MAKING THINGS HAPPEN

Caribbean LED Lighting Inc., owner Jim Reid believes his manufacturing company is making an important contribution to a green culture, protecting the environment and saving money for clients and Governments.

 

Setting up a manufacturing business in the Caribbean seems like an awesome challenge for an International businessman. Why did you choose the Caribbean?

 

We chose the Caribbean because our research showed the region had the highest electricity costs in the world with the exception of Denmark. That meant there was a real need for the latest energy efficient technology and there was huge potential. The existing market also depended heavily on imported products and we knew we could achieve better results from manufacturing our products locally. Competition from imported products has followed, but we compete on quality, customer service and price so we offer tremendous value to our customers. 

With numerous islands to select from how did you settle on Barbados?

 

There were a number of considerations and we visited several other Caribbean locations, but the main reasons we settled on Barbados were the stable political situation, the good infrastructure and the availability of talented labour.  Also, it’s lovely place to live and do business! 

Your business is at the cutting edge of technology, but for the layman understanding LED lighting is something of a mystery. Can you explain the products involved and the benefits they offer?

 

LED Lighting has been around since 1962, but it has never been a viable product until recent times. Advances in LED technology has improved the performance and reduced the price of LED lighting bringing it within the reach of all consumers. Traditional light bulbs generate heat at the same time they generate light and are hot to touch, but LED lighting runs at room temperature and is obviously safer. However, the main advantage is long life and therefore huge savings. Most LED products have a minimum 50,000+ hours rating which means they could last for over 10 years depending on usage. This is not only a major saving for domestic users, but think of floodlights and the huge cost involved in setting up equipment to replace a relatively cheap bulb every time one expires.

Within four years you have established an impressive factory base and are currently exporting to 14 countries. Where are your overseas markets and is further expansion planned?

 

Our main market is the 14 countries of CARICOM and South America. However, we are also setting up a manufacturing plant in Canada to supply the North American market.  It will be self-sufficient and offer some employment opportunities for our Barbadian employees.

Understanding the culture of Caribbean business must have presented a few challenges in the early days. What did you find the most frustrating?

 

Although I recognized the laidback easy-going lifestyle as very enjoyable I didn’t fully appreciate the fact that is also prevalent in the workplace. There is a distinct lack of urgency within Caribbean business and Government, and it can be frustrating and counter-productive. As a result we have set our own standards and do not accept poor timekeeping. We place customer service at the top of our priorities. Our employees fully understand our philosophy and have willingly bought into the culture.  

Employment outside tourism related fields is limited in the Caribbean so any new manufacturing unit is very welcome. How many staff are employed and how have you been able to train them to the level of competency required?

 

We started with two employees and by March 2015 we passed 40 and continue to recruit. Our staff has been sent to various parts of the world to be professionally trained and as technology and business opportunities develop, we will continue this strategy to ensure they are experts in their field. Investment in training is essential to our success and enables us to adapt quickly to business opportunities.

Can the Caribbean LED Lighting Inc. business model be an inspiration to other aspiring Caribbean manufacturers and if so, how?

 

We have been very successful in our industry, but every business has its own objectives and challenges. Most can be overcome with focus, vision and application, but if there is one area that should be given the highest priority in any business it is customer service. Every business has to set a high standard and stick to it to improve the overall standard of working and doing business in the Caribbean.

 

What are the company’s medium and long-term goals?

 

We are very positive about the future and see more growth in energy efficient products and off grid energy solutions. The world has been too dependent on fossil fuels in the past and the public awareness of renewable energy and a green culture is pushing us towards a completely new world of energy saving, reduced costs, higher efficiency and a healthier lifestyle. Caribbean LED Lighting intends to play an important part in this process. 

 

BIO

 

Jim Reid is a native of Edinburgh, Scotland and completed his post-grad education in England and France. His business career has taken him to various parts of the world. He has held senior positions and Directorships in a variety of financial and technical companies and became involved in environmental change after he emigrated to Canada in 2003. He set up Caribbean LED Lighting Inc. in Barbados in 2011 and feels the company has an important role to play in creating a healthier and more efficient environment.

Jim can be contacted by telephone at 246 621 0092 or by email at

jreid@caribbeanledlighting.com

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