CEO of the Harris Paints Group, Ian Kenyon, underscored support for Antigua acknowledging that while the company can never replace the role of an indigenous paint brand, it is totally committed to supporting the Government in its vision of re-establishing manufacturing in Antigua. He remarked that Harris had a history of success in the Eastern Caribbean having invested in Dominica in 1978 and St Lucia in 1994, establishing factories that helped both those countries build manufacturing sectors that are now thriving.
Harris is already a well-known and trusted brand in Antigua growing year on year since the brand’s arrival in 1992. In fact, Harris celebrates 25 years with local paint retailer Paint Plus, this week.
“Our growth has come from providing quality products manufactured in the Caribbean and formulated for our climatic conditions and customer preferences; growing long term relationships in the communities where we live and work and respecting local customs; providing outstanding customer service from our sales network across the region and creating vital global industry partnerships that are essential to access leading edge technology to produce quality products that are internationally tested against regional and North American Brands”, explained Kenyon. “This new level of investment will now enable Harris to support our Antiguan customers, homeowners and contractors even better in the future whilst providing the Government with a great case study to attract other manufacturer’s from other industries to the Island”.
Since completing an ECD $4 Million site renovation, Harris Paints invested another ECD$1 Million in state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and in spite of the myriad of challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to produce nearly 15,000 gallons this month all of which has been achieved by the 100% locally hired team. This puts the production unit on track to easily surpass the target of 200,000 gallons per year by 2022.
By October, Harris will have expanded their retail footprint in Antigua adding 6 new stockists to its distributor network making it even easier to access the Harris brand which will be available in around 50% of the country’s major paint stores. The CEO added “ we will always be looking to expand our wide ranging brand portfolio into locations that are fully committed to supporting the brand and its values but for the time being we believe we have the right balance of accessibility combined with the right level of professionalism and customer focus offered by our recent additions to the Harris team” .
Harris Paints began in 1972 in Barbados as the island’s first locally manufactured paint focused on providing customers with quality products and superior value for money. As the company grew, Harris further invested in the Caribbean and in the past 48 years have developed additional manufacturing plants in Dominica, St Lucia and Jamaica, enabling us supply customers across the region from Belize in the north to Guyana in the south.
“We have a reputation as a strong, family driven and privately-owned Caribbean brand”, stated the CEO but what Antiguans may not know is that because of this, we offer a very different dynamic to a large publicly traded conglomerate like the Trinidadian ANSA McAL that owns Berger and Sissons or the global mega-giants like Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore that mass produce their paint in North America using North American formulations for North American climates! For these reasons our Little Man icon is very apt because he truly does symbolize the fact that we are the real underdog against these multinational giants but we also very proud of the fact that we more than punch above our weight!
Commenting on the controversy sparked last week amongst paint retailers, Kenyon stated that less developed countries within CARICOM have been discussing steps to create an incentive to attract investment for almost 20 years and during this time any manufacturer could have invested in Antigua or any of the other LDC (less developed countries) economies. He pointed out that because Harris already had plants in Dominica and St Lucia, both LDC countries, Harris was already uniquely positioned to have supplied the Antiguan market duty free.
He added that it was a well-known fact in the paint community, that Berger also has a paint plant in LDC Grenada , which means that Berger, and its other brand Sissons, are equally well placed to supply paints to Antigua tariff free both now and in the future. “So how can it be a monopoly if Harris is available in 50% of Antigua’s major retailers and its biggest competitor can already supply paint duty free from Grenada? “he pondered!
Kenyon added “Other paint companies could have launched in Antigua but they chose not to do so. That was their decision but we see tremendous potential in Antigua and acted accordingly. It should be no surprise either that our ambitions also extend beyond Antigua because Antigua is in an excellent geographical location supported by world class port facilities which makes it the ideal base to develop export markets in the northern Caribbean!”.
Mr. Kenyon said that the Government had been very supportive in assisting Harris in starting operations as quickly as was achieved and applauded their efforts to attract investment to the island, to develop local business, provide jobs and stimulate the economy. He concluded by saying that the mission of Harris has always been to “enrich lives through colour” and that Harris had every intention of sticking to its winning formula of manufacturing premium quality coatings that are made by locals for their local communities and he said the whole company is now completely focused and energized on making this happen to the benefit of every Antiguan!