A drink for everyone
The business now known as Du Boulay’s Bottling Company Ltd. sprang from a family operation in ice manufacturing and cold storage, in which current CEO Dunstan DuBoulay and his brothers worked with their father—who’d begun the enterprise in 1972.
The corporate direction changed when the father and sons determined that the marketplace was becoming too crowded, prompting examination of an opportunity in the beverage industry.
To say the change was a prudent one now seems like an understatement.
The Saint Lucia-based operation is now home to a workforce of 110 employees and exports products to several countries in the Eastern Caribbean, with a reach that extends as far as the U.S. Virgin Islands. But, Du Boulay claims, there’s no intention of stopping there.
“Once the logistics and numbers make sense,” he said, “the entire globe is our market.”
Du Boulay recently sat down with Business View to discuss the company’s heritage, the ways in which it differentiates from competition and some of its additional plans for the future.
Business View: There’s obviously been a good deal of evolution and expansion. Has that evolution been according to a plan or vision that was in place even in the early days, or more by circumstance/opportunity?
Dunstan Du Boulay: Having entered the beverage business, it was very clear to us that to be really successful we had to be the front runners in the Industry and from those early days we set our standards to the highest realistically achievable within our market. Overall I would have to say our vision was always to evolve exponentially but, as we know, in all business there exists a level of adaptation to the ever-changing marketplace. Suffice it to say, our commitment to our evolution made adapting to unforeseeables that much easier for us. Whatever the particular catalyst, we have relentlessly pursued a mission of continuous growth and expansion, embracing the many advantages of new technology, and this has placed DBC as the leading beverage manufacturer in the eastern Caribbean.
Business View: Can you talk about the unique characteristics, or challenges, of a family business?
Du Boulay: Running a family business can sometimes be very challenging particularly with members operating in close proximity. However, due to our nature and temperament and the strong bonds of trust and confidence which we maintain in each other, instead of posing challenges, our relationship has molded a spine of steel into company and, further to this, facilitates decision making in the shortest possible time frame.
Business View: Among the customers you have, what is the most typical? What does that entity most often look like?
Du Boulay: We service practically every segment of the market from the smallest street vendor to the largest wholesalers and retailers on the island. We continue to maintain a strong and ever-growing presence at all local supermarkets with almost total exclusivity in the Restaurant, Fast Food and Hospitality sectors.
Business View: Is it a hugely competitive market for you, or less so?
Du Boulay: The beverage market, by its very nature, is always competitive. We would like to think that what sets us apart is likely the fact that we recognised this from day one.
Business View: Among the competition that does exist, how does DuBoulay’s otherwise set itself aside? What do you consider to be your main differentiating factors from other businesses?
Du Boulay: DBC boasts one of the most formidable portfolios in the beverage business, with internationally renowned products like Coca-Cola, Coke-Light, Coke-Zero, Sprite, Sprite- Zero, our own local flagship brand of exotic ICY flavours and our own local premium quality Crystal Clear bottled water. The uncompromising quality of our products combined with our quality of service are certainly our most defining attributes. However, further to the corporate aspect of our operation, DBC has always maintained a rigorous policy of giving back to the community via the sponsorship of local sports, arts, craft and human development. We are the only company in the Caribbean to maintain active sponsorship of a sporting event for over 30 years (The Coca Cola Junior International Tennis Tournament). Further to this we have also maintained lengthy and continued sponsorships of local Cricket, Football and a range of other sporting disciplines. We are also actively involved in the development of our local Calypso music; providing financial support and sponsorship to Calypsonians as well as the various Calypso Associations to which they belong. So I believe it is safe to say that we actively seek to set ourselves apart via our corporate functionality via our dedication to quality and service it is our high level involvement and interest in community development which likely sets us apart the most.
Business View: Have there been particular strong business relationships — either with suppliers and vendors, or any other companies you do business with – that have stood out over the years?
Du Boulay: Over the years we have established strong business relationships with almost all our major suppliers and vendors, having particularly strong ties with the largest Supermarket and Hotel Chains. We are actually in one particular case shareholders of one of our major suppliers – Rose & Laflamme (B’dos) Limited.
Business View: Internally, what’s going on that could best be labeled as “new and different”? Any in-house initiatives? Expansions or changes in services?
Du Boulay: We are in the process of launching some new packaging which we are particularly excited about. As mentioned earlier we are also currently in the process relocating our domestic distribution operations to a more strategically placed and spacious premise.
Business View: Lastly, look down the road for me about five years. What are the company goals/priorities/agenda items for that time frame, and how do you hope or anticipate thing will look differently than they do now?
Du Boulay: Our vision over the next five years is to establish the company as the only, or leading, fully integrated beverage production facility in our region. We plan to continue expanding and upgrading