The nominees are among the top CEOs in Jamaica. At first blush, Jeffrey Hall seems a bit of an industrial relations oddity. His Ivy League credentials charted a pathway to the arcane world of high-finance and should have kept him tethered to that universe. But Hall unmoored himself with aplomb, and for a decade the tangible business of juice and condiment production, wharfing operation, and shipping has had forex factory delta one class him a special breed of advocate.
Dr Marshall Hall’s stewardship at Producers Group preceded that of his son, and Jeffrey would no doubt have borne witness to the seismic shifts in global trade arrangements and the existential threat they constantly posed to the company he would later come to lead. It was the father who undertook the early heavy lifting as the former banana producer and marketing company lurched from one product and business line to the other in order to remain viable in a global marketplace that was as predictable and stable as quicksand. The elder Hall weathered the storm, but by the time he handed over custody to Jeffrey, in 2007, they had all but yielded to Mother Nature and to the inexorable market forces which dictated that banana planting and marketing — the company’s essential identity for all of its existence — would no longer be its core activity. Producers Group now has a healthy balance sheet. The 2016 profit represents an astonishing 37. 8 per cent return on equity, 32.
5 per cent return on sales, and 13. 2 per cent return on assets. While it is true that last year’s performance was heavily weighted by one-off gains, what is also undeniable is that those gains were ultimately undergirded by a series of judgement calls by Hall, the board, and his management team during prior years. 50 partnership with Pan Jamaican Investments. 650 million in 2016 from the sale of its shareholding, realising a five-year average annual return of 65 per cent. JP’s deep dive into Kingston Wharves, between 2012 and 2014, led to the eventual consolidation of the wharfing entity on its balance sheet in 2016 and a one-off booking in part to reflect the fact that the value that JP had on its books for the porting asset was way below its actual worth. The difference, treated as a one-off gain, was a reward for the earlier investment.
Indeed, the stage was set for the aforementioned investments and last year’s gains when JP sold its UK-based JP Fruit Distributors Ltd in 2006 — a primary example of a holding that was rich in asset but inefficient in converting its underlying value and capital outlay into shareholder profit. Hall in explaining how these momentous decisions are made at his organisation. The CEO leaves little doubt about his own centrality and that of his senior management team to this important process. Producers Group started shipping bananas to Great Britain in 1929.
The original core business now accounts for only five per cent of sales, but Hall sees in its history a deep affinity with international business that he has vowed to exploit. I have been able to use transactional skills, leadership and governance to rebuild the international components of the business for the current times All of the businesses that we have acquired or developed under my leadership have an international component. As Hall himself observes, Kingston Wharves fits this model well because of its major trans-shipment business, its international partners and customers. The Mavis Bank Coffee Factory was already an exporter when it was acquired in 2011 and the partnership quickly moved to strengthen its export relationships in Japan and Europe. 90 per cent of its sales is to leading travel retailers in the USA and the Caribbean, with production centres in Barbados, Cayman, and a distribution centre in USA. The snack business has developed a major share of its production and sales in the Spanish-language Caribbean.
The UK-based RAM Shipping business now serves the entire English-speaking Caribbean. Producers Group is a complex organisation with six major business segments providing services from shipping and wharfing, to food and beverage manufacturing and distribution. Each has its own general manager who reports to Hall. The net result is that this is one CEO in perpetual motion.
Our group finance director is also integral to these meetings. We try to meet at the site of the business when possible and this takes me to most of the seven countries in which we have operations at least once per year with an extended visit to the larger locations about three or four times per year. There is also the matter of the main board, with its four regularly scheduled annual meetings, its annual planning session, meeting to review shareholder issues and concerns in advance of the AGM, as well as the inescapable obligation of the CEO to interact with a wide range of other stakeholders. Then there is the added responsibility and governance-related commitments of chairing the board of Kingston Wharves — a listed company in which JP holds a major share and since 2016 has been incorporated in JP’s financial statements. An important but often understated and under-recognised dimension of the CEO’s role in a company as diversified and dynamic as JP is the relationship that Hall forges with the chairman outside of the boardroom — an unwritten duty that he seems to relish. Charlie Johnston is a seasoned board chair who knows the company extremely well, having served as a director for over 30 years.
He is also highly vested in the success of the business. This makes for a very efficient, spirited, high trust and open working relationship between him and me, and between both of us and the board. If Hall comes across as ebullient and brimming with self-confidence that’s in part because he has earned it and his skill set is arguably tailor-made to meet the demands of his organisation and to face off with his teams up and down the organisational chart with matching intellect and experience. When he joined the organisation in 2002 he brought with him a degree from Harvard Law School, Harvard University, where he graduated with honours. Harvard University, where he was awarded the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship.
Prior to that, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from a lesser-known, but nonetheless Ivy Leaguer — Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. He graduated summa cum laude from this programme. He is a member of the US-based Phi Beta Kappa Honour Society for overall academic excellence and the Omicron Delta Epsilon Honour Society for academic excellence in Economics. His Jamaican sojourn began at the Financial Sector Adjustment Company where he helped negotiate the restructuring of some of Jamaica’s largest banking and life insurance groups. 30-million private equity fund focused on investing in the Caribbean region. One would have thought that with such invaluable antecedents, and given his known familial connection to the Producers Group, that this organisation would have been chasing after the young Hall.