Founded in the early 1960s B-H Paints has been a well-known name in Jamaica for nearly 55 years. As a local manufacturer and distributor of paints and coatings, B-H quickly gained a reputation for offering high quality products and exceptional value to local painters. It wasn’t long before the company had established markets in several Caribbean territories from Grenada in the South to Cayman Islands in the north.
Over the years the company’s Jamaican team has learned to be resilient and resourceful in order to survive some tough economic conditions while never sacrificing on quality. Part of B-H’s staying power can be attributed to its dedication to providing the market with a broad range of products that cater to a wide number of needs whether for construction, the furniture industry or for the hobbyist. Also of fundamental importance, was the company’s commitment to technical excellence and consistent quality, an ethos that reaped B-H awards and recognition as early as the 1980s.
After 45 years of solidifying its reputation and continuing to capture the paint market, B-H Paints began to catch the interest of larger companies looking to expand their reach and access new markets. Sales and Marketing Manager, Claude Manning sees this as a natural progression and explains how the company has grown.
“In 2006 B-H Paints was purchased by Harris Paints International Limited, the largest regional manufacturer and distributor of paint coatings in the 14 Caribbean markets in which they operate. Harris already had manufacturing plants in Barbados, St Lucia and Dominica and although they were the market leaders in the Eastern Caribbean, they were looking to new geographies for growth and Jamaica and the B-H operation, held a lot of potential and looked to be a good fit. At B-H we benefitted also from an injection of capital and in that there was always a great value placed on the Jamaican team”.
“Part of Harris’s success is due to the importance we place on having local people in all our locations, who understand the local culture and the needs of the local customer”. This is the adamant belief of Chief Executive Officer of the Harris Group, Ian Kenyon. “The B-H plant in Jamaica has the largest production capacity of all our Caribbean operations and as a country with a population 9 times bigger than our most dominant market in Barbados, we are very excited about where the Jamaican B-H team can take this business in the future”.
Since 2006, BH has strengthened its performance on a number of fronts and has embraced the ISO quality management standards, earning and maintaining the internationally recognized ISO 9001:2008 certification. Claude Manning underlines that the certification extends to every area of the business to support consistent and high quality standards from production right through to customer service.
The mid size Jamaican company has also been able to tap in to valuable resources and partnerships through the Harris Group. “We noticed across the Caribbean that customers were crying out for paints that were more fade resistant, longer lasting, provided better coverage and hiding and were less harmful to the environment,” explains Mr. Manning. “This led to the development and launch of our Ulttima Plus line that incorporates 5 proprietary technologies to reduce the growth of mildew on exterior paints and provide safer, longer lasting colours. The line has been exceptionally well received and in independent tests, is proven to have overall outperformed competitors, products.”
B-H Paints currently has about 60 employees and their products are sold in approximately 400 dealers stores across the country including Kingston, Mandeville, Savanna la Mar and Montego Bay. In addition to the Ulttima Plus range which is available in up to 59,000 colours, B-H offers consumers excellent alternatives such as the mid-range Perma brand which it recently made available in a new expanded range of 4000 colours. Although decorative house paints and primers represent a large part of the demand, B-H also provide accessories and tools, caulks and putties, building chemicals; care for wood and metals and solutions for swimming pools, marine, seamless resin flooring and other specialty items.
“We might not be the biggest company, however we have access to the largest team of sales people in the Caribbean and also have the largest NACE Certified technical team, a specially trained elite of corrosion control experts”, continued Mr. Manning. “Jamaica has a lot of manufacturing and heavy industry and our high performance coatings systems offer solutions for a myriad of commercial enterprises. These custom solutions are designed for specific purposes such as tank linings, chemical resistance and heat-proofing. This is a generation of extreme products that most companies twice our size are not even able to offer”.
Beyond just products, B-H prides itself on providing complete solutions and customer education has been a major component of the company’s philosophy. Within the past year BH has held four seminars for specific customer segments which target not only information on products, but preparation tips, application techniques and how to handle common situations that might be encountered on the job. The company is currently preparing an exciting schedule for the next 12 months which will include how to use colour in space, design tips, the psychology of colour and hot trends.
Even though B-H Paints has expanded a great deal since the company was first established, Manning asserts the company is certainly not resting on their laurels “We are very proud of what we stand for and what we have achieved to date but Jamaica represents a USD 57 million market, and of course, we want to be the market leader.” While Manning acknowledges they still have some way to go, with continued customer focus, commitment to service and quality and with a bit of that resilience and resourcefulness that has served them so well, he has no doubt that they will get there.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: B-H Paints
WHAT: Local Jamaican paint manufacturer with distributors across the globe
WHERE: Head office, manufacturing plant and three retail outlets in Kingston; retail outlets in Mandeville, Savanna la Mar, Montego Bay and Portmore.