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    PA Benjamin Gets ISO Certification +

  • The P.A. Benjamin Manufacturing Company said it hopes to release at least four new products per year, having achieved ISO 9001:2008 certification.

    The National Certification Body of Jamaica (NCBJ) granted the certification on July 18, making P.A. Benjamin the first company to gain certification of the pharmaceutical code.

    "ISO has certified all of our processes, and part of our biggest thrust is new product development. So it allows us to come out with new high quality products on a consistent basis," Director and Commercial Manager of P.A. Benjamin Christopher Powell told Gleaner Business.

    The goal to add at least four new products per year "means that we will have up to 20-30 products in the development stages that, over time, we will roll them out," he said.

    The scope of certification covers the design, development and manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, as well as personal and infant care, cough and cold, flavourings and colourings, savouries, bath and body care, laundry, household and cleaning products.

    The NCBJ itself was approved by ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) in March 2016, allowing the agency to certify local companies.

    "It standardises our operations, and the standards are internationally recognised. It will make us more efficient in how we operate because everything that we do is now documented and it's all procedure driven," said Powell.

    The company believes it will more easily break into new markets, given that countries typically request proof and level of certification.

    "It makes it easier for them to trust our products and it ensures that we can produce the same product of the same quality, consistently," Powell said.

    P.A. Benjamin was previously ISO certified in 2002 through a Canadian body. That certification expired.


    Mr. Errol Powell Chairman of P. A. Benjamin Manufacturing Company Limited is pictured here addressing the audience at the recent ISO presentation.

    PA Benjamin is now ISO 9001:2008 Certified and received this award from the National Certification Body of Jamaica NCBJ and a ceremony held at the Bureau of Standard office on Friday September 2

    Seated at the head table from left right are Mrs. Michelle Sturridge, Manager NCBJ, Mr.  Christopher Powell, Director/Commercial Manager P. A. Benjamin Manufacturing Company Limited. Mr. Vivian Brown Director General representing The Honourable Karl Samuda, Minister of Industry, Commerce Agriculture and Fisheries and Mr. James Rawle, Chairman of The Standards Council, Bureau of Standards.

    Mr James Rawle, Chairman of The Standards Council, Bureau of Standards. Addressing the audience at the recent presentation of ISO 9001:2008 certification to P. A. Benjamin Manufacturing Company Limited. Mr. Rawle spoke of the hard work and dedication required to receive such a certification, he also stated that “Achievement of this certification demonstrates your commitment to becoming more efficient, increasing your productivity and accessing new markets, thereby increasing the export sales of the country”

    Group shot of P. A. Benjamin Manufacturing Company Limited staff members along with Mrs. Michelle Sturridge, Manager NCBJ and Mr. Vivian Brown Director General representing The Honourable Karl Samuda, Minister of Industry, Commerce Agriculture and Fisheries

    More Companies Urged to get Certified +

  • More local manufacturing companies are being encouraged to get certified, so that their goods can meet international standards.

    “We are convinced that manufacturing has a huge role to play in the future of this country, and international standards and certification are major pillars in going forward,” says Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Karl Samuda.

    In a message read by Director General in the Ministry, Vivian Brown, at the presentation of ISO 9001:2008 Certification to P.A. Benjamin Manufacturing Company Limited by the National Certification Body of Jamaica at the Bureau of Standards, in Kingston, today (September 2), Mr. Samuda said the Ministry and its principal agents and departments commit to continue working and collaborating with manufacturing companies to plot a way forward in this regard.

    He further noted that the Ministry is committed to the ISO certification process through the National Certification Body of Jamaica.

    Mr. Samuda commended P.A. Benjamin Manufacturing Company Limited on their ISO 9001:2008 certification, pointing out that it signals a significant move for the organisation, which is one of the oldest manufacturing companies in Jamaica.

    “With ISO 9001:2008 certification you have placed yourself among the leaders of this world in this industry,” he said.

    The Minister said it is crucial that the country’s trading partners have confidence in the goods and services produced in Jamaica, adding that certification of internationally recognised standards are a major confidence boost for suppliers and consumers.

    Meanwhile, Chairman, P.A. Benjamin Manufacturing Company Limited, Errol Powell, said the company will continue to place the highest priority on achieving excellence and high-quality products.

    He informed that the current certification of ISO 9001:2008 is not the first ISO certification for the company, noting that the entity was among the pioneering ones that were ISO certified in 2002 by Canadian company QMI.

    “While certification is for a prescribed period and the previous certification expired, our processes, systems and practices have always been governed by a Quality Management System. This is what facilitated us producing goods of the highest quality on a consistent and sustained basis,” he added.

    He said ISO processes will be utilised in the expansion of the company’s plant and doubling of its productive capacity.

    For her part, Manager, National Certification Body of Jamaica, Michelle Sturridge, said certification covers the design, development and manufacture of pharmaceuticals; personal care, cough and cold, infant care, bath and body-care products; flavourings and colourings; and  laundry and household cleaning products.

    She encouraged the company to continue working hard to ensure that the management system remains robust and consistently conforms to the requirements of ISO 9001.

    P.A. Benjamin was awarded a certificate of conformity to the requirements of ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management Systems on July 18, 2016.


    P.A. Benjamin Rolling Out Half-Billion Expansion Plan +

  • P.A. Benjamin Manufacturing Company is pouring around half-billion dollars into the expansion of its complex in downtown Kingston where it has operated for 136 years.

    The company needs to expand floor space amid a realignment of its operations to meet international standards.

    The project, estimated at $450 million to $550 million, will incorporate an unused lot nearby P.A. Benjamin's East Street plant.

    Chairman and Chief Executive Errol Powell told Financial Gleaner the vacant lot at 90 Duke Street will be folded into the company's new structure, allowing another 23,000 square feet to be added to the existing 29,800-square-foot complex at East Street.

    But in order to reach its desired floor space, the company will also have to enclose the section of Johns Lane that separates the back of its East Street location and the vacant lot, which the company acquired 30 years ago "in anticipation of the time when we would have to expand our business," Powell said.

    Powell indicated that the current expansion plans have been at least nine years in the making.

    "In 2007, we started planning for this expansion and had the designs done up. Then, in 2008, the Government gave notice of its intention to compulsorily acquire lot as they had a plan to expand Gordon House to incorporate 90 Duke Street, as well as our current building," he said.

    However, with the focus no longer on expanding the parliamentary building, P.A. Benjamin moved ahead with its own plans to spread the plant across the lots, he said.

    Amid the physical upgrades, the manufacturer of food flavours and pharmaceuticals under the Benjamins brand is also lining up to boost production capacity to push for greater exports, the chairman said.

    Powell said the additional space would allow P.A. Benjamin to grow output by about 70 per cent and create a more modern plant able to meet Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and ISO 9000 specifications, among others, he said.

    The 97 East Street location "is now urgently in need of upgrading," he said.

    "The physical size of the East Street property will not allow for the expansion and the Duke Street lot is too small for a stand-alone facility. Integrating both lots will give the total perimeter for the factory needed to meet the FDA and HACCP standards," he said.

    Speaking to the design options for the new plant layout, Powell said the company initially considered creating an overhead bridge or tunnel between the lots but opted for the complete enclosure since this option "is the only working option which will give international approval based on the logic or production and flow".

    P.A. Benjamin was established at its current location in the 1880s. The company boasts that it is oldest company in the Caribbean to have maintained its original place of business. its warehousing facilities, however, are located at Harbour Street and Marcus Garvey Drive, which the chairman said creates logistical challenges.

    P.A. Benjamin manufactures personal care, pharmaceutical and food service products that are sold in Jamaica, Caricom markets, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

    At completion of the expansion project, it is projected that exports will grow some 300 per cent above current capacity in five years, Powell said. Currently, 30 per cent of production is exported, he said.

    "The plant no longer meets existing standards for manufacturing pharmaceutical and food products with regard to modern regulations," said Powell. It is also at peak capacity and needs to grow in output and automation to eliminate the "possibility of contamination," he added.

    Construction is scheduled to begin within three months, provided the requisite permits are obtained within that time, Powell said.

    Staff will be increase to around 83 to 95 "retrained and upgraded" individuals, up from the 75 full time persons currently on the roll. Another 175 jobs are projected during the construction phase.

    Powell also disclosed that he plans to bump up production of veterinary products, with the addition of new machinery.

    "It's not a major area for us now but we are going to expand that line. It's a huge market and most of the veterinary products are now imported so we plan to start manufacturing (more) and reduce the level of imports of veterinary products," he said.

    P.A. Benjamin will also enhance its in-house research and development capabilities, he said, to cut back on the outsourcing of product development.

    "We currently have our own laboratory," said the chairman.

    "We do some of our R&D in-house and we outsource some, but with the expanded facility we are going to do more in-house and less will be outsourced," he said.