Distinguished Track Record
Pioneers of innovative solutions across multiple industries through establishing and expanding over 100 businesses.
Years Leading Change, Making a Difference
Focus shifts with the new generation
From 2000–2005, with Mayer’s son Joe M. Matalon, now the majority shareholder, chairman and CEO of ICD, all of the manufacturing, trading and distribution subsidiaries were either liquidated or divested. ICD’s main interests shifted to financial services and WIHCON had moved from large-scale, low-income housing scheme projects to smaller scale, upper-income developments.
WIHCON sets new record
WIHCON created a plan to build over ten thousand houses in Greater Portmore in the early 1990s. It was one of the largest development projects ever undertaken in Jamaica or the English-speaking Caribbean.
Matalon empire reigns supreme
Up to the mid-1990s, between WIHCON and ICD and its subsidiaries, the Matalons were still the largest housing developer in Jamaica; the second largest distributor of food and a main distributor of hardware, pharmaceuticals and other consumer products; and a major provider of insurance, investment management and financial products and services.
In 1995 Mechala Investments became the umbrella for all the former ICD subsidiaries and WIHCON plus Prime Life Assurance (later became Victoria Mutual Pensions Management Limited). ICD was reorganized into a Development and Construction Division, a Manufacturing and Trading Division, and a Financial Services Division. The restructuring was initially conceptualized by Mayer and his son, Joseph M., with Mayer as chairman and Joseph M. as Chief Operating Officer.
Setting Sites on other Caribbean islands
In the 1980s, as WIHCON had fewer large scale housing projects in Jamaica, Moses and Owen embarked on mass housing projects in Trinidad, where they built eighteen thousand homes, and in St. Lucia, where they dredged swamps and reclaimed dozens of acres of land that were later essential to the growing tourism sector. St. Lucia’s main seaports, its marina, and a causeway linking the mainland to an old colonial fort were envisioned and created largely by Moses Matalon.
Similar projects followed in St. Kitts, after which Moses and Owen went to the Cayman Islands and embarked on the Safe Haven project, a massive golf course development.
Branching out into the Investments and Finance Sector
The Matalons founded the Industrial Finance Corporation in 1986 in a joint venture with the Bank of Nova Scotia.
ICD purchased Eagle Star’s British Caribbean Insurance Company (BCIC) in 1986
The Matalons founded Sigma Investment Management, a security dealership in 1989
ICD continues to innovate and dominate
By the late 1980’s major brands such as Facey Commodity, Butterkist Biscuits, Serge Island Dairies, Redimix Concrete, Shoppers Fair Supermarkets, Caribbean Brush Company, United Motors, HoFab Stocking Manufacturing & P.A. Benjamin were all part of the ICD Group of Companies. Ever innovative, Serge Island Dairies was the first company to process UHT milk that could be stored without refrigeration. Shopper’s Fair Supermarkets introduced the Jamaican consumer to scanners at the checkout counter. United Motors introduced the Toyota brand to Jamaica. West Indies Home Contractors developed a proprietary building system unique to the tropics and geared at employing large pools of unskilled labour. At its zenith WIHCON erected approximately 70 houses per week.
Mayer Matalon suggested the idea of the National Housing Trust to Michael Manley in 1974.
It was a hallmark initiative to assist more Jamaicans to own homes through low-cost mortgages.
Matalons Launch The First Management School On The Island
The Institute of Management and Production (IMP) was launched in 1976 by ICD, offering management training to people beyond ICD’s own employees. This was the first educational institution of its kind in Jamaica, and predated the University of the West Indies’ own Department of Management Studies.
Widening horizons at home and abroad
The Matalons acquired Bryden and Evelyn, one of Jamaica’s most prominent food and hardware distributors. They also acquired interests in garment manufacturing, Redimix Concrete, International Insurance Brokers, and galvanized sheeting manufacturing, and attempted to diversify into exports with their line of perfume and toilet water manufactured by Benjamin’s.
By 1977, the ICD Group of Companies had twenty-eight subsidiaries. Foreign investors in ICD included the Commonwealth Development Corporation and Japan’s Mitsubishi.
The Birth of ICD
In 1962, Industrial Commercial Developments (ICD) was formed to house what was becoming a conglomerate.
ICD cements status as the trailblazer of construction
Construction & Dredging (C&D) was added to ICD in 1962, through joint ownership with Construction Aggregates of Chicago who provided expertise and other technical assistance. C&D initiated dredging projects to meet the local needs for channel dredging, land reclamation, beach development, port construction and infrastructure.
In 1966 the Matalons, led by Moses, approached the government with a plan to build a causeway (a road connecting two points across a broad expanse of water or wetland) across the Kingston Harbor, so as to develop two thousand acres of swamp as a new residential area near Port Henderson, in Kingston’s neighboring parish of St. Catherine. The proposal to build a causeway and drain the swamps was groundbreaking. Through two new companies, Construction and Dredging, and Foreshore Development Company, the Matalons went on to create a deep-water port in the Kingston Harbor, reclaiming a part of the Kingston shoreline to create Newport East and West, which became modern port facilities that accommodated large ships. These innovations were key to Jamaica’s positioning as a major trans-shipment port.
In 1969, WIHCON built Independence City, the first large housing scheme in Portmore, comprising over a thousand two- and three-bedroom houses. The building of this scheme marked the beginning of Kingston’s expansion into Portmore, arguably one of the most important urban developments in Jamaica since independence.
ICD becomes the one stop shop for everything home related
The Matalons started home appliance retail with Homelectrix and the accompanying Home Appliances Finance Corporation, one of the early purveyors of hire purchase in Jamaica. They also ventured outside of Jamaica, purchasing 47.5 percent ownership of ANSA Industries, a refrigerator and cooker manufacturing plant in Trinidad.
In 1967 ICD acquired Conditionedair and Associated Contractors (CAC), a commercial air conditioning business. By the end of 1969, ICD had acquired interest in or started ten more new businesses in Jamaica. On acquiring Cecil B. Facey, the family merged it with their own agency and distribution businesses in food and hardware, creating Facey Commodity. The Group acquired Brooks’ Shoppers Fair and Town & Country Stores, which ultimately became Universal Stores Limited, operators of the Shoppers Fair supermarket chain.
Family Business takes on public interest with company listings
ICD listed five subsidiaries in its share offering on the Jamaica Stock Exchange: PA Benjamin Manufacturing Company Limited (perfumes, food flavors and coloring, and other household oils and liquids); Tropicair Jalousies (aluminium and PVC windows, doors and roofing material); West Indies Paints; Cecil B. Facey (then the largest food, pharmaceutical and hardware distributor in the island); and Jamaica Cocoa Products.
Business expansion continues with the purchase of 7-9 Harbour Street headquarters
By 1954 the company had outgrown their 88 Orange Street premises and a building at the corner of Harbour Street and Fleet street was purchased to house the operations.
The Matalons groundbreaking mass housing project.
A critical juncture came with the family’s venture into mass housing in 1956 and the creation of West Indies Home Contractors (WIHCON). WIHCON was the first to construct a housing development on the island. The result was Mona Heights: 716 three-bedroom, two-bathroom houses, targeted at civil servants, teachers and professionals who otherwise would have had little if any opportunity to own a new house.
A New Era sees the sibling starting business together
Aaron takes over Matalon and Company after his father dies unexpectedly in 1944.
Mayer returns to Jamaica in 1945 after working in Panama and established a tire retreading business in Penso’s Garage on Orange Street; motor vehicles and supplies were rationed and retreaded tires were in high demand.
One year later, in 1946, the siblings established their first family business, Commodity Service Company Limited at 88 Orange Street in Kingston. It was formed by Mayer, Pauline and her husband Jack Goodman. Commodity Service Company’s first commercial activity was wholesale distribution. Within a few years Aaron brought Matalon and Company into Commodity Service Company as a subsidiary.
Matalons introduce the modern pharmacy concept to Jamaica
They also established Pharmaceutical Services on Laws Street, creating the first modern drug distributorship and later the first modern pharmacy in Jamaica. As the pharmaceutical business grew and deepened, they started a new company, Comserv Pharmacies Ltd., and opened the trailblazing Oxford and York pharmacies, that sold not only drugs, but had a US-style soda fountain where people could sit at a counter and order hamburgers and milkshakes; this was a completely foreign concept in Jamaica, and one which was a hit with the middle and upper classes.
Revolutionizing consumer goods
Commodity Services Company became the first distributors of packaged rice in Jamaica, packaging and distribution of rice from Guyana. With rice and cocoa the Matalons introduced prepackaged food items to the market.
The Foundation for family business is laid by the Matalon’s patriarch.
After years of working with and for other businesses, Joseph makes the decision to expand his business and names it Matalon and Company. He hires his son Aaron to work at his Orange Street shop.
The Genesis: Matalon patriarch lands in Jamaica
Joseph Matalon arrives in Jamaica in 1910 after leaving his home in Damascus (Syria). He starts working with his brother Moses in dry goods trade.
Four years later, Joseph Matalon meets and marry Florizel Henriques in 1914. Their union went on to produce eleven children: Pauline, Isaac, Leah, Aaron, Moses, Mayer, Eleyahu (Eli), Gloria, Owen, Adele and Vernon.
ICD Head Office, 7-9 Harbour Street,