 minutes last year

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tabasco-fighting-bland-food-since-1868/

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  8. David November 27, 2015 at 2:52 AM #

    Many will not agree with BU but Miller’s business although private should have been categorized as strategic asset and given assistance. Businesses in the export sector should be ”managed” and the fact it would have become a symbol of entrepreneurial success adds to the equation.

    Like

  9. de Ingrunt Word November 27, 2015 at 2:56 AM #

    @Simple Simon November 26, at 11:09 PM…Certainly issuing shares is one option to pull financing into the company but it appears that 1) some Barbadian entrepreneurs are loathe to employ that tactic for fear of the unknown, 2) lack of sophistication on how best to go about the financing (and this has little to do with our embryonic stock market) or 3) they do not want to turn over any of their hard-earned efforts to others they see as less than worthy.

    @Northern, the article you cite provides some solid additional info and paints an even more discouraging image of the company operations and local manufacturing generally, considering that the owner of this company was at one time the Pres of the local manufacturing companies.

    Would it be racist or just provocative to say that based on the awesome platform, brand recognition and early entrez to the market Windmill enjoyed that in the hands of a Bizzy Williams that Windmill Industries would be a POWERFUL player and highly profitable company?

    I was moved to elicit commentary on this subject when I read the first article based on the volumes of critiques that were opined over the sell-out of Banks; over all the talk of the billions of Credit Union investment $$ that sit available and too the verbose remarks about race and businesses in Barbados.

    This too is a truly traditional Bajan company and brand and BLACK owned, and the situation is diametrically different – and worst – to that re Banks or BS&T.

    WHY so?

    As I mentioned previously, there are more questions here than the articles are providing.

    To me this is an absolute tragedy of local manufacturing. These products were too good and brand too well established for this to falter so badly.

    It definitely makes for an impactful UWI business school case-study.

    The BU denizens are less interested.

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  10. David November 27, 2015 at 3:02 AM #

    @De Word

    The failure of Miller’s business with all the funds and other assistance about exposes the system for what it is. Do you know Bajans buy many imported brands of what Wind mill sells with no serious thought to supporting Bajan? For businesses to be successful overseas it is thought a strong domestic performance is a requirement. We need to get it right.

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  11. de Ingrunt Word November 27, 2015 at 3:15 AM #

    @Sargeant, you are playing the right tunes but slightly off-key in one instance in my humble opinion.

    I agree completely re the lack of capitalization and cottage-industry mentality. But when one looks at the remark of blogger Adonijah who speaks of Windmill presence in ex-regional markets from as far bask as late 80s one realizes that early Windmill bosses were nimble and thinking expansively.

    What then caused that vision to not encompass financing , modernized production and too your very valid second point of ‘red sauces’, why did that expansive thinking not go on to include new products to satisfy the niche markets being exploited?

    That’s where I disagree with your tune. When you say “Barbadians in North America may love some of the products but we shouldn’t overestimate the size of the Caribbean diaspora for these products”, I remind you that the consumers of the Caribbean diaspora were the entrez…the early adopters who would spread the message.

    Condiments and sauces have always been a HUGE business in certain regional (down South) and then ethnic (Hispanics, Indian, Asian) segments of the US market. And in either niche even a 2% or 3% share would have made Windmill a virtual king-kong back home and established a broader base for continued success.

    I am not suggesting that it would have been a cake-walk as the US had just as many barriers to entry and – particularly for a company Windmill’s size – issues of satisfying the scale volumes needed to properly market such a product.

    But this is where you go grow up and become a man, so to speak. It appears Windmill was unable to get over that adolescent stage into manhood.

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  12. de Ingrunt Word November 27, 2015 at 3:34 AM #

    Yes David completely agree with your 3:02 AM post. In one or the articles Miller spoke about the plethora of other brands on the market now and thus the significant fall-off in his sales.

    That goes to your point of Bajans buying other stuff. I would say though that many of those other brands are other local players.

    And again you are spot on when you state “the failure of Miller’s business with all the funds and other assistance about exposes the system for what it is”. I vividly recall the many times exporting seasoning and pepper sauce. I also recall saying to myself that I hope that Windmill were gearing up with the BIDC etc to really go after the US and UK/Euro market segments because they started all these cooking shows and tendency towards niche premium products (aside: do Bajans understand that the green-nut water they take for granted on Sunday, is some bad-tasting Coco Water or such as a niche product in US locales).

    David, my recollections take me back also to getting gifts of ‘rum-cake’ in those cute packages for friends to give them a sample of a Bajan treat.

    My point is that Windmill was the grandfather and front-runner for all that sort of premium product manufacturing creation. They should have gone on to be dynamic player with their sauces and syrups as the fundamental perpetual money earners. Not reorganizing with less than 10 employees today.

    re, your 2:52 AM post, I accept the overall point of given assistance but I would disagree with the methodology you seem to be suggesting when you say ” … although private should have been categorized as strategic asset “.

    Because his was a private company any assistance should have been sought from private investors in addition to whatever technical, management or SB grant/loan he received.

    Like

  13. David November 27, 2015 at 3:38 AM #

    @Dee World

    re, your 2:52 AM post, I accept the overall point of given assistance but I would disagree with the methodology you seem to be suggesting when you say ” … although private should have been categorized as strategic asset “.

    Because his was a private company any assistance should have been sought from private investors in addition to whatever technical, management or SB grant/loan he received.

    Please do some research to determine how Rock Hard Cement which is owned by the Mark Maloney people is able to import and sell cement at a rock bottom prize for 10 marks.

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  14. de Ingrunt Word November 27, 2015 at 3:50 AM #

    @David, LOLLL. I never said that company’s are not labelled strategic and given ‘assistance’ in a manner that’s not truly righteous! I merely said what ‘should have been’ done in a true and proper capitalist market.

    Viva la socialismo de regalos gobiernos… as practiced by the local Bajan government..

    I think that bad Spanish is relatively well understood in English, yes!

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  15. de Ingrunt Word November 27, 2015 at 3:51 AM #

    that should read: I never said that companies…

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  16. Nostradamus November 27, 2015 at 7:58 AM #

    Wonder if Windmill ever sought and or received any assistance from Caribbean Export ?

    Like

  17. NorthernObserver November 27, 2015 at 11:50 AM #

    I felt in reading, the picture painted was one of a successful business where those in control allowed it to slide. They had (have) outdated production facilities and newer competition and were not expending significant effort. The CEO sees the need to reduce production costs and expand his product offering, and is considering subcontracting manufacturing. I was unsure if the financing sought was for new facilities, cash flow to support credit or for marketing or all three. He even contemplates a sale, but with declining sales and current manufacturing he is in the ‘screw position’. Meaning what Windmill has a brand name, a few formulas, and a few distribution channels which with sales have likely shrunk. In business parlance, the company has been milked for many years.
    The CEO by timeline, is the second generation, and no mention is made of the third? (or even potentially a fourth)
    Not mentioned, but Windmill possibly needs an influx of energy and desire?
    Your typical business turnaround strategy required.

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  18. Raw Bake November 27, 2015 at 12:11 PM #

    My memory could be failing so it is possible that my taste buds could be lying, but Windmill today is not the Windmill of yesterday, the yesterday that you all remember?

    Blame it on the quality of ingredients now, lost formulae or indifference of the beneficiaries; Windmill is just not the same.

    Simple Simon mentions ECAF. Now that company’s products have remained the same as far as I can remember, even if more expensive.

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  19. Donna November 27, 2015 at 12:19 PM #

    My cupboard is full of Bajan products. Windmill is no longer one of them That is Windmill’s fault. They did not keep up. Others are thriving. Wish them the best. Rise!

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  20. Donna November 27, 2015 at 12:19 PM #

    Got ECAF!

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  21. Raw Bake November 27, 2015 at 12:59 PM #

    Exactly!🙂

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  22. de Ingrunt Word November 27, 2015 at 1:15 PM #

    @Northern, I can only assume you are being exceedingly sarcastic to state: “Not mentioned, but Windmill possibly needs an influx of energy and desire? Your typical business turnaround strategy required.”

    A truly Bajan company as a symbolic twin birth with our Nation. A company that 20 years ago oasted of annual revenues of close to $3M now speaks of $500K annually in sales with “the same infrastructure, the same overheads”.

    A truly Bajan black owned company that had products on the shelves of businesses in England in the 1980s and today a Bajan can say “My cupboard is full of Bajan products. Windmill is no longer one of them”.

    A truly Bajan company that clearly had the same vision, talent and verve that infused the WI team that started its small steps towards success in the 60’s just as Windmill also started its journey … and just as apparently became afflicted with the same apathy and lack of conviction of the current WI team.

    And you can so glibly state ‘your typical business turnaround strategy required’. Fah real!

    I am not trying to be an expert after the fact but surely this is a sad and symbolically painful failure as we move into our 50th anniversary.

    Like the WI team this is absolutely not about any typical strategy. That should have been done YEARS ago.

    I salute Mr Miller for his conviction to try again.

    Maybe despite the very aggressive current business climate he can do now what his management team could not do before. The business world is not normally that forgiving but I wish him well.

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  23. Simple Simon November 27, 2015 at 2:45 PM #

    @David November 27, 2015 at 3:02 AM ” Bajans buy many imported brands of what Wind mill sells with no serious thought to supporting Bajan?”

    @de Ingrunt Word November 27, 2015 at 2:56 AM “they do not want to turn over any of their hard-earned efforts to others they see as less than worthy.”

    Tell me if I am getting this right. My money is good enough to buy your product, but not good enough to buy shares in your company?

    I have just one question.

    WHY?

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  24. Simple Simon November 27, 2015 at 2:55 PM #

    @NorthernObserver November 27, 2015 at 11:50 AM “The CEO by timeline, is the second generation, and no mention is made of the third? (or even potentially a fourth)
    Not mentioned, but Windmill possibly needs an influx of energy and desire?”

    Maybe, just maybe the third and fourth generation have had it too easy. Ideally the energy and desire should come from them. It is their company ain’t it?

    At some point the principals of a family company have to decide if the younger members of a family have the energy and desire to keep a company going. If they do not then sell the damn company before it loses value.

    Like

  25. Simple Simon November 27, 2015 at 2:59 PM #

    Heard of another still successful local company recently where the younger family members [who have been raised in considerable ease] are content to live home at ma with into their forties and to come to work at 10 o’clock.

    Capitalism ensures that such companies die.

    If the youngsters have no passion for the business, go public, or sell to someone else with passion. There are always buyers willing to snap up successful companies.

    Like

  26. Hants November 27, 2015 at 3:31 PM #

    Windmill is a family owned business. Their products were very good.

    Their pepper sauce was my favorite ( which I enhanced with fresh tumeric ).

    Products made in Barbados are suffering in the Canadian market because of the exchange rate. cad $1.00 = bds$1.50

    Like

  27. millertheanunnaki November 27, 2015 at 3:48 PM #

    @ Hants November 27, 2015 at 3:31 PM
    “Products made in Barbados are suffering in the Canadian market because of the exchange rate. cad $1.00 = bds$1.50”

    Does that also apply to the tourism product?

    How come the reverse is not true in Barbados? Bajans like to buy expensive “cheap” things as long as they are imported. The more expensive the whisky, brandy and vodka in Barbados the more these drinks are sought after.

    High end, high quality goods and services are not affected by exchange rates or price movements.

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  28. David November 27, 2015 at 4:10 PM #

    Windmill epitomizes how family own business have fared over the years, from Husbands to NE Wilson.

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  29. millertheanunnaki November 27, 2015 at 4:20 PM #

    BS&T,
    Brydens Stokes & Bynoe,
    Courtesy & McEnearney
    BL&P,
    Banks,
    And soon Windmill.

    Which next?
    GAIA??

    Like

  30. NorthernObserver November 27, 2015 at 4:40 PM #

    @DIW
    My intent was to be neither sarcastic nor glib. I see business, without emotion.
    I too encourage the CEO, and wish him the best in his efforts. Yet, that doesn’t make it any more or less of a business turnaround? Their history while relevant from a historical perspective, does not alter their current situation, other than provide the confidence it has been done before.

    @SS
    you may note the GEL crew ceased hiring family shortly after going public in the 70’s. It’s been many years since even one member was an employee. And it wasn’t like if they didn’t have more than a few with the education.

    Like

  31. Hants November 27, 2015 at 4:53 PM #

    @ millertheanunnaki,

    The only thing that will increase the number of Canadians vacationing in Barbados is if the BTMI effectively targets the rich Canadians.

    We brek !!!!!

    http://business.financialpost.com/news/economy/debt-load-has-many-canadians-living-on-the-edge-with-high-housing-prices-largely-to-blame-report

    Like

  32. de Ingrunt Word November 27, 2015 at 5:29 PM #

    @David at 4:10 PM. Interesting perspective. You had a blog recently on ‘Remembering Our History’ so maybe in that same context others can recount the names of Bajan companies formed before and within these last 50 years which are at least 10 years old that are still in business.

    There are a few above and in the two you named which have faltered it’s interesting both are black owned.

    I was hopeful to generate more input from bloggers on this subject considering the significance of Windmill Industries.

    Why did Windmill falter so badly? Is in endemic to our small island constraints or is it much more than that.

    I am sure there are those out there who have worked at BIDC. were involved in BMA, SBA, the BMEX trade-show and so on who can offer instructive insight with anonymity or in full view.

    Obviously some serious stuff went down at the company which frankly may be well outside the scope or ‘normal’ business issues. But it puts into very clear perspective that success or failure is based on many variables so when we condemn the BS&Ts, Goddards and Banks we still need to step back and appreciate the actions that brought success.

    I notice that Money Brain posted a link re Windmill Industries but he has not given any opinion here…and he does not normally puree his words!

    And @Northern, I was trying to stress that Windmill’s turn-around strategy should have started several years ago.

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  33. NorthernObserver November 27, 2015 at 5:38 PM #

    @Hants
    LOL…that has always been the case. Recall, Canada has a new PM, who is going to raise taxes for the top1% and thereby help the “middle class”.
    That is one ‘big-ass’ middle class!!!
    There is no shortage of sun/sand destinations. And BIM once a haven of safety has lost that benefit. For the avg tourist, it is a ‘once in a lifetime place to go’.

    Like

  34. NorthernObserver November 27, 2015 at 6:06 PM #

    @DIW
    I apologise for missing your point. That is a BGO (blinding glimpse of the Obvious).

    What you need to appreciate is the demise of family operations is rarely attributed to skin colour but to effort. Ole man Miller worked hard. So did the current CEO…at first. Then he had bigger fish to fry. The business if you will got put on the ‘back burner’. Now he’s reached point X, otherwise known as ‘shit or get off the pot’.

    Where shit=sell and get off the pot=rejuvenation. Any young aggressive person should be knocking down his door. Don’t worry bout money, you can structure a buyout over time.

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  35. de Ingrunt Word November 27, 2015 at 8:52 PM #

    @Northern, re “…Any young aggressive person should be knocking down his door. Don’t worry bout money, you can structure a buyout over time.”

    POINT, well and clearly taken. Well said!

    Like

  36. David November 28, 2015 at 7:27 AM #

    There is no secret to what has contributed to the demise of Windmill. The fact Peter Miller gave priority to getting involved in politics paints a story. Also like NortherObserver observed, where is the next generation of Millers? Why not bring in an equity partner long time ago when the trend lines suggested it made business sense?

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  37. ac November 28, 2015 at 8:00 AM #

    Look the golbal market can be unforgiving , There are many shyster who can duplicate any product and sell it at a lower price ,
    Windmill might have been caught by the dragnet of the new breed of entrepreneur who can use the technological age to divert attention from a well known brand refocus the consumer on a similar brand product at a cheaper price with almost a similar taste,

    Like

  38. David November 28, 2015 at 8:06 AM #

    @Dee Word

    Not trivializing your concern which should be one shared by All Barbadians, especially Black owned. We appear not able to sustain family businesses to second and third generations.

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  39. de Ingrunt Word November 28, 2015 at 8:18 AM #

    @David at 7:27 AM, your remarks capture the situation well and in the context of the riveting debates you have sponsored here recently I anticipated a further strong introspection. But maybe it has all been said before.

    We talk of being such an educated populace in the same breath as saying Bajans are not investment/stock market savvy and even as we laud the successes of the credit union movement. What contradictions!

    I agree that a 20-20 hindsight appears to show why Windmill failed.

    I recall that on these pages a blogger was very critical of another’s decision to sell off his business which according to the discussion enabled it to continue as a successful going concern. I anticipate that similarly vexatious remarks would have been made if old man Miller has made a similar decision even if the company was now soaring .

    The point David as stressed on these pages before is that being as small as we are there will definitely be a need to partner with our bigger cousins or whomever in order to be viable in larger markets.

    The FIRST business course done for a university management/business related degree will invariably include the basics of how family owned companies need to evolve. The fact that Windmill Industries still fell into this hole is obviously an interesting but ultimately oft heard tale of family squabbles, lost of focus etc.

    Thus this looks like a clear case of a self-fulfilling prophecy to see this family owned company in this state.

    As noted Peter Millar’s foray into politics to the apparent detriment of the company appears to have been a bad decision but that presumes many things which may be absolutely inaccurate.

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  40. Alvin Cummins November 28, 2015 at 4:35 PM #

    @ David, and de urgent word.
    Grunt word, I agree with your sentiments.
    David,
    Why must we continue “family” owned businesses? If we have a company that is successful, the important thing is for the company to grow. Our manufacturers have a very bad attitude to marketing their products. They SELL their products. They do not MARKET their products so as to increase their SALES. They do not DIVERSIFY, neither do they seek to engage in meaningful RESEARCH, INNOVATION, and DEVELOPMENT. They do not do market research in the diversification of their product. For example, after all these years of production, have Windmill products produced any of their products in small packages like you get in Ketchup packages in the fast food outlets? We have 13 or 14 Che fette outlets. I will bet you that not one of them carry small packages of Windmill hot sauce. All it would need is the purchase of a packaging machine to produce those sizes. Has Windmill investigated the marketing of its products; even as promotional products, to the airlines to enhance the taste of the products now sold as sandwiches on the airplanes? Every airplane carries to to three hundred passengers each trip. Consider advertising benefits. If you go into any west Indian store in Toronto, I defy you to find a complete line of Windmill products. You will get an occasional container of Aunt May’s seasonings. You will get Bajan Style Pepper sauce out of Costa Rico or Santo Domingrunnings-o. You will get lots and lots of Jerk Products, or seasonings-like Cool Runnings out of Jamaica, but no Windmill products. YOU WILL EVEN GET ROSE &LA FLAMME SYRUPS, BUT WINDMILL IS SUPERIOR (OR WAS) IN TASTE.And talking of Jamaica, many years ago when I posited the idea that because of the numbers of Golden Apples produced er tree, we should explore the possibility of growing more and exporting them I was asked-with lots of scorn- “who you think going buy them”? Jamica exports them, not as Golden Apples, but as “June Plums” the Jamaican name for them. Up here every No frills store sells them, as well as Ginger, Aloes (the leaves) Yams, sweet potatoes, dasheen and avocados. Do you know you can go into a West Indian store and buy Jamaican “Johnny cakes”, what we call bakes in Barbados, nicely packaged and labelled. Some weeks I saw an article in Barbados Today about a lady making and selling Condiments. They could,and should be researched (including markets) and packaged nicely and markets, other than the local market, sought. It may not be easy but it can be done.
    Why is it that up to now Windmill Products have not offered shares to the public? Instead of waiting for government handouts, why have they not sought equity financing? There are so many negatives available as to why something CANNOT work that we don’t look at, or investigates the positives as to why something will work. Why has Windmill not investigated the possibility of working with farmers in Guyans; or even looked at the possibility of buying or leasing land in Guyana to produce their raw material; peppers etc.
    Why is it that a country that has produced sugar for over three hundred years does not have ten packages of its sugar (brown) on ANY supermarket shelf in ONTARIO-never mind the rest of CANADA? IT IS SO EASY TO SHIP BULK SUGAR AND SIT BACK. NO MARKETING INVOLVED. CAN’T COMPETE. MANUFACTURERS IN BARBADOS HAVE TO GET UP OFF THEIR ASSES AND WORK. MARKETING INVOLVES WORK. DO IT.

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  41. Exclaimer November 29, 2015 at 9:01 AM #

    @ DeeWord,

    This is an excellent article. The economic demise of Windmill a company approaching her fiftieth anniversary is a metaphor for the decline of our nation – Barbados. Alvin Cummins (the elder) is spot on with his analysis as to why the Windmill brand fortune and her reputation has ebbed away.

    The sweet smell of our independence some fifty years ago emboldened a number of our young men and women to set up their own businesses. They had a desire to make headway in a country that had enchained them and their ancestors over a period of three hundred fifty years.

    It was inevitable that that the first generation of Negro businessmen and women – post-independence – were focussed and determined to make a success of their business enterprises. Their motivation was to leave a valuable asset or baton to pass on to their off-spring.

    That so many black businesses are in decline or have become marginalised does not surprise me. That first generation of black entrepreneurs must have passed away convinced that their off-spring would have grown their businesses by seeking new markets, becoming innovative and making the right business decisions.

    What did this second generation dynasty achieve? I would say very little. This second generation lacked any real business acumen. They were only interested in the fruits of having a successful business. In other words: having plenty of money in their pockets. For those individuals this meant buying land and building a big house; sending their off-spring to the best private schools; living the material lifestyle, whilst hoping that their cash-cow enterprise would continue to automatically generate an income.

    Dee Word, sadly the Negro man is the author of his own self-destruction, both on our island and throughout our region. We as a people do not value our assets: sand, sea and sky. Neither do we value our produce and the various cottage industries surrounding them. We as a people are very uncomfortable with the sense of being an independent nation. This is why we will remain forever marginalised.

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  42. ac November 29, 2015 at 9:27 AM #

    A lot of what is being said here is true , But also a lot of black businesses are beaten and eating away by mass global competition. Along with marketing strategies that retool and reworked formulas that can sell at a cheaper rate.
    Across the globe black bushiness are the first causalities of global competition. With the great giants like Walmart black business world wide do not have a chance for survival especially if they sell a product that is widely known in household across the global e,g condiments and pepper sauce,
    Thankfully puddin and souse has not yet gone global but who knows who would be the next wide eye entrepreneur to seize the opportunity to prepackage and sell it in the global market under another name making it another product that becomes familiarize and one that visitors would not have an appetite to try when visiting the island,

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  43. de Ingrunt Word November 29, 2015 at 10:21 AM #

    I don’t want to stir up a hornet’s nest but a reality check is needed on the recent ‘black business’ comment.

    First up, when spoken in the context of Barbados that has a 90%+ black population it certainly demands attention that white owned businesses appear to be the bigger, better capitalized, move on from generation to generation, expand and develop and are more successful in their segments and successful in numbers disproportionate to the population.

    Appears, as I do not have hard details.

    That said, let’s also understand that the problems associated with Windmill as it relates to what Exclaimer phrases as “What did this second generation dynasty achieve? I would say very little..” is certainly not specific to companies whose owners are Black. That problem afflicts family owned operators of all hues.

    And Messrs AC, the colossus that is WalMart (revenues of over $450B, employing over 2 million people, imports from China as far back as 2006 of $26B) catspraddles companies big, small, black, white and brown.

    Thus it’s a easy to cite Walmart as the reason for any company’s demise – they can cause countries to collapse; so you may be able to understand why I consider it overkill for you to cite that grand ocean liner in the same breath about a pebble off Brandon’s Beach being lost – if you get my drift-wood here!

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  44. ac November 29, 2015 at 10:51 AM #

    NO ! NO ! the fact is that in an era gone by the small man was king in his own market . that was then but this is now ,
    The world has shifted from under the ground which the small had claimed to be his leaving a huge gap which must must be filled in.
    Stating that passing the baton to newer generation who has refused ownership is a simple and miscalculated assumption based mainly on hindsight and over reach
    Reality must be the key in conclusions firstly by seeing that Barbados even being a small dot lives and thrives in a vast land of global competition where the big fish (conglomerates) has taken over which means that the smaller business swims and thrives in an ocean swimming against a riptide of conglomerates which makes it harder to survive,
    Dee igrunt your counter argument to my comment pertaining to Walmart is sufficient proof which clearly indicates that the financial equivalence of a walmart to that of windmill is no competition for a small business to fight against and a clear indication that be it Walmart or for argument sake A black conglomerate the difficulties for the small business would be the same when applied to over come

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  45. David November 29, 2015 at 10:53 AM #

    What nonsense is this?

    It is a fact 65% of Barbados market is SME.

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  46. ac November 29, 2015 at 11:17 AM #

    Fact , being truth! but how of the small nations would give preferential treatment in the promoting of another product over their self interest
    Which brings the issue back to relevancy / importance /and mechanisms when applied , Who has the big stick and who is doing the measuring.

    Like

  47. NorthernObserver November 29, 2015 at 2:47 PM #

    @AlvinC
    The first part of your post is excellent. Several positive thoughts, some of which might actually work.

    Windmill is not a public firm or one owned by the GOB, the private owners are free to do as they wish, even though some posters seem to think it is a national institution.

    Background: Spirits are sold exclusively in Canada via provincially owned and operated bodies. The profits go the government coffers. The LCBO (Ontario version) has 4 rums listed from Barbados. Anybody care to name them?

    Mount Gay, you all got that one, even though it is now owned by ferners.
    Pussers. Plantation, and Blue Chair Bay. I know you axing, who dem?
    https://www.pussers.com/ to get that story.
    Plantation is more interesting, because a French spirit house Cognac Ferrand obviously buys bajan rum, ships and blends/bottles it in France, and then ships it off to Canada and other global locations.
    Blue Chair Bay fascinates me the most, because years ago I approached the WI Rum Refinery about bottling me a white rum for the Ontario market. Apart from telling me the LCBO are tough to do business with (which maybe true), I got a long song and dance about how many requirements the said LCBO had on how white rum was to be blended, aged and filtered. Yet here they are bottling a white rum which somehow qualifies for sale in Ontario.
    Blue Chair Bay btw, is the marketing arm of Country & Western singer Kenny Chesney, following in the footsteps of the other legend Jimmy Buffet who has bars, rum, beer and footwear under his Margaritaville and LandShark brands.

    This begs the question why none of the Cockspurs or R.L.Seale or other brands attempt this market. For those who don’t know, white rum is the largest selling spirit in all North America, dominated by Bacardi. And for comparison, and this maybe off slightly, Guyana has 7, T&T has 8 and Jamaica has 3 known brands listed.

    Part at least goes back to Alvin’s comment, bajans tend to be crappy marketers, beyond their home shores. Maybe Windmill can be excused for not possessing the people power, but Cockspur is loaded down with high priced talent. Potentially in their defence, I have heard Cockspur made a bad deal years ago with spirit powerhouse Diageo, and this ‘ties their hands’. But the others?

    When some French firm can buy bulk rum, ship it to france, cut it and blend it there, then bottle it, and turn around and ship it to NAmerica? And Bajans cant ship it direct and compete??

    Like

  48. NorthernObserver November 29, 2015 at 2:51 PM #

    I forgot. the LCBO sells basic white rum and 5yrs or less aged amber rum at the SAME price!!! White rum isn’t the cheaper alternative as found in most Caribbean islands.

    Like

  49. Alvin Cummins November 30, 2015 at 7:57 PM #

    @Northern,
    Thanks for your kind words. It irks mw when I think of Bajan products not on our supermarket shelves. How long has Banks been producing Tiger Malts? We only started getting them up here a few years ago, after BS&T (WHICH INCLUDED BANKS) was bought out by Massey, that Banks Tiger Malts began appearing in No Frills, and now West Indian stores and Skyland (a Chinese supermarket). Why has it taken so long? Where are Barbadian Products at trade shows, or other consumer product shows? Have any of our producers; Rum for instance, approached top of the line Restaurants (really top the line) and entered into, or solicited, negotiations with them to produce specialty, rums, or liqueurs exclusive to that particular establishment. How many people outside of Barbados know of Falernum? It is a fine liqueur, that can be marketed as a specialty (unique-because I don’t think it is made anywhere else but in Barbados) drink, or addition to other drinks. Marketers, manufacturers, here is an opportunity for a niche market.
    We now have the Rum Wine and Food Festival. Has anyone thought of ending our young chefs-duelling schools champions- to show off how to utilize our produce to good effect?
    Oh well, Alvin goes on too long.

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