It started in 1983 as a small family-run hardware located at a busy intersection in Couva.
Then in 2018, some 35 years later, its managing director Jaio Ramkissoon decided to get into the business of manufacturing PVC pipes.
This was no pipe dream.
As New Wave Marketing Ltd is now considered one of the leading medium-sized manufacturers in this country.
In fact, the company has been hailed by Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon for its contribution to T&T’s economy.
New Wave Marketing also won the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association’s (TTMA) Manufacturer of the Year in the Medium category for 2018.
“First we started as a hardware, and then we went solely into the distribution of plumbing. That would have been around 2004 or 2005,” director Emil Ramkissoon told the Business Guardian as he recounted the company’s growth.
“And then in 2018 we had the need to shift into manufacturing as we saw there was no more growth for the company as being a distributor,” he said.
Ramkissoon said an investment was made into machinery to ensure that the company was able to make the transition.
“And then we grew into exports gradually and that brings us to today,” Ramkissoon said.
Today New Wave Marketing is a force to be reckoned with.
The company has already captured 85 per cent of the local market.
And while its roots remain in Couva its reach is now regional.
“Our major markets are Jamaica and St Lucia. The plan is to get out there more but obviously with the pandemic borders were closed so we could not engage in physical meetings and networking and doing research outside of T&T,” Ramkissoon said.
“We had to make do with trying to capture markets at home but when you get to travel and meet people and research and try and procure new customers I think with the border being opened it will make it easier,” he said.
Director of New Wave Marketing Emil Ramkissoon
Last year before the pandemic hit T&T’s shores, New Wave Marketing gave Gopee-Scoon a tour of their facilities.
“It is an exemplary small and medium enterprise company that began as a small, family Distribution Company and has grown—morphing and adapting to the different changes in the local and international business environment—to become a manufacturer and exporter,” TTMA’s former president Franka Costelloe said following that tour.
Costelloe said the company’s success was due to a high up-time, running at well beyond the industry average with 80 per cent capacity.
Ramkissoon said while the pandemic has brought new challenges the pressure has not burst New Wave Marketing’s pipes.
“To be quite honest it has been a challenge but we had to face the challenge, we could not just sit down,” Ramkissoon said.
“You have to keep retooling to suit the needs. It is challenging, especially in a pandemic where things are costly and you don’t have the same revenue. You have to go with the tide sometimes, but sometimes you can’t go with it. So you just have to weigh your options and see what’s best for the business,” he said.
Ramkissoon said one of the major challenges New Wave Marketing has experienced because of the pandemic was the delay in shipments of raw material.
“A lot of shipments were being delayed constantly. The estimated times of arrivals were being revised over and over,” he said.
“And that was beyond our control because sometimes a lot of the shipments got stuck at transshipment ports because countries went into lockdown and they may come out of the lockdown and by the time the ship reached the next destination that country was in a lockdown. So there were a lot of delays,” Ramkissoon said.
He explained New Wave Marketing implemented various health and safety protocols within its factory and within the distribution warehouse to ensure customers and staff were protected against COVID-19.
“We implemented electronic payments. A lot of customers call in their orders so we don’t have to have any physical contact and we also use electronic platforms for external and internal meetings,” Ramkissoon said.
In addition to this Ramkissoon said temperature checks are done twice daily, sanitisation stations and face masks are provided, and staff are rotated regularly.
“Even though our staff is vaccinated, we cannot let our guard down,” he said.
With a staff of 75 employees New hopes that soon the T&T economy can be fully reopened because while the offtakers for its business like hardware stores are opened Ramkissoon understands it also requires others to have disposable income to make the economy run.
“Really and truly yes hardware stores are allowed to open and construction is allowed to open but people aren’t in jobs they don’t have resources to spend on house projects and the basic day to day plumbing so you will not see the full scale of what business used to be like, even though we are essential we are just servicing the essentials, because people aren’t spending as they used to spend,” he said.
“The hope right now is to get the country to herd immunity and to get the economy opened and allow people to get back jobs and be vaccinated and that is the most important thing I think right now,” Ramkissoon said
Apart from the company’s progress, Ramkissoon has also been making waves on an individual level.
Last year he was appointed to the TTMA’s board.
At 25 years old he is the youngest person to ever to be appointed to the position.
With that appointment, Ramkissoon said he has been able to see some of the challenges facing the industry as a whole.
“Foreign exchange still continues to be a challenge however, if you continue to grow exports you will see the foreign exchange and sitting on the board of the TTMA we have the Exim bank facility that our manufacturers can utilise,” he said.
Ramkissoon said he supports the TTMA’s goal to double this country’s exports by 2025.
“There is competition out there. So when we double exports we have to think we are not just competing locally we are competing regionally and in the Western Hemisphere,” he said.