Product diversity opens up opportunities for door and window maker.
For Bridgetown, Barbados-based Oran Ltd, opportunity has knocked over its 50-year history. From six employees operating in 4,000 suare feet in 1964, to more than 250 employees in 120,000 square feet of factory space today, the manufacturing company specializing in such aluminum products as doors and windows, has learned to thrive – even among major competition.
“There is a significant amount of competition,” says Justin Oran, the company’s Operations Manager. This includes two other window manufacturers in Barbados and at least one, usually, on each island. In addition, the company competes with product coming in from the United States, Jamaica, and Trinidad.
With that, Oran has had to frame a plan to grow its sales and customer base.
“How do we set ourselves apart? Well, a couple of ways,” Oran says. First, time is on its side. “I don’t think many of these competitors have a 50-year history. So the brand is very strong.” Therefore, the company is sure to market the brand in addition to its products. “We do a lot in terms of customer education,” he adds. “We have close relationships with our customers, with the contractors, with architects, the people who will recommend the products.”
Oran touts itself as being the comprehensive solution for quality aluminum and PVC windows and doors for both residential and commercial use. Starting out, the company produced aluminum furniture, such as lounge chairs, but has since stepped it up to include such modern and innovative products as ladders, sunshades, storefronts, hurricane protection shutters, gutters, security grills, tub and shower enclosures, and architectural solutions for buildings.
“So the process has grown to many stages over the 50-year history,” Oran says.
It’s clear that keeping its product offerings fresh is key.
“To keep things rejuvenated, we introduce new products every couple of years,” Oran says. “A number of the products that we’ve introduced in the last three or four years are really the first of their kind for the Caribbean. Our bi-folding doors, for example, have been very popular. So we grow the product range and hopefully grow the customer base as result.”
This has contributed to the company’s “very diversified product range.”
“We offer some very custom solutions,” he says. “We work alongside the customer, whether he’s a small customer or a big customer, to find a solution that’s right for him in terms of performance and in terms of price point. And where we see opportunities to expand the different product lines that might bolster that ability, we do so. So we’re not afraid of risk and of taking on something new in an effort to educate the market and provide something we think is of value.”
Continually seeking new solutions, the company frequently invests in machinery. “Back in 2006/2007, we were one of the first Caribbean companies to start producing its own insulated glass products,” Oran says. “Most of the time they would be imported from overseas. We’ve gone into CNC (computerized numerical control) equipment. We’ve always looked for ways to improve productivity with either use of new equipment or software, in some cases.”
The company was founded by Marshall and Anita Oran when Justin Oran’s grandfather, who had a mechanical background, moved to Barbados and “saw a need for aluminum furniture,” he says.
“He loved business,” the younger Oran recalls. “He loved working with his hands and taking a hands-on approach. I’m not sure if he knew where we were going to be 50 years later, but he certainly had ambition and sought to see something grow and to create something larger. And that love of business and those values are what led us here today.”
A few years ago, Oran opened a second facility – keeping its production plant in Bridgetown, as well – to process its PVC windows, cut glass and make its glass products.
Oran distributes its products throughout CARICOM (the Caribbean Community, an organization of 15 Caribbean nations and dependencies) and Belize, and to Guyana, in the south, to a variety of customers. Moving out into the broader Caribbean over the years to reach beyond Barbados’ quarter of a million people, has opened new doors for the company.
“We do everything from large hardware stores to construction companies that are purchasing for either residential or commercial projects,” says Oran. The company also deals with smaller hardware stores and companies doing one-off projects for small customers. We operate in all those markets, from the small customer who just wants a few windows, to the distributor that wants 200 windows or a full container of product, to the contractor,” he says.
Oran strives to service all of its customers’ needs, efficiently. One way is by making available parts and components for products manufactured more than 15 years ago that have been discontinued. Another aspect of Oran’s “after-sales service” is the expertise of its service teams.
However, being in business as long as Oran has, has not come without hurdles – such as the U.S. housing crisis, which began in 2007.
“When the housing market had its big bump in the States back in 2007 – they say when the U.S. sneezes, the Caribbean catches a cold. And we definitely caught a cold,” recalls Oran. “It was a very trying time. We had to take a look around us and see what was most important, and in that case, we thought it was preserving jobs in our company. And we took a long-term approach investing and stayed our course, and things … I guess they’re clearing up in the States now in the housing market, and we’re looking forward to something similar down here. So again, you try to not give in to those pressures, but invest smartly, and set yourself on a path so when recovery does take place, you’ll be able to capitalize on it.”
Looking ahead, he says, “I hope things will continue to improve, and we’ll get some growth down here, and you’ll see a lot of the islands kind of come out of the slump that we’ve had over the last few years.
“There’s a lot of investment that needs to take place in the Caribbean,” he says. “Everybody needs to do their part – companies need to invest, companies need to take risk and grow, they need to invest in their employees, and employees need to understand productivity. The government needs to facilitate that. And should all those things come together, and we can all work together, then we’ll see a good result in 2020, I think.”
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Oran Ltd. WHAT: Manufacturer of aluminum doors, windows, furniture and more. WHERE: Corporate headquarters in Bridgetown, Barbados
June 2015, Business View Caribbean
Managing Director Scott Oran sits down with Caribbean Property Magazine and explains the background to the company’s success and its culture going forward.
Oran Limited reached a highly commendable milestone in 2014 with 50 years in business. What does this mean for the company?
The term milestone simply does not do justice to this achievement, nor does it communicate the company’s sense of continuity as we look towards the future. To use a manufacturing term, our performance has been that of a continuous work in progress – building on a strong foundation and not only working hard, but also working smart. We continue to seek ways to develop our potential to the benefit of our employees, the community in which we live and operate and on a larger scale, to positively contribute to the sustainability of our economy.
The company has been established and developed within a strong family structure. Has this been a major contributory factor in your success?
Oran Ltd’s profile as a family business has created a uniquely tangible connection between the owners, employees and customers that you may not find in a more “corporate” like structure of ownership and management. We enjoy a reputation among our stakeholders as being both individually, at the employee level and collectively, at the organizational level, committed to doing the very best we can – it’s a very personal and heartfelt desire to create the best results for all concerned.
Oran products are well known throughout the Caribbean region. Where is your business strongest and do you see further openings in other destinations?
We recognize that we possess a strategic advantage in the CARICOM markets, when compared to extra-regional suppliers of similar products. Therefore, we endeavour to increase our market share in these markets and expand our product offering to effectively cater to this niche. In addition to our experience in manufacturing, the range of products used in the region allows us to value engineer these products, so that they typically perform better than comparable imported products.
How have the tough economic conditions of the last 5-6 years impacted on your business?
The period 2007 through 2014 has been very challenging for our industry. However, we have taken the opportunity to expand some of our services to satisfy more diverse customer needs. We introduced new products that cater to a more sophisticated consumer and reduced our margins on our range of lower cost commodity products used at all levels of the construction industry in order to be more competitive. This was all done while maintaining the high quality image associated with the “Oran” brand. What we’ve done is similar to the approach taken by Mercedes, which caters to the higher end of the market with its ‘S’ Class models while simultaneously catering to the lower end with its more affordable ‘B’ and ‘C’ Classes.
You have a wide range of PVC and aluminum products, but which products have contributed most to your success?
The wide range of solutions we offer to the construction industry demonstrates our strength. We manufacture standard and custom products, upvc and aluminum, multiple frame colours, various glass specifications, custom designed structures for the most discriminating architects in the region, sunshades, bridges, walk ways, railings, fences, ornamental gates, security bars, products for marine application and so many more.
Where are your products manufactured?
Our factory is in Barbados, with two locations close to the Deep Water Harbour, which enables us to efficiently distribute our products through a large network of hardware, building & lumber stores throughout the Caribbean.
Investment in staff appears to be a high priority in the company’s strategy. How has that been achieved?
The personal and professional development of the people in our organization ranks very high on our list of priorities. We have many persons who join us straight out of school with very basic skills, so we strive to promote a culture of productivity within the organization. We say to them, “Be who you want to be when you are not at work, but once you walk through those doors and put on your Oran shirt, you become a part of our culture. You become the representative of a work ethic that will be admired and modeled by your peers.”
Finally, where would you like to see Oran Limited in 50 years time?
My answer to this question has to do with a goal that I was recently introduced to – “We want to be one of the 16%.” There is a statistic that only 16% of companies founded 100 years ago still exist today. While we will certainly not be doing the same things that we are today, we believe that innovation, creativity, and hard work will take us to that next level.
About Scott Oran:
Scott Oran is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Oran Limited, a company founded by his parents Marshall and Anita Oran. He is a visionary and dynamic businessman within the Caribbean manufacturing industry and a strong advocate of making the best use of technology and broadening the company’s product range. He has strong family values and a determination to ensure Oran Limited remains at the forefront of the industry going forward. Scott can be contacted by telephone at 246 436 6863 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
New fixtures and cheerful walls will be greeting the students of Westbury Primary School when the new term begins in less than three weeks’ time.
On Saturday, April 4th, staff of Oran Ltd left their desks and work stations and picked up tools, brushes and cans of paint and spruced up the bathrooms of the St. Michael School. Operations Manager at Oran Ltd., Justin Oran, said staff members formed a social committee last year with a mandate of increasing social engagement within management and staff.
“This is part of an ongoing effort at Oran, not just about volunteerism but to promote social engagement in general,” he said. “A lot of people from the company send their children to Westbury and they felt an obligation to give back,” he added.
Chairman of the Social Committee and Sales Representative at Oran Ltd., Kareem Rowe further explained the idea to refurbish the bathroom came from supervisor Angela Cobham, whose grandchild attends the school.
“Coming to the school over the course of time she realised this was one of the things that needed to be done and she came, brought it to the committee and we said ‘yes, this is something we would look forward to doing,” Rowe said.
Meanwhile, principal Michael Alleyne praised and thanked the staff at Oran. “They came here and asked me what is our priority, so I suggested to them the bathrooms are in a state and they should make that their first priority, ” he said.
“They came and assessed the situation and decided they would replace all the fixtures and also paint the bathrooms so that we will have a good appearance, ” he added.
Principal Alleyne added the school has a roll of 464 students, while parts of the plants could be atleast 100 years old. – Sunday Sun, April 6th 2015 (HLE)
A local manufacturer has given a retired teacher, a small contractor and a clinic clerk three big reasons to smile this Christmas.
Recently, Oran Ltd announced the three winners of its Win A Trip promotion. This year-long promotion was the culmination of the company’s 50th anniversary celebrations, giving customers spending $500BDS or more, the opportunity to win one of three all-inclusive trips to Grenada, Dominica and St. Lucia. The promotion was executed in association with Going Places Travel, a full service travel agency.
Alana Gray, Sales & Marketing Manager of Going Places Travel, was excited to partner with Oran Ltd on this initiative. “We are very proud to be partnered with a great brand like Oran, which has been around for so long and so successfully,” she said.
While announcing the winners, Oran Ltd’s CEO, Scott Oran commented on his company’s longevity, “Technology has made a big difference in the way we do business. Things continue to speed up and become more automated, and that’s why as a company we try to stay abreast of technological developments. But, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the relationship with people. Being able to stay in touch and interact with people – the employees of the company, the suppliers and most importantly the customers – has been the most enjoyable part of this experience thus far.”
The lucky winners, Jeannette Hinds, Alexandre Marcelin and Jacqueline Reid will be heading to Grenada, Dominica and St. Lucia respectively, each taking a companion to enjoy 3-night all-inclusive stays at luxury hotels.
Following the presentation, Oran Ltd’s Justin Oran, Operations Manager and Dennis Cooper, Chief Manufacturing Officer treated the winners to a tour of the company’s factory operations.
LOCAL manufacturer of windows, doors and architectural products, Oran Ltd., is celebrating its 50th anniversary and Operations Manager, Justin Oran, believes that the business has stood the test of time through embracing change, quality products and team work.
Yesterday, while leading a tour of the manufacturing plant in the Harbour Industrial Park, Oran said, “It is not accurate to say manufacturing is dead, it has changed. Oran has been able to grow throughout the years. Where there has been declines, there has also been opportunities for continuous growth. There is a lot of potential in Barbados and CARICOM for manufacturers.
“There are many challenges we face day-to-day as a manufacturing company such as dealing with rising cost, stressed markets, competition in export markets, also how to integrate new technologies, where to place your investment that you can receive the best benefits and also looking at ways to preserve labour. The cost of energy is high in Barbados, we are not a high energy user in comparison to other industries, but we do look at ways to reduce our electricity charges, but also what people can do in their everyday activities to bring down the cost of energy is also something we look at.
“However, we are able to differentiate our products because lot of our products are customised. We use a high level of software that enables us to get a lot of productivity and efficiency. We bring new products to the market and we tap into what the customer wants and we offer the highest quality.”
Increasing export markets Oran said, “We export throughout CARICOM. We are now in Trinidad and it really materialised last year when BIDC and BMA helped us take part in the Trade Investment Convention (TCI) in Trinidad; we were able to pick up a couple of distributors. “Over the last year, sales have grown significantly and things are looking promising and people are quite receptive to our products and we expect to see more growth. Sixty per cent of our production is from the export market. We have 175 employees in production and about 50 more in administration.”
Resuscitating the manufacturing sector While on the tour, Donville Inniss, Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, highlighted: “Fifty years for Oran is indeed a success story for the manufacturing sector in Barbados. To exist for 50 years and see the company evolve with new technology while training staff is excellent. The company would have had trying days and persevered and grown, which is impressive.
“Those that say manufacturing in Barbados is dead, you just need to look at companies like Oran and the products they produce. I do believe manufacturing still has a lot more potential that we need to tap into and as Minister for this sector, I am intent on leading the charge of resuscitating the manufacturing sector.
“Today, the company is exporting approximately 60 per cent of what they produce.This is a company not only providing employment, but is also a good source of foreign exchange for this economy and society.
“It is great to see that this business is passing from one generation to the next, as too many businesses die with the founder and you have a company that has been passed from Oran to son to grandson and granddaughter and that is something to celebrate. It is to heartwarming to be greeted by the founder of the business and he can now sit back and watch is grandson take on leadership of company and that is testimony of the investment the founder has made in the company,” he said. (NB)
THERE IS a growing concern that unemployment in manufacturing could rise if more attention is not given to the development and sustainability of the sector.
To help avoid this, executive director of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA) Bobbi McKay has issued a plea to foreign nationals operating businesses to support local producers.
There was a decrease in employment within the manufacturing sector last yearby 8.1 per cent to 7 660 at the end of December 2012, compared to 8 334 at the end of December 2011.
The services sector recorded a total of 3 105 employees at the end of December 2012, 18.6 per cent or 689 less than 3 704 in 2011, according to information from the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation’s website.
McKay told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that when companies operating here imported items that could be sourced locally, this not only negatively affected employment but also the standard of life, adding that it was critical that Barbadians purchased more locally produced items.
“The money should not only be going out of the country to buy from your own country,” McKay said. “Leave something here because the quality of life we have here right now we want to secure. Barbadians are now unsure about employment because you are importing everything that you need from your home country.”
The BMA executive added: “If you have a supermarket and you have products that are Barbadian and products from your home country give them equal prominence.
Barbadians have to be working to spend money in your institution or business so it doesn’t make sense coming and investing here and you are not ensuring that you care about the quality of life you are enjoying.”
Chief executive officer of Oran Limited, Scott Oran, in a separate interview, said he believed manufacturing could play a greater role in growing the local economy.
He said that despite the various challenges within the sector, “it doesn’t mean it is lost forever. It just means there needs to be a mindset to really develop [it].
“Many people think of just tourism as the industry but manufacturing is a very viable strategy for the future in terms of finding employment and bringing more skills to the population,” said Oran.
The president of the BMA, David Foster, said that while the sector could do with a lot more attention in developing it, other areas needed to be addressed as well.
“Not just manufacturing, the whole agriculture sector needs far more attention,” he said.
“Food security is something we certainly need to look at. It starts from the agricultural sector and that leads into processing which then becomes part of the manufacturing sector.”
Foster, who is the managing director of Roberts Manufacturing, said he welcomed any incentive to assist producers.
In this connection, the executive said he welcomed any tax breaks that could be extended to the sector.
McKay disclosed that the BMA had put together a number of recommendations that the Minister of Finance could include in the Budget, expected this summer, which could assist players in the sector.
“Something as simple as the removal of VAT on solar water heaters will increase sales. Something simple as giving manufactures the opportunity to produce furniture for schools will give them the opportunity to justify keeping staff employed,” she said. (MM)
The local manufacturing sector continues to take a beating as a result of the slowdown in construction and the persistent effects of the global recession.
But operators of at least one local firm, Oran Limited, said that despite the tough environment they were continuing to hold their own both locally and regionally.
Operations manager Justin Oran said that as a result of the slowdown in business for the company which manufactures doors, ladders and windows among other products, they had embarked on a number of mitigation strategies.
Among the measures taken were the incorporation of new technologies and an expansion in the product offering.
“For the past two years we have been involved in very heavy discounting,” Oran said. “Part of that is for two reasons: One is to maintain jobs. The second is to try and grow our market share and encourage customers to purchase from Oran Limited.
“We should be looking to continue with this strategy. For the most part that has kept things afloat and moving in this period of decline. But we are optimistic and will see how things pan out in the next year or two,” added Oran.
The company currently exports to ten regional countries including Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas and Guyana.
Noting that there had been increased competition in all these markets, Oran said: “In each of the markets we have seen a general slowdown. Barbados hasn’t been the only one.”.
Oran Limited currently employs 220 people, about half of whom are female.
Oran was speaking during an open house last Friday, which forms a part of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association’s (BMA) buy-local campaign. (MM)
Oran Ltd. is partnering with Besam automatic doors as an authorised fabricator/distributor of Besam products to the Caribbean market.
Besam is a subsidiary of ASSA Abloy, a globally recognised corporation specialising in the design and supply of door hardware. Besam automatic has been in the automatic door business for over 45 years and has developed state-of-the-art doors designed for high-traffic retail spaces, retrofit projects, and intensive and critical care units. The company currently boasts its status as the global leader in automatic door sales.
Oran Ltd. and Besam share a strategic vision that emphasises product driven offerings to meet the needs of its customers and a long history in their respective industries. Through their cooperation Oran ltd. and Besam automatic doors will offer a range of services to the CARICOM market to help business create energy savings and add value through the use of automatic door products.