Our Founders

The ICD Group became a household name in Jamaica as a result of the vision, passion and innovation of the founders, the seven sons and four daughters of Joseph & Florizel Matalon.

As young adults the Matalon children pooled their resources and energy following the counsel of their father Joseph Matalon, an immigrant from Damascus, Syria. Aaron often related a story that his Father told him one evening when he was playing cards. At the end of an unsuccessful game of solitaire he folded the cards together and asked Aaron if he could tear the pack. Aaron replied that he did not think he had the strength to do so but his Father picked up each card and tore it in half, explaining it was not difficult. He then gave Aaron a life lesson which had a profound impact on all the Matalons; advising Aaron that he and his siblings should stick together, as the strength found in that unity was like the pack of cards. They may be weak as individual cards but united, they would have the strength of the entire pack.

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At the end of the war the siblings came together to create the foundation family business. Initially it was Mayer, Isaac (Zaccie) back from the army, Moses from the navy and Eli from the air force along with Pauline the eldest daughter and her husband Jack Goodman. The group joined forces and started Commodity Service Company Limited with virtually no capital and little access to credit. Nevertheless they set up their operations at Orange Street in downtown Kingston in a rented premises where they distributed pharmaceuticals and expanded within a short time to include a wide range of products. In addition to this, Eli took over the management of a factory that specialised in manufacturing a wide range of products including cocoa powder and cocoa butter. The business was owned by an Englishman who was anxious to return to England and the family eventually bought the operations from the owner, streamlined production, and concentrated on cocoa products only. The company grew to be a dominant force in the manufacture and distribution of cocoa products in Jamaica for many years.

 

What they lacked in capital and experience at the beginning of their venture, they made up for in intelligence, passion and team work. Within a few years, Aaron brought Matalon and Company into CSCo as a subsidiary. By 1954 the company had outgrown their Orange Street premises and a building at the corner of Harbour Street and Fleet street was purchased to house the operations.

 

It was realised that the rapid expansion of CSCo through the development of new entrepreneurial opportunities would put a strain on the human and financial resources of the company.  The decision was made to cease all new activity for CSCo and instead have them done under the banner of the newly formed Industrial Commercial Development (ICD) Group of Companies, which was floated on the fledgling Jamaica Stock Exchange in 1962.

 

Within fifteen (15) years ICD had become a dominant force in the Jamaican economy and the name was well known throughout the country and beyond.

Aaron Joseph Matalon

Founder

Eli Matalon

Founder

Isaac Matalon

Founder

Mayer Matalon

Founder

Moses Matalon

Founder

Owen Matalon

Founder

Vernon Karl Matalon

Founder

Aaron Matalon

Founder

Aaron Matalon had to start working at 14 years of age. His father’s failures business ventures forced him to leave school as he was needed to help support the family financially during those hard times. While his brothers went to fight in the Second World War, Aaron supported the rest of the large family. He worked at Matalon & Company until 1949. When his father died unexpectedly in 1944 he took over the role of patriarch and cared for his mother and younger siblings until they were able to manage on their own. Later he went on to become the chairman of the siblings’ family business, Commodity Services Company (CSCo).

Aaron also played an important role in the Mona Developments as his marketing instincts helped to drive the sales of that first ever housing development, despite the negative press that discouraged persons from buying houses in a development. He handled the public relations with grace and sincerity and addressed the issues in the Gleaner. His experiences as a young man trained him to be a caring boss and he was also attributed with the management of staff training and development. His lack of formal education gave him respect for training and education and drove him to establish the Institute of Management and Production (IMP) which was the leading training institution for business for a number of years.

Eli Matalon

Founder

Eleyahu (better known as Eli) Joseph Matalon was the fifth son (and seventh child) of Joseph and Florizel Matalon. During World War II he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force where he served as bomber pilot. Upon his return to Jamaica, his knowledge of mechanical engineering made him a suitable match for production and manufacturing. He managed the cocoa and confectionery plant at Jamaica Cocoa Products which he later bought from J.C Scowan in 1949. He also ran Tropicair Jalousies and West Indies Paints until he became the coordinator for all manufacturing and the building products division of ICD. Although he enjoyed his family business, he had a passion for politics.

A supporter of the PNP, he participated as a candidate in the Parish Council Elections in 1969. He was elected Councillor of the Kingston and St. Andrews Corporation and then as the Mayor of Kingston and St. Andrews from 1971-73. He later became the Minister of Education and then the Minister of Security and Justice until his massive heart attack which caused him to retire. He was awarded the Order of Jamaica for public service in 1975.

Iassc "Zacci" Matalon

Founder

Isaac, affectionately known as Zacci, had a few twists and turns in his life before he found something that he loved: agriculture. As a young man, he joined his father in the dry goods business, but they had a series of failures and he left Jamaica to attend University in Beirut, where he hoped to become a pediatrician.

He enlisted in the British Army when the war broke out and while on a furlough, met his wife, which caused him to abandon the dream of medicine. A few years after his marriage, he moved to St. Thomas to help his wife’s family run the large coconut and banana plantation they owned. He knew nothing about agriculture, but he immersed himself and learnt all that he needed to know rapidly. He was responsible for a number of contributions to agriculture during his lifetime, including the concept of boxing bananas for shipment overseas, the establishment of Serge Island Dairies (an ICD Group company) and the introduction of long life milk. He also served as a member of the Coconut Industry Board and Banana Board, Director and Chairman of Seprod Ltd, Chairman of Jamaica Feeds Ltd, Director of Jamaica Grains and Cereal and then later Director at ICD. Zacci also had an interest in politics and unsuccessfully ran for the PNP in 1959. He served as member of the St. Thomas Parish Council 1960-64, was appointed to the Senate from 1962-1972 and served as the Custos of St. Thomas for a number of years.

Mayer Matalon

Founder

Mayer Matalon was an outstanding student and grew to be one of Jamaica’s leading financial visionaries. Despite not having the privilege of growing up in a well-off family he was focused on achieving success and when his older brothers returned from the Second World War they joined together to co-found Commodity Services Company (CSCo). Together they built a successful conglomerate with Mayer being the mastermind in financial negotiations. He was able to secure funding for the first housing project, Mona Heights, and became an important resource for successive Jamaican governments during his lifetime. Mayer conceptualised the National Housing Trust and was part of the negotiating team for the bauxite levy where international bauxite companies were made to pay taxes on the mining of the natural resource and exporting ore from Jamaica. He spent his life committed to the family business and was the first Chairman of ICD when it was formed.

Moses Matalon

Founder

Moses began his career when he opened a small foundry and machine shop on Luke Lane after the end of the Second World War. Later, with the family’s entrance into the mass housing market, he invested time in WIHCON and went about making modifications to the prefab construction system that was employed in the building of Mona Heights. He was credited with being one of the creators of a proprietary prefabricated building system that was adapted to countries with large pools of unskilled labour. He was a visionary in finding solutions to the housing and construction industry. He conceptualised the reclamation of land in the foreshore area of Kingston and the dredging of the harbour to allow for large vessels to access the deep-water port facilities for both Newport East and West. While the dredging project at Newport was underway Moses envisioned the creation of a causeway link to the Portmore area to open up the vast lands there for housing. Moses’s special talents were in planning and development. He had a clear vision of how everything should be laid out. He also headed the Urban Development Corporation which under his stewardship led the redevelopment of downtown Kingston and Ocho Rios among other national developments.

Owen Matalon

Founder

Owen Matalon not only possessed great talent and practical application, but also a great attention to detail and a sense of determination. He of all the brothers single handedly made modifications to the prefab housing system, which allowed for high rates of production using unskilled labour. He introduced the fiberglass mould, the vaccum lifter and a number of other innovations that culminated in the construction of the largest housing development in the Caribbean. Owen Matalon was known as the “housing man” due to his engineering knowledge. If you gave him a project, he knew how to construct it. Owen was the Managing Director of WIHCON, Chairman of Redimix Concrete, Director of ICD, Construction and Dredging, Portmore Land Development and CSCo.

Vernon Matalon

Founder

Vernon Matalon is renowned for his great sense of humour and his easygoing manner. He was a natural salesman and became involved in retail trading particularly at Facey Commodity and was later given the task of expanding the business in the rural areas. Vernon left Facey to join the Cold Storage Division. He ran the company for 6 years and made Jamaica Cold Storage a success. From there he joined United Motors, which was struggling at the time. The motor vehicle market was small and highly regulated, with cars only allowed entry into Jamaica though government permits. In an effort to save the company he took a giant risk and went to Japan to convince Toyota to appoint United Motors as a distributor of their products in Jamaica. The timing of this venture was a challenge as the success hinged on a change of government that promised to open up the market.

He changed the future of United Motors which became a huge success in selling Toyota vehicles in Jamaica. Vernon later became the President and CEO of ICD and was known to expand their management system for a greater utilisation of computer systems within the operations.