The GraceKennedy Group took another step towards realising its vision of becoming a Global Consumer Group on Monday, October 7, when it officially opened its brand new Grace/La Fe facility in Woodbridge, New Jersey. The facility, which cost the company some US$5M, will drive increased operating facilities and reduce costs, while having the teams centrally located under one roof.
At the opening event, GraceKennedy Group CEO, Don Wehby noted the company’s 97 year history and its global aspirations. “To realise this vision of becoming a Global Consumer Group, we determined that we needed to have our own company in the US, because of the size and potential of this market. In doing our due diligence we recognized that there is a closeness and many similarities between the Jamaican and other Caribbean islands, and the Latin American cultures. Both have a unique spirit and passion that translates to every aspect of our lives. Family values are paramount and we share a real passion for good food. In fact, food is an integral part of all our celebrations. We were able to find a great match in the La Fe brand being a strong Hispanic brand and this journey started in 2013. Since then, both the Grace and La Fe brands have experienced significant growth year on year,” he said.
GK International Foods CEO, Mrs Andrea Coy, advised that the US$5M invested, facilitated the construction of a custom-built 125,000 square foot facility, which she said, boasted a modern layout, and was fully compliant with all health and safety requirements. “This facility will enable us to better serve our loyal partners and customers, which is of paramount importance to us,” she added.
In stating his confidence that the investment would pay off, GraceKennedy Chairman, Professor Gordon Shirley noted how happy he was to see the team in their new, modern and efficient space. “We have the best and brightest young persons working to grow the Grace and La Fe brands, and I am confident we will see the returns on our investment, achieved through our most important investment – human capital,” he said.
The breakfast event saw some 70 guests in attendance, among them GraceKennedy Directors Gina Phillipps Black and Everton McDonald, Chief Corporate Secretary and Legal Counsel, Mrs Gail Moss-Solomon, CHRO, Mrs Naomi Holness, CFO, Mr Andrew Messado and GraceKennedy International Foods Business CEO, Mrs Andrea Coy. GKUS CEO, Derrick Reckord served as the event’s emcee, with Jamaica’s Consul General to New York, Mrs Alison Roach-Wilson, bringing greetings.
Mr Wehby told the attendees that he firmly believed that GKUSA had the potential to be the number one or two Hispanic brand in the USA. “If we stay the course, increase our efficiencies and focus on innovation, together we can achieve this goal. This business is of critical importance to our vision of becoming a Global Consumer Group. We have operated this company for over five years and since inception, I have said that our GraceKennedy USA operations, through our Grace and La Fe brands, will be a game changer for the GraceKennedy Group. Standing here today at the opening of this great facility, seeing the team sitting here before me, I feel that more strongly than ever. And I am very proud,” he said.