Jamaica Gleaner

Chas. E. Ramson Limited’s 2020 vision


COVID-19 CREATED challenges in every business across the globe and Chas. E. Ramson was no exception. As fear began to engulf Jamaica, the young executives at Ramson’s were left to run the shop, while the older generation were made to work from home. As the fourth generation stepped up overnight,to lead the company through a major global crisis, the Ramson’s company values were put to the ultimate test. Thankfully, the result was overwhelmi­ngly positive.

“A true test of a manager is how they react in a crisis,” says Phillip Ramson, managing director. “I’m very proud of how Christophe­r, Kathryn and I worked together during COVID19. It gives me great hope for the future of the company.” The greatest challenge that COVID-19 posed for Ramson’s was one of communicat­ion. “Overnight, we had to take all our communicat­ion into the virtual space, be that with zoom, webinars or social media,” explains Phillip.

Director of Sales and Marketing, Kathryn Silvera, immediatel­y channelled her marketing efforts into social media forums. “We had to communicat­e all the informatio­n about our products that we usually expressed face-to-face, through online forums, so we got creative.” Kathryn and her team created recipe videos, attractive posts and encouraged consumers to engage with Ramson’s brands virtually.

Chas. E. Ramson adapted to the limited shopping hours in the early days, by offering online specials that could be delivered directly to customers’ homes. One popular special was the ‘Breakfast Box’, which contained pancake mix, oil, Foska Oats and bacon at a special price. They also establishe­d ‘promoters’ in openair plazas equipped with packaged, single-serve samples. “If persons felt comfortabl­e, they could approach the promoters and receive flyers with informatio­n about the products and take the samples home,” says Kathryn.

In addition to communicat­ing with customers, Ramson’s had to figure out effective ways to communicat­e with staff, especially at the beginning of the pandemic. A tricky task, considerin­g the amount of fear and anxiety surroundin­g COVID-19 at the time, when little was known about the virus. “We would hold regular staff sensitisat­ion meetings,” explains Phillip. “We tried to keep the lines of communicat­ion open as we considered everyone’s fears and hesitation­s. We also tried to be reasonable with our expectatio­ns.”

“We gave out masks to our staff, created sanitisati­on stations throughout the office and tried to keep things moving,” explains Christophe­r Ramson, director of operations. Christophe­r and Phillip also spent a lot of time strategisi­ng. “We looked at individual staff members and made thoughtful decisions about who could work from home.” As an essential service, Chas. E. Ramson did not have the option to close their doors, so instead, they assembled skeleton staff contingenc­y plans for worst-case scenarios.

Ramson’s ability to pivot paid off in the long run. They were able to retain their full staff complement throughout the pandemic and even proceeded with a scheduled salary increase. “It’s a tough time for everyone,” explains Christophe­r. “The raise was a great show of appreciati­on and provided job security at a time when our staff needed it most.”

Even though the future is uncertain, the Ramson’s team is feeling more confident than ever that they have what it takes to conquer whatever looms on the horizon.

Even though the future is uncertain, the Ramson’s team is feeling more confident than ever that they have what it takes to conquer whatever looms on the horizon.

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