The Derrimon story is anything but ordinary. It describes how one entrepreneur, built a commodities distribution company which, in just 10 years, had become one of the leading distributors of consumer products in Jamaica.
Derrick Cotterell, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Derrimon, was careful not to take credit for Derrimon’s success. At every step of the Derrimon story, there were strange “coincidences” and unimaginably fortuitous opportunities that Derrick and his team could only attribute to “the grace of God.” Additionally, Derrimon – named after Derri-ck and Mon-ique Cotterell – has succeeded through the efforts of an entire family and committed team members.
In 1998, Derrick imported several containers of granulated sugar to supply manufacturers of syrup. The venture was successful and profitable and so, encouraged by his good fortune, Derrick quickly expanded his reach. Despite the early success however, he was forced to back-off his new endeavour and refocus his energies on managing Cotterell’s Texaco, a gas station owned and operated by the Cotterell family.
the nestle era
It was not until four years later that Derrimon, in its current form kicked into high gear.
In 2002 Derrick got word that Nestle was seeking to contract distributors. Neslte, the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company, was changing its market strategy. The company wanted to give greater focus to a few select accounts, and have its remaining accounts handled by regional sub-distributors.
Derrick sought out the opportunity, and after consultations with Nestle, the recently formalized and relatively unknown company – Derrimon Trading – was chosen to be one of Nestlé’s four regional sub distributors in Jamaica. Derrimon received responsibility for the Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Catherine and St. Thomas markets.
the rice trade
Improving Derrimon’s Operations
The Nestle contract brought about the formal start of Derrimon and ensured the steady expansion of the business from year to year. At that point however, Derrick saw the need to enhance Derrimon’s efficiency in distributions and ensure more effective market penetration.
To strengthen the team, Winston Thomas, a longstanding veteran in the business of distribution, with over 27 years of solid experience – at GraceKennedy, Lascelles de Mercado and Pepsi Jamaica – was appointed as Derrimon’s General Manager.
In short order, with both Derrick and Winston fully focused on the business, Derrimon concretized improvements to its operations. It was now ready for the next level.
Entering the Rice Field
It was clear that Nestle products, by themselves, could not create the success of which Derrimon dreamed. Increasingly, the itch to diversify, to innovate and to expand became unbearable.
Nestle; thankfully, was not opposed to the idea of Derrimon diversifying its clientele.
With all lights on green, Derrimon quickly began to explore the option of importing rice, and in October 2006, the fateful first container of rice was imported
After selling the first container, another batch was quickly imported, and so it continued. The orders rapidly escalated from one container of rice per month, to multiple, and soon Derrimon became synonymous with rice. The secret to Derrimon’s success in the rice field was simple: unmatched dependability in availability and distribution.
Two years after first entering the rice market, the itch to innovate and expand returned with fierce urgency. Rice alone, like Nestle products before it, would not be enough to create the success of which the team at Derrimon dreamed. Derrimon entered the cold storage market in 2008 and by early 2009 was able to establish its own cold storage division offering items such as offals, seafood and mutton to name a few.
establishing the board of directors
In 2009 Derrimon Trading established its board of directors. Derrick Cotterell, Derrimon’s Founder & Chief Executive Officer, was appointed chairman. The other appointees to board were Monique Cotterell, Ian Kelly, Winston Thomas and Attorney-at-Law Alexander Williams, as an external director. President of the Airport Authority of Jamaica and Chief Executive Officer of the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) Limited, Earl Anthony Richards, was subsequently appointed as an external director.
Sampars Cash And Carry
In April 2009, shortly after Derrimon moved into cold storage operations, another leap of faith would see Derrimon expanding outside the bounds of mere distribution and into the realm of wholesaling.
An Opportunity Achieved by Trust
The very way in which Derrimon came to acquire Sampars Cash and Carry speaks volumes of the company that had only been operating for 11 years at the time.
In the latter part of 2008, the then owner of Sampars Cash and Carry, Sam Richards, contacted Derrimon. He wanted to sell his business, but not simply to the highest bidder. Sam wanted to sell particularly to Derrimon. He had done business with both Derrick and Winston in the past and subsequently, he had heard of Derrimon’s success – particularly with rice.
It was clear that the Derrimon name had become, and was increasingly becoming recognized throughout the entire industry. Beyond mere recognition however, the Derrimon name was being trusted.
Making The Deal
Despite Sam’s confidence and direct offer, the Sampars deal was very cautiously brokered. Derrimon is very deliberate in all its activities. The company had to grapple with the timing of opportunity as Derrimon had just recently tossed its hat into the cold storage arena.
In April 2009, Derrimon decided to acquire Sampars Cash and Carry so as to expand the company’s reach in down markets of the retail food trade.
The one consistent theme spanning the existence of Derrimon Trading Company, from its inception until today is: growth.
When Derrimon started distributing for Nestle in 2002, it had less than 1,000 sq ft of storage space at his disposal. For years the lack of adequate storage space would be a major and recurring obstacle for the company, but at every step of the way, God provided in amazing fashion.
First, there was Derrick’s mother Monica Bell, who was running her own business in Kingston at the time. Monica allowed Derrick to store goods in her warehouse when needed. Derrimon’s imports outgrew the space in a flash however, and more space was required.
In November 2007, Derrimon found warehouse space at 8-10 Ashenheim Road. Amazingly, though Derrimon only rented a 2,500 sq ft space, the owner of the complex allowed the company access to an adjoining 45,000 sq ft warehouse. Still, there were greater blessings in store for the company.
Finally in 2009, Derrimon was alerted that prime warehousing facilities were available at 235 Marcus Garvey Drive. The complex – approximately 100,000 sq. ft. of warehousing facilities, spread across 3.5 acres of land – was large enough for Derrimon to have its warehouse and offices together as the company had always wanted. Amazingly, by what some would call coincidence, the space was also owned by the same landlord from whom Derrimon leased Sampars Cash and Carry.
That is, essentially, how Derrimon came to 235 Marcus Garvey Drive.