Corp America March 2017

52 CORP AMERICA / MARCH 2017 , Monique Hamaty-Simmonds talks to us about the family-founded business she nowheads up, its origins and how it was nearly all over in 2004. Let Them Eat Cake! The Tortuga brand was founded 33 years ago by Jamaican Robert Hamaty and his wife Carlene. From the day they introduced Tortuga rum cakes, made from Carlene’s family recipe, there has been no turning back! The cake and the company have grown wings and continue to soar to new heights. In fact, in December, 2016 Tortuga International Holdings Limited officially opened its 14-thousand square feet bakery in Kingston, Jamaica, which has been purpose built and fitted for the production of Tortuga’s world famous rum cake. It has also been certified at the Safe Quality Foods (SQF) Level II, one of the highest levels of food safety and quality designation a food manufacture can achieve. This new state-of-the art bakery is capable of producing two million pounds of Tortuga rum cakes per year and is a collective effort and achievement for Tortuga International Holdings and its parent company, the 88-year-old Jamaica Producers Group. The award-winning Tortuga Rum Cakes are sold in gift shops on-board more than 100 cruise liners sailing the Caribbean seas and the Princess Cruise liner has added the Caribbean-flavoured product on all its European voyages. Since Christmas 2015, the Tortuga Rum Cakes have been on the shelves of Costco and Sam’s Club – two of the largest retailers in the USA. Monique Hamaty-Simmonds is director of brand development for Tortuga International Holdings Ltd and has been a part of the company since its inception, contributing in the areas of sales and marketing. Her current role entails ensuring that the Tortuga brand is a leader in the market place, as well as seeking out and securing new markets for the firm. “In 2010, our company partnered with the Jamaica Producers Group with a focus to grow the brand internationally. As the director of brand development I have been privileged to work with a team of dynamic and experienced marketing experts and look forward to the Tortuga brand expanding further in the international market place.” Monique believes that staying up-to-date with the latest technology and emerging trends in the industry ensures that Tortuga’s products and services remain innovative and best- selling in the market. “As we seek to grow the brand, it is imperative that we keep up with technology as a means of communicating with the world; reduce overheads and increase operational efficiencies, with the objective of increasing productivity aimed towards competitiveness, all of this while maintaining a quality product, which is now known as The World’s Best Rum Cake! “Our new state-of-the bakery ensures our products are top quality and our customer service is second-to-none. In addition, we are proud of the fact that we are compliant with global food safety, but staying relevant in our new product development strategies and marketing is of paramount importance and this is often done by consumer feedback from surveys conducted in our stores as well as other retail partner stores throughout the Caribbean and Florida market.” As an award-winning leader, Monique has faced many challenges throughout her career, but none as devastating as the 2004 incident which left the company reeling, but also highlighted the diligence and dedication of its employees. “The most difficult time was on September 11 2004 when Hurricane Ivan - a Category 5 storm - hit the Cayman Islands and devastated our main factory,” explains Monique. “This crippled our company’s operations and destroyed products which should have gone to market during that critical time of year leading up to Christmas. “We opened our warehouse as a relief centre and our staff volunteered their time to work without pay for about four weeks, until we were able to set up a shift system for production in Barbados to serve our various markets. “This was a clear indication of the commitment of our staff to our brand and that they were willing to work together to get the business back up and running. In addition, the staff also got involved in community activities to assist the people of the Cayman Islands to survive the devastation. Some of these employees are still with the company today.” With regards to the future for Tortuga, Monique tells us that the sky is the limit! “I love surrounding myself with bright, articulate, artistic, energetic and enthusiastic people, so maybe I’ll be in the passenger seat, while someone else is driving or, perhaps, I will keep on driving. Change is the one constant in life and if the company is not growing then it will die. And, that’s not an option! “With the great team, we have in place, our growth and opportunity potential is enormous, so whatever role I play in the organization will be the right one at the right time. “My family started this business 33 years ago and the commitment to see it flourish is in my blood. I’m focused on its success. My grandfather once told me that the only place you will find the word “success” before the word “work” is in the dictionary. He said it takes a lot of work to be successful, but it must be thoughtful work. Spend your time wisely.” K Company: Tortuga International Holdings Ltd. Contact: Monique Hamaty-Simmonds Address: P.O. Box 10395 Grand Cayman Islands BWI KY1-1004 Email: [email protected] Telephone: +1 345 815 7202 Website: 1701CA52