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Gray's Pepper

The path of the entrepreneur is never smooth and is certainly not for the feint hearted.   Andrew Gray, of Gray’s Pepper Products Ltd, based in Westmoreland, will be the first to tell you that this path is rocky, steep, and that when at times it appears to be level; it can quickly turn into rugged terrain.    For this reason, he is very careful to identify and address the opportunities and risks of the immediate, medium and long term.  This foresight has kept the company on sure footing by capitalizing on services and products offered by the EXIM Bank. “EXIM provided working capital which allowed us to purchase excess pepper to carry us through the “famine” periods when local pepper supply was low,” Mr. Gray said. 
           
The factory is able to process one million pounds of pepper per annum and is the second largest agri-business of its kind in Jamaica. “We have a first world operation in Jamaica and our processing plant is fully automated.   By upgrading our operations, we were able to become a more reliable and consistent supplier of finished products,” Mr. Gray shared.  To get to this remarkable point Mr. Gray accessed working capital loans under the Bank’s Co-Pack facility, used largely to purchase raw material. Today, agro-processors like Gray’s Pepper Products, can access similar Jamaica Dollar loans, both short and medium term, at rates as low as 10% p.a. 
    
In over 43 years of operations, the company has developed premium and world famous sauces including: Gray’s Spicy Sauce; Grays’s Habanero Pepper Sauce and Gray’s Hot Pepper Sauce.  The brand has won local and international awards, including the Mande Selection Competition in 1982. The factory’s lab is also approved by the Bureau of Standards to test its own products.
           
Although, there is much to be proud of, Mr. Gray cautions, “We still have our challenges but with the continued help from EXIM we expect to overcome. We are aware that we cannot afford to become complacent so are at all times looking to further modernize our plant to become more competitive globally.”   He encourages entrepreneurs to talk with EXIM Bank even when they do not think their balance sheet is attractive.
            “I qualified for an EXIM loan during a period when we were operating at a loss.  Yet they were willing to work with us. I appreciate the fact that they are not carte blanche about how they analyze clients’ situations but deal with each on a case by case basis.  This is important because entrepreneurs need that kind of flexibility.”