What is your claim to fame? Education can get you so far unless you are prepared to work that education to your advantage. The time limit you choose to put on yourself in achieving your goals is all good and well. However, many fail to realise that Rome was not built in a day. Neither is the road paved identically. Therefore the question returns, what is your claim to fame?
I find people in general look at someone and make assumptions about their financial luggage, whether it is heavy, light or plain empty. We are not interested in the story which must have a beginning, the journey before the NOW. In fact we much rather focus on what we see now and then make a determination as to whether the financial luggage/suitcase is heavy, light or empty. I say Rome was not built in a day, and yes that is well known, however, our microwave way of thinking shoots any reference to that analogy through the doors. Instead we focus on the fast food livity and have no time to even glance at the hard working Ireland’s in our midst. As we do with segregation, we deem ‘profession’ to be an elite trade. There are some jobs that evoke pride in oneself and there are those that evoke ridicule from the masses. Never does it cross our minds, often enough, that a bag juice seller could one day become the BOSS MAN. The cleaner, domestic help could one day be running a recruitment agency employing workers to fill that need. Many of them do not even see that for themselves, yet Ireland knew he was not going to remain a bag juice seller. No for to do so, it would cause us to accept that our beginnings, humble or otherwise does not and cannot define you unless you claim it to be. Those who either look up, or look down on you really do not matter in the bigger streams of life. The only important factor is what you believe and how you feel about self.
Ireland’s story depicts just that. He was an entrepreneur from the age of 9. His class mates and many others were clueless. Unfortunately until we open our minds and fill our thoughts with wholesome food and not junk, there will be fewer Ireland’s achieving success in a way that can truly inspire others. Our pride has become misplaced. We are not too proud to beg or steal, but too proud to do what or mates or strangers may deem lowly.
From bag juice beginnings, Ireland grows fresh produce empire
(Jamaica Observer) Sunday, August 21, 2016 11 Comments
Greenhouse sweet pepper farmer in Mile Gully Side, Manchester, Steve Johnson prepares produce for Ireland’s Farmers and Farm Supplies
“David Ireland a sell bag juice!” Those were the words echoed across St Andrew Primary School when one of Ireland’s schoolmates saw him selling in the Coronation Market in downtown Kingston.
Evidently, this intimidated the 9-year-old, who was subject to much ridicule thereafter by his peers. But little did they know that Ireland would be operating a highly profitable fruit and vegetable distribution business one day.
What started out as a means to obtain supplementary income to send himself and his brothers to school and to assist his mother who was also a vendor in the market, quickly turned into a sustainable operation – one which now serves more than 20 hotels and restaurants in Kingston and St Andrew.
“I’m from very humble beginnings. My brother, who is older than I am, sold bag juice in Kingston before moving on to sell ground provisions in the market. Back then people would ask me to supply restaurants and I saw an opportunity where I could make a profit from doing that. Anything I didn’t have I could get from fellow sellers in the market,” Ireland told the Jamaica Observer during a round-table in interview recently.
The business, registered as Ireland’s Farmers and Farm Supplies, distributes all kinds of produce including hard-to- get items like strawberries, kiwis, romaine lettuce, coloured sweet peppers, zucchini, irish potato and yellow squash in the order of up to 3,000 pounds per week. The business is operated from his home in Patrick City.
Ireland’s Farmers and Farm Supplies’ biggest customers are the Spanish Court Hotel, Knutsford Court Hotel, Pegasus Hotel, Courtleigh Hotel, Eden Gardens, Terra Nova Hotel and Christar Villa along with corporate office canteens, Chinese restaurants and fine gifts distributor, All Wrapped Up.
But getting the business off the ground was not an easy task.
“The transition from selling downtown to supplying restaurants started when someone introduced us to buying produce from farmers in the country. The individual had a bus and would go to country and buy fresh produce at lower prices,” the 34-year-old told
“Back then the loan agency Fortune Corporation provided vendors with the option to take in their purchases and credit note books and they could receive a loan to purchase a vehicle. I asked my mom to apply for the loan and she was a bit hesitant, but I eventually convinced her that it would work.”
By this time, Ireland was approaching age 17, and under the law could not operate the vehicle on his own. His older brother had migrated shortly before they acquired the vehicle, thus Ireland and his mother took the decision to hire a driver who would assist with locating the farmers.
Things were off to a slow start, but that was about to change when he was approached by the operator of a Chinese restaurant on the Pavilion Mall in Kingston. Today, Ireland supports more than 40 farmers across the island in carrying out the operations of his business. He also employs six people to ensure efficiency in business transactions.
And there is room for more growth as Ireland eyes an acquisition for next March.
“We definitely will be growing. Someone that I currently purchase produce from will be retiring, so he opted to sell me the business,” he said. “However, this individual is in the business of importation. Produce that we don’t have locally like American apples, grapes; that’s the business that they are in and so we would purchase those produce from him.”
The acquisition would result in the growth of Ireland’s customer base to include individuals who supply Burger King and Restaurants of Jamaica, operators of KFC and Pizza Hut. What’s more, the acquisition would require Ireland to hire an additional 20 people to support the business venture.
“The business also supplies many hotels and supermarkets island-wide, so once I purchase it my business will start seeing much more growth,” Ireland continued. “This is what I want to do, I’ve never done a nine to five job and I don’t have any plans to do that, so I’m giving this business my all and I also believe in this country.”
The past student of Denham Town High School in downtown Kingston noted that his ultimate dream is to build his market locally, and to eventually get a toehold into the exportation of locally grown fruits and vegetables.
“That would be a dream come true. I’ve always been supplying produce to individuals who export. I do a lot of business with farmers in St Thomas that have acres of scotch bonnet peppers and I also consider bananas. But before all of that, I’d like to cement business relations here in Jamaica before moving overseas,” Ireland said.