Sydney Thwaites has been elected new leader of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), replacing outgoing two-term president John Mahfood.
Thwaites’ appointment was a unanimous decision was yesterday’s (September 20) during its annual general meeting (AGM) held at the National Commercial Bank (NCB) Sports Complex.
Thwaites, a respected entrepreneur, is the co-founder and CEO of Lubricating Specialties Company Jamaica, which operates two manufacturing facilities including a modern laboratory with deep water access and close proximity to shipping ports.
The JMEA, in a statement, indicated that Mahfood served the association with excellence and is recognised for fervently championing the needs of the membership and with a passion for advocating for the growth and development of the Jamaican micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) sector.
“During his tenure, the association signed a MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the JSE (Jamaica Stock Exchange) to drive the number of manufacturing companies listed on the stock market and with the VM Group to establish a group pension scheme for the industry. Under Mahfood’s leadership, Expo Jamaica returned in 2023 after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the organisation noted.
Thwaites comes to the table as a seasoned business leader, with a career spanning 28 years in the financial services, petrochemicals, and consulting industries. In 2015 and 2016 he served as an advisory committee member for the Export Import (EXIM) Bank of the United States.
Additionally, with his over three years of service on the JMEA board of directors, through his appointments as deputy president and treasurer, Thwaites has proven to be a valued addition to the association’s leadership team.
In his acceptance speech, Thwaites affirmed that the mandate and priorities of the association remain unchanged. He pledged to carry forward the initiatives initiated by past presidents, Richard Pandohie and John Mahfood. He emphasised that the domestic manufacturing sector does not require any novel strategies; instead, it simply needs a steadfast commitment to our current approach.
He encouraged the membership to utilise the JMEA as a tool to engage and collaborate. Thwaites stated, “the era of keeping our cards closed and not openly sharing our successes and challenges has passed; we cannot conduct business in such a manner.”
Deputy president of the association is now Kathryn Silvera, director of sales and marketing at Caribbean Foods Limited, who assumes the role from Thwaites. Robert Scott, general manager at Lifespan Company Limited was re-elected as treasurer.
Nine director positions became available during the election of the new JMEA board.
The successful candidates were: Cecil Foster, Managing Director at FosRich Group of Companies; Novlet Green, general manager at ARC Manufacturing Limited; Lisa Johnston, corporate affairs manager at Jamaica Producers Group; Marc Frankson, operations manager at Designs by Marc; Aswad Morgan, director of the Morgan’s Group; David Martin, director business consultant at Pan Jamaica Group; Tamii Brown, general manager at Salada Foods; Stephen Bell, vice president at Seaport Marine and John Minott, managing director at Jamaica Standard Products Limited.
In addition to the nine newly elected directors, the following candidates retained their positions, now forming the JMEA’s board of directors for 2023-2024: Andrew Wildish, general manager, Grace Foods Processing, Canning Division; Richard Coe, managing director, Fleetwood Jamaica; Kareema Muncey, managing director, Home Choice Enterprise Limited; Jerome Miles, general manager, Rainforest Seafoods; Clover Moodie, chief financial officer, Kingston Wharves Limited; Stephen Dawkins, group export manager, Wisynco Group Limited; Christopher Powell, director/factory manager, P. A. Benjamin Manufacturing Co. Ltd; Brett Wong, managing director, Coldfield Manufacturing; Sandra McLeish, managing director, Sankhard Company Limited.