Tag: building materials

ARC acquires new property, expands retail store

ARC Manufacturing Limited has acquired the 26,000-square foot property located at 14 Bell Road, which previously housed Starfish Oils Limited, adding to its 20-acre lumber treatment and construction material-producing plant.

The acquisition of the property, which took place last month, was financed from the company’s cash resources, Norman Horne, executive chairman, told the Jamaica Observer following a tour of the facility with a team from the NCB Financial Group led by Chairman Michael Lee-Chin.

“We’ll be using that area to build out and grow even greater our cement operation, and that includes storage of all the different sizes of cement bags,” Devon Brooks, the general manager responsible for commerce, disclosed.

Last year ARC Manufacturing entered into a five-year deal with Caribbean Cement Company Limited to distribute cement, extending an already existing 10-year arrangement. The new facility has been designated to store 250,000 bags of retail cement and 200-plus large bulk bags of the commodity.

So far, the company has renovated the space and removed the boundary walls that will create lateral access to the new property. There are no immediate plans for new, Brooks responded when asked.

He added that the adjoining space will resolve some logistics challenges the company faced with storage capacity and also accommodating delivery trucks.

“It will allow us to treat logistics aspects as it eases turnaround with our trucks, and so we can meet our customer demands even greater. As you can clearly see here that can become very cumbersome — a lot of traffic in that location,” Brooks pointed out.

“ARC is one of the only companies in Jamaica that boasts 24-hour delivery, and certainly a facility like that will allow us to even fulfil even shorter delivery expectations for our customers,” he continued.

The commercial manager is, however, expanding the cement distribution segment of the company boasting that ARC is Caribbean Cement Company’s largest customer in Jamaica.

In addition to the new property acquisition, Brooks also revealed that the company has expanded its retail space at the original Bell Road property.

“We are moving from 8,000 square feet to in excess of 30,000 square feet of warehouse space as well as floor store space. We are moving from an operation where we had over-the-counter to now a supermarket-style layout where persons can go and pick up the items from the shelf themselves,” he informed the Caribbean Business Report.

“And certainly with the new space we will be integrating new technology, new bar code system, where persons can easily identify and help themselves with easy scans and certainly we’re bringing our First World-type of feel to Three Miles,” he added.

When asked if ARC will introduce the same model to its Montego Bay location, Brooks noted that the immediate focus is to fine-tune the retail operation in Kingston. He added that the company’s focus at this time is organic and inorganic growth.

“And certainly you can grow by adding locations or you can grow by becoming even more efficient at how you distribute and how you get to your customers…We would have employed both those strategies in our growth so far. We would have acquired a new location and we would have gotten far more efficient in how we meet the customer’s need, so those continue to feature in our objectives going forward,” Brooks said.

Published by The Jamaica Observer.

ARC Paints Smiles at My Father’s House

Residents of My Father’s House compound of the Mustard Seed Communities are in for a bright Christmas following ARC Manufacturing Limited’s donation of paint and supplies to refurbish four of the facility’s dorms. Making the presentation, Sherlette Holness, senior manager, Projects & Retail Sales (centre), was joined by Mustard Seed’s Camille Bromfield, senior supervisor (left), and Ezlyn Mckenzie, administrator (right) during the handover.

Published by The Jamaica Gleaner.

Time to Build!

Following record high building material prices due to lumber shortages in July 2020 and plywood shortages earlier this year, homeowners are being told that now is a good time to start building again as prices have started to normalise.

Managing director at Arc Manufacturing Deanall Barnes told the Jamaica Observer the market is now adequately supplied with building materials. In addition to that, he highlighted that prices have already started to trend downward which should make these items more affordable for the average Jamaican.

“There’s a slowdown in China which has made more steel available for export which is increasing global competition and dragging down steel prices.” Barnes revealed that steel prices are down 10 per cent, form-ply down 15 per cent and lumber products down 12 per cent.

With that said the building materials company is reporting that sales are up, in line with the construction boom. Last week the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) reported that the construction industry continued its year-long growth trend with an uptick of 1.7 per cent for the July to September quarter.

Barnes said that based on research “there was a significant uptick [in construction] from Jamaicans in the diaspora.” He added that further discussions with financiers also revealed that there’s an increase in the demand for mortgage from persons in the diaspora.

“Those who did not have any form of property started looking to buy property in Jamaica and these property range in terms of prices from US$70,000 to as high as US$1.5 million. In addition to that, there are some persons who owned the land itself but there was no building on it, they started construction and when we had a discussion with the hardware owners they said there were persons who started and stopped and have now restarted.”

Barnes stressed that the major developments like high-rise apartments and road constructions do not impact his revenues as much as domestic construction. He described domestic construction as homeowners adding an additional room or retrofitting existing structures to accommodate the work from home lifestyle.

He said those activities, which constitute the core of the construction industry ,“has remained relatively healthy over the last 15 months.”

At the same time, he’s urging the Government to follow through on its commitment to increase the housing stock in Jamaica which will provide another added boost.

“We know to a large extent that the Government has not even achieved 30 per cent of its target to build 70,000 homes as yet. So we expect that the Government will push, through its agencies, whether the NHT (National Housing Trust) or the HAJ (Housing Agency of Jamaica), to try and get these numbers up and once the Government is firm on its path, then we are very confident that there will be a buoyancy in the industry despite the headwinds.”

At the same time, he is demanding that the Government find a way to remove red tape from the building approval process. He said removing red tape will provide a well-needed boost for construction workers who are left without an income while the approval process is being drawn out.

“There’s still an issue based on the discussions that we’ve had with some of the major developers in the country that the bureaucracy is still holding back the timeline in which projects are approved, and that lag in itself has caused negative impact on our industry.”

Another obstacle, he argued, is the Bank of Jamaica’s (BOJ) decision to increase its indicative monetary policy interest rate.

“The increase in interest rates by the BOJ although we understand it from the perspective of trying to manage inflation, there are some immediate deleterious consequences. Most, if not all, financial institutions are going to increase the rates charged to customers, so mortgage rates might go up as well as general loan rates so that can have a negative impact on the growth or continued boom.”

Nevertheless, he maintains that there’s hope on the horizon. “We are cautiously optimistic. There are some projects that have started which we expect to continue.”

Published by The Jamaica Observer.

ARC Employees Benefit from Defensive Driving Training

 As road fatalities continue to rise, ARC Manufacturing engaged Grennel’s Driving School to train a number of its transportation team members in defensive driving. 

The globally recognised National Safety Council’s Defensive Driving Course (NSC DDC) exposed drivers to numerous best-practise techniques, including defensive driving, preventative collision, pedestrian safety, hazard recognition, and vehicle maintenance.

The manufacturing company’s proactive approach to road safety will help its employees to anticipate driving errors of others, hazardous situations and support good decision-making strategies for safe driving.

ARC’s driver Steven Wright commented, “though I have been driving for almost two decades, the training highlighted areas I was never exposed to until now. It goes to show that you can never be too old to learn something new.”

In addition to its diverse portfolio of building materials, ISO 9001:2015 certified-ARC maintains its growth by supporting the development of staff at all levels throughout the business. This strengthens its talent pool and creates opportunities for workers to increase their earning potential.

Arc’s General Manager – Operations and Transportation Logistics, Yvonne Dacres said being able to recognise possible hazards and effectively respond promptly is a necessary skill that goes a far way in reducing road incidents.

“Ensuring the well-being of our team members and the communities we serve is a top priority, and that starts by creating a strong culture of safety,” she explained. “So with these fundamental defensive driving skills, our drivers can make better decisions in real-life situations to create a safer environment for everyone, both inside and outside the vehicle.”

ARC Manufacturing owns and operates one of the most modern lumber treatment facilities in the region. It employs over 300 people.

Published by Loop News.

Making a Way for Aspiring Dentist

Dupont Primary’s top PEP performer is on her way to achieving her dreams of becoming a dentist following ARC Manufacturing’s contribution to offset tuition and book expenses for the new academic year. Lakaica Greenland (centre) was joined by her mother, Jamila Persad (right), during the presentation from general manager – operations & transportation logistics, Yvonne Dacres (left).

Published by the Jamaica Gleaner.

Naedria Dyer – The Woman in Charge

GROWING up in Bull Savannah, St Elizabeth, Naedria Dyer’s goal was to become a teacher, but her life took an unexpected turn when she began her first job as a customer service representative at ARC Manufacturing Limited. The St Elizabeth native was determined to make her mark in the male-dominated field, which led to a career spanning roles in the commercial, credit and human resources arenas while in the big city.

Now the head of the company’s Montego Bay branch, Dyer’s journey to the top was no easy feat. She traded in her stilettos for steel-toed boots, and defied all odds to become a respected leader in the building materials industry.

Published by the Jamaica Observer.

ARC Manufacturing Nails Down Expansion Plan

ARC Manufacturing to transform Ferry Pen into manufacturing and distribution hub; Manufacturing plants to cover 18 acres of land

Construction and building supplies manufacturer, ARC Manufacturing has outlined an ambitious plan to develop the Ferry Pen area, which encompasses its Bell Road, Kingston 11 base, into a massive manufacturing and distribution hub.

Ferry Pen is located in the Three Miles area and is adjacent to Spanish Town Road on the left heading from Kingston. ARC Manufacturing chairman, Norman Horne, who made the announcement in an exclusive interview with the Caribbean Business Report, disclosed that the current Bell Road head office will be converted into a 100 per cent manufacturing facility.

The manufacturing facility will cover the entire 18 acres of land, which includes the former KIW warehouse, which ARC acquired from the Government some years ago and is currently being used for its lumber depot and warehousing facility. The acquisition of the warehouse property has allowed ARC to continue operating from that location which spreads towards its headquarters on Bell Road in Kingston.

“We have some other factories that we intend to bring on board at this facility,” Horne divulged. ARC Manufacturing, which is one of the leading manufacturers and distributors of premium-quality building materials in Jamaica, operates a series of plants on Bell Road, which stretches several football fields in length and width towards Spanish Town Road.

Two years ago ARC expanded to set up two additional plants that manufacture roofs and chain fencing. When quizzed about the plan, the ARC chairman explained that the development has been in the works for some time but the plans have had to be pushed back due to COVID-19, which has caused things to slow down a bit.

Horne was quick to add, “As soon as COVID-19 is over us, we plan to get back on track.”


He emphasised that the overall plan for the manufacturing and distribution hub in the Ferry Pen area will make the company and its manufactured products more competitive. According to Horne, “We believe that we can produce a number of products competitively in Jamaica, not just for the local market but also for the export market.”

The ARC Manufacturing chairman declared, “I am encouraging the Government to pay more keen attention, in not necessarily protecting the domestic market but also increasing the competitiveness of local manufacturers so that local products will have a greater reach in the domestic market.”

Last week ARC Manufacturing won the support of US Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia, who committed to assist the company with finding markets in America for its products. The US ambassador made the announcement during an interview with the Jamaica Observer following a tour of the company’s 14 Bell Road, Kingston 11, plant last week Thursday.

ARC Manufacturing produces a range of products and services including wire and steel products, chain-link fencing, aluminum-steel roofing tiles and more. The 18-acre plant features seven factories, including a state-of-the-art lumber treatment plant.

Published by the Jamaica Observer.

Norman Horne Explores Lockdown in Light of COVID-19

It is in times like these that Governments are put to the test. It is in times like these that Governments must take and implement extraordinary policy decisions and programmes to fast-track and realign the country on the road to development. The impact and implications of this COVID-19 are both seen and unseen and thus drastic times must call for drastic yet carefully balanced measures.

The hard truth

If we are one day past April 15, 2020, and the parishes of Kingston and St Andrew and the other 12 parishes are still under quarantine, having not joined St Catherine in “lockdown”, then Jamaica is seemingly on a pothole-riddled back road to COVID-19 recovery.

It is not a moot point that the human capital hub, now COVID-19 hotbed of Portmore is inextricably linked with both Kingston & St Andrew and Clarendon. As articulated by an employee: “Most of us who live in Portmore work and do everything else in Kingston. During the week we only sleep in Portmore.” Furthermore, the April 15, 2020 migration of persons from Portmore to Kingston & St Andrew buttresses the fact that not one of those three parishes can be divorced from the others. Furthermore, no parish within Jamaica’s 10,992 km2 is an island by itself. This is affirmed by the web of illness that COVID-19 is slowly weaving throughout our island and that which it has woven throughout the superpower states of the world.

The hard truth is that for the quickest socio-economic recovery, Jamaica would be better off sacrificing two weeks today as opposed to an indefinite period mere days after tomorrow. If we wait any longer to implement stringent social-distancing requirements, our best intentions may garner the worst results.

The misery index

We are a small country of approximately three million people. Population size will either be our fortune or prove fatal depending on the effectiveness of our national approach to COVID-19. The more the virus spreads and the longer the state of quarantine or lockdown lasts, then the greater the impact will be on the economy. We are all financially losing and will all continue to lose until COVID is cauterized.

The status quo today and in the short term for the average Jamaican indicates that the misery index is rising and may rise to epic proportions:

(1) Many Jamaicans are consuming, but not earning;

(2) Many Jamaicans have, or will exhaust all savings;

(3) Jamaicans with credit cards and great financial demands and responsibilities will max those cards out; and

(4) As a last resort, many Jamaicans have or will turn to borrowing at high exchange rates with the inability to repay in the short term.


The harsh realities that accompany the consumer burdened misery index will also have a severe impact upon the macroeconomy as follows:

(1) reduction in GDP;

(2) devaluation of the Jamaican dollar; and

(3) increase in inflation.

Presently, we are at risk of completely wiping out our micro, small and medium enterprises to include taxis, barbers, chefs, hairdressers, and small farmers who are all currently operating at a loss. Aside from the food industry and pharmaceuticals, many of us will not be able to survive a protracted collapse of the domestic economy.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has diagnosed that this “Great Lockdown” will be the “worst economic downturn since the Great Depression”. The IMF advises that, “The magnitude and speed of collapse in activity that has followed is unlike anything experienced in our lifetime.”

Acknowledging the variable factors and the uncertainty in the projections regarding the reopening of the global economy, the IMF has already had requests for emergency financing from more than 90 countries to date. The IMF has committed US$1 trillion in lending for countries economically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though previously confident that our net international reserves of over US$3 billion would have been able to cushion the COVID-19 blow, our minister of finance has done the right thing by turning back to the IMF for much-needed financial support. However, with the sudden and premature closure of the compassionate grant programme, it is now incumbent upon the Government to provide the citizenry with firm assurance that there is not only a safety net, but also an implementation plan in place to provide adequate social security for the protection of the poorest and most vulnerable. The Government has likely not forgotten: “If it takes cash to care, it also takes caring to achieve even in the face of penury” (Edward Seaga).

Immediately: BPO lockdown

The numbers speak for themselves without need for further comment. It is said that the call centre is now the national epicentre of COVID-19, and the most prevalent view is that the longer the call centres are open the more rampant the spread of COVID-19 will be islandwide. With the best of economic intentions, it is better to sacrifice two weeks now as opposed to 12 months later. The safeguarding of the lives of the Jamaican people should always be our primary focus. We can restart the economy, but we cannot revive those who we have lost to COVID-19. Unlike the tourism industry, which has succumbed to COVID’s economic demise, the Business Process Outsource (BPO) industry like most others would not be at a complete standstill but would pause to allow for the eradication of COVID-19 as opposed to its further spread.

The Jamaican people are starting to question whether or not there is a motive for keeping the BPO sector fully operational during this time. The argument is that one COVID-19 case merited the lockdown of Bull Bay. A few COVID-19 cases merited the lockdown of Cornpiece. However, scores of COVID-19 cases have not merited the closure of the BPO sector. Only the Government can speak to this.

Next 30 days: Private and increased testing

To date, and with some success, the country’s approach has been tracing, tracking, isolation and testing. However, based on the increased COVID-19 numbers, we must take a more robust approach to identify all persons who have contracted the virus and place them all in isolation. Almost all of the countries with the greatest COVID-19 combat success were not only early into lockdown but also began robust testing at the beginning of the spread. It is clear that our rate and methodology of testing is not only slow, but is also not widespread enough.

The organisational skills which are utilised heavily by politicians to garner votes and win elections should be put aggressively to use to combat COVID-19. For example, to increase testing, strategically placed polling stations could be converted to testing stations. This would not only make testing more accessible and encourage voluntary testing for symptomatic citizens, but it would also give the Government a more precise geographic picture of the infected and uninfected communities.

We have learned from the dengue experience that in the tracking of viral outbreaks, the Government cannot do it alone. For example, in June 2019 the country was told categorically that there was no dengue outbreak. However, by October 2019, it was reported that there had been 88 dengue-related deaths, almost doubling the deaths related to the disease in the preceding year. The Government in leading the COVID-19 battle seems to wish to have centralised testing and centralised testing only. This was the same approach taken with dengue decades ago. Nevertheless, it was soon discovered that private testing only strengthened the Government’s initiative to diagnose, test, cure, and accurately report.

Rapid test kits are available on the international market. The Government should therefore approve the private import of said tests and encourage private doctors who are so willing to procure rapid test kits, test, and report the results as happens today with dengue.

Compassionate policy appeal

There is a view that more humanity and compassion is needed by the citizenry as we combat covid-19. Expectations of Government intervention are extremely high and in the field of agriculture and basic services, particularly electricity there have been conversations which call for a compassionate policy appeal to be made on behalf of the Jamaican people:

(1) Electricity Disconnection: Many consumers who are unable to earn are concerned that their electricity either has or will be disconnected due to non-payment. This may well become a reality for many of us. It would be prudent for the Government to make an appeal to the Jamaica Public Service in an attempt to negotiate payment plans and an extension of service for those who will or may be struggling to pay their electricity bills. We do not wish those who have no earnings to be left in the dark indefinitely.

(2) Agriculture: The disastrous impact that COVID-19 has had on the agricultural sector has been highly publicised and the Government has made a marked effort to intervene. However, a blueprint plan should be shared with the public since the public will have to participate in these efforts by consuming the excess produce as opposed to disposing same. It would be savvy if the Government identified all cold storage points throughout the island, identified all areas where there would likely be real demand and supply and thereafter route supply to demand in an organised and consumer friendly fashion.

We are in this together

With no section of society unscathed, COVID-19 is an indiscriminate virus that suffers no fools. We are all in this together. It is therefore our patriotic duty to educate, participate in the discourse, and be a part of solutions on the road to COVID-19 recovery.

It is time to lock down all 14 parishes for at least two weeks and clean the country of COVID-19. This is not a time to wait and play catch-up. Perhaps Murphy’s Law, “If it can happen, it will,” may be a guiding principle for how we should proceed. For a brighter tomorrow, we must sacrifice today.

Norman Horne CD, JP, is Executive Chairman of ARC Manufacturing Limited

Published by the Jamaica Observer.

The multidimensional effects of COVID-19

In the field of disasters, COVID-19 is unique as its unrelenting disastrous effects simultaneously undermine the health and economic sectors of a country in a reasonably short time. The fact that its variables are for the most part unknown makes it dangerous and makes planning unsure.

Consequently, to avoid placing those two sectors in a comatose state, the response has to be twofold and in unison. This requires a fine balancing act.

As the Government grapples with trying to get it right, the manufacturing and distribution sector also has a similar challenge. Any success will depend not only on strategic, grave economic decisions but also on the existing health of the manufacturing companies. A company undergirded by good corporate governance practices and a vigorous risk management portfolio may better find the flexibility and agility required. Therefore, one positive outcome of this crisis could be the testing of each company so that lessons can be learned and ultimately our companies and the manufacturing sector can be stronger.

COVID-19 has already created a cultural business shift by invoking higher levels of creativity in response to having to function within a new abnormal. For example, as a result of the new social distancing behaviour, companies have now instituted work from home and flexi-work which was not welcomed with open arms generally but is now fully embraced by all.

Unfortunately, the only part of manufacturing and distribution that can be done from home is administration.

Operations are now between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm. We have had to adjust working hours and re-engineer the workplace to maintain social distancing. This has required the relocating of machinery and equipment. Also, deliveries have been rescheduled within the newly gazetted time, which has led to new overnighting arrangements for truck drivers.

Though COVID-19 has engendered a culture of fear, interestingly, it has also reinforced discipline in the workplace as employees are now seeing the important link between discipline, safety and production through a new lens.

We are all wearing masks and it is my view that everyone should wear a mask to stop the spread of COVID, be it paper, cloth, surgical or even a handkerchief because this is the best defence against the spread.

A drastic reduction in world oil prices has resulted in a substantial reduction in Jamaica’s oil bill. This will mean more foreign exchange than budgeted for the country and will further stabilise the Jamaican dollar.

Jamaica should now prudently maintain the same amount of resources budgeted for oil purchase and use the surplus to forward buy. This would provide greater levels of economic stability over the COVID-recovery period by taming inflation and by reducing the cost of production, transportation, and electricity.

There are some favourable conditions now. For example, some commodities, like steel, have a greater supply than demand resulting in a lowering of prices.

In relation to shipping, more cargo ships are available and the shipping rates are therefore lower owing to oil price reduction. This is good for the distributive trade.

However, with perishable commodities like timber, the reverse is true with an increase in prices.

Overall, it is suggested that imported goods will be in short supply. However, in the world post-COVID-19 it is difficult to project market pricing. We could easily see the markup or conversely the plummeting of the prices of building materials, commodities and manufactured goods as happened in the 2008 world financial crisis.

With the advent of COVID-19, the initial reaction of investors was to take profits, thereby creating a dramatic depreciation in the world stock market. As it intensified, investors not only took profit but converted their investments to cash or near-cash investments. This has caused the mass devaluation of the stock markets resulting in the loss of trillions of capital.

Equally, the Jamaican stock market has suffered devaluation and capital erosion, thereby affecting all business sectors, including manufacturing.

Until the world turns the page, production is back in gear and companies start to enjoy earnings and investor confidence, this bear market will remain the status quo.

Commercial life has taught the seasoned businessman that for every debit, the offsetting entry is always a credit. Home can now be described as a multipurpose facility, thereby creating a fertile environment for family-oriented activities, especially since COVID-19 has highlighted the fragility of life.

Family bonding and the imparting of good social and spiritual values are now at a premium. Proper scheduling and time management with a double focus on work and family should pay great dividends in both work and family life.

The integrity of a healthy microcosm, be it in government, business, community or family, has been shown by COVID-19 to be of paramount importance. One takeaway is that to be able to withstand any shocks in a resilient way, one must have made good, solid decisions while building the foundation of that microcosm.

As a people, therefore, we must use the distilled wisdom of the past as evidenced by the actions of our forefathers coupled with present-day best practices in every area. We must now, more than ever, remain glued together, strongly anchored by the resilience of our people.

We shall overcome.

Norman Horne is Executive Chairman of ARC Manufacturing Ltd.

Published by The Jamaica Observer