– spices and condiments doing well on Caribbean, US markets
Peppy’s, arguably, is one of the better examples of a local manufacturing entity on the rise, having survived the ravages of a devastating fire and the many and varied challenges confronting the manufacturing sector as a whole.
Khalil Mohamed, the company’s managing director, is the second of eleven siblings. At 21, he took control of the family firm after his father, Ishmael Mohamed, died.
The elder Mohamed had been encouraged to invest in the manufacturing sector by Mr Lam who had already made a name for himself as the manufacturer of the well-known Lam’s brand of noodles.
The firm that is now known as Peppy’s was originally established in 1971 as Mohammed’s Manufacturing Enterprise. It began as a small factory on Sussex Street, Albouystown producing chowmein and, subsequently, vermicelli. Khalil recalls that his father’s firm was the first urban noodle manufacturer to break into the Linden market.
The 1976 fire that destroyed the Sussex Street business premises was a disaster for the businessman and his family. The premises was uninsured and the rebuilding process at Lusignan unfolded with the support of government.
The change of name to Peppy’s – his son’s ‘call name’ was Peppy – 22 years ago, was part of the founder’s initiative to re-brand and modernise the image of the company as well as to integrate his son into the enterprise. The current owner says that the change of image actually boosted sales.
He says that what has made the company successful has been its ability to stay abreast of changing demands and to strategically add new commodities to its production line. The 35 products currently manufactured under the Peppy’s brand include noodles, vinegar, black pepper and a range of cooking sauces.
The firm acquires most of its herbs and spices from its own farm, an establishment called Jaskasa Farm situated at Canal Number Two. Khalil says that the firm’s ability to “control” the process from the farm to the manufacturing process ensures that it is aware of the quality of its products. “We know that we are giving consumers the best. Apart from that we are concerned about creating employment,” he says. The company employs 23 persons.
The owner says that the company’s focus is on constantly raising its production to meet the increasingly rigorous demands of the international market and that up until now its products are “holding their own” on the external market. He is, however, under no illusions about the need to stay abreast of rising global safety and health standards if the company’s products are to remain competitive. Apart from its growing share of the local market, the company’s products are also exported to the United States, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname. The Barbados market is currently being explored.
The current preoccupation of the company’s owner is with taking his firm to what is commonly described as ‘the next level’. Khalil wants to further upgrade the quality of Peppy’s products and has embodied that development in the company’s broader plans to invest US$1.5 million in the creation of a new plant and the acquisition of a state-of-the-art manufacturing and processing plant. Khalil is seeking to accomplish this goal before passing the baton to his own son who is already immersed in the management of the enterprise.