(Jamaica Observer) The smile on Omar Azan’s face is broader these days. That’s because his Boss Furniture Company Ltd this month doubled exports to the Caribbean.
“This month alone we had 21 containers,” Azan told the Jamaica Observer, adding that before, the largest number of containers the company exported was nine.
“It took time and patience to build these relationships (in other islands); months, and in some cases, years of reaching out to these new markets, without any return, until finally now we are reaping the benefits,” he said.
Azan credited the company’s success to a strategy of thinking bigger and focusing on exports in the region, even as Boss continued to service the local market.
October has actually turned out to be a good month for the furniture company located on Church Street in downtown Kingston. Just a few weeks ago, Boss walked away with two titles at the annual Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) Awards — Product Group Award for Furniture, Bedding & Wooden Pro-ducts; and the Champion Exporter Award sponsored by JAMPRO for small exporters.
“We were exporting to only one Caribbean island in 1997, but now we are exporting to 14 different countries in the region — Barbados, Guyana, Suriname, the US Virgin Islands, to name a few. We are looking to grow the export market,” Azan said.
He gave a lot of credit to JAMPRO — the State agency that promotes business opportunities in export and investment to the local and overseas private sector — which played a role in assisting Boss and other companies through the Export Max programme, which provides customised capacity-building and market-penetration support to help local export companies enhance their competitiveness.
“Devaluation locally has created a weak buying power for our people, because salaries are unable to keep up with the devaluation of the currency,” Azan stated. “Our goal has been to create a product our people can afford. This not only helps the country with earning foreign exchange, but helps our business and staff to be able to have continuity of earnings.”
The former JMA president said that as a member of the Foreign Exchange Committee at the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), he had recommended that the central bank reduce the surrender value on foreign exchange from 30 per cent to 20 per cent, a move that, he insisted, would allow for another US$1 billion to flow though the economy.”
The recommendation was accepted by the BOJ, which this week slashed the amount from 25 per cent to 20 per cent for authorised dealers and 15 per cent for cambios.
He also recommended that the Jamaican dollar reserve be reduced to allow for the availability of more local currency for commercial banks to be able to on-lend to the business sectors, be it manufacturing, farming, or BPO.
Acknowledging that stringent policies were put in place because of past tough economic conditions, Azan said that now that things have improved a bit, some of these policies can be relaxed to stimulate growth in the economy.
“It would also be good if manufacturing companies could get similar interest rates on loans, which are also globally competitive… We would also like to see a more secure environment… everyone would benefit from that,” he said.
While Azan is celebrating the export achievement, he is quick to highlight the role his staff, family, and more importantly faith in Christ, have played in the company’s success.
“We are thankful to our customers, staff and suppliers, and the Lord,” he said.
Boss Furniture has been in existence since 1990 and currently employs over 200 staff at two locations. The company manufactures and supplies beds and sofas to some of Jamaica’s top retailers, such a Courts Jamaica. It also manufactures foam and spring mattresses, bed bases, fibre pillows and upholstered furniture. Its clients include hospitals, prisons, universities, police stations, jails, and other institutions.