When someone takes a bite of one of your specially prepared dishes and you hear them exclaim, “Oh my, this is amazing! What did you use?” It definitely makes you feel like a gourmet chef. And that is exactly the kind of irresistible mystery that UMAMI Products bring to your everyday cooking.
Established by Chris Persaud and his loving wife Chanchal, the UMAMI brand is fast becoming a household name for its unique aroma, tasty blend and most of all, that “x” factor it brings to any dish.
With years of experience under his belt in culinary engineering, the Persauds are certainly on their way to a having a multimillion dollar corporation that will be a hit beyond these shores.
Mr. Persaud recently conducted an interview with the News Room and gave an insight into the world of UMAMI and how it all got started.
Here is an extract of that interview with the 35-year-old.
News Room (NR): How did you get in the business you have established and for how long has it been in existence?
Chris Persaud (CP): UMAMI inc was established in 2013. With a theoretical background acquired in obtaining degree in Chemistry, I sought to establish a firm practical grasp in industry since I always knew that science is taught whilst business is learnt. As such, I migrated to the region and gathered experience in the food industry which was a perfect match for the scientific background. After a decade of working outside Guyana, I decided to come home to give back to my country after recognizing the need for additional products “Made in Guyana” with high quality and presentation.
NR: Why did you select that name for your business?
CP: The name UMAMI is Japanese in origin and translates to pleasant taste. The five circles on the brand represent the five senses of taste being sweet, sour, salt, bitter and of course UMAMI. The color of the circles represents the national colors.
NR: How do you balance family life and your business?
CP: By delegating authority to managers and respecting the autonomy they deserve allows me time to focus on areas of expansion and family time. The staff of UMAMI has the authority to make decisions in the interest of the business, thereby effectively leading to rapid decision making and a more responsive and enhanced customer service.
NR: What advice do you have for someone who is interested in starting something similar?
CP: Be cognizant of the fact that nothing goes according to preparations. There will always be hurdles but they are meant to be overcome.
NR: What does your business offer and what are some of the processes for the various products you offer?
CP: The products manufactured include a range of value added sauces and condiments with the highest possible quality attributes. The range includes traditional products such as pepper sauces, seasonings, Chinese sauce and also the unorthodox products such as tomato ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce etc.
NR: What are your thoughts on business development in Guyana?
CP: Business is dynamic and the greatest threat to investment is uncertainty. The Guyanese consumer has moved with the times in that they are more loyal in their choices and they generally reward quality, but the regulations in Guyana sadly have been left behind. The industry is bombarded with archaic legislation which in many cases is actually barriers to trade. The political players and regulators need to recognise this shortcoming and make the requisite changes.
NR: What challenges did you encounter with your business and how did you overcome them?
CP: Access to capital remains one of the major reasons that the entrepreneurial revolution has never progressed from the blossom stage. The majority of the commercial banks in Guyana are foreign owned and coupled with the fact of loose to zero oversight; there is absolutely no competition within the banking sector. The banks in Guyana have become so lazy in their high liquidity state that there seems to be no motivation to neither innovate nor take risks. To obtain a basic credit card for $1 million requires collateral of $1.1 million. The banks are content to construct mega facilities to the tune of billions whilst the same investment could have possibly been directed towards advancements such as mobile apps etc but it seems we are in the technological age of queues and lining up.
NR: How important is customer service to you and the performance of your business?
CP: We recognize the fact that our competence is manufacturing but we consider ourselves a service provider. This culture allows us to ensure that we not only produce the highest quality products but follow through with the best possible service to ensure total satisfaction. We are cognizant of the fact that competition surrounds us but are also grateful for their presence since as a young player in the industry, it keeps us restless and provides the fuel to continuously innovate and outperform.
NR: What has been your greatest accomplishment today?
CP: To have provided a product that Guyanese people are proud to claim ownership and being able to continually overcome all the hurdles associated with being an entrepreneur.
NR: What plans do you have for your business in the future?
CP: To rapidly expand on the product range, aggressively increase export market share and to incorporate vertical integration through diversification.
NR: What would you like to share with the Guyanese public about business and the man behind it?
CP: UMAMI is 100% Guyanese owned and operated. The company will ensure it plays its part in being a good corporate citizen and strives to maintain the high standards befitting of all things “Made in Guyana”.