Shanelle Mc. Vane-Fulgence has quite the success story to tell, and it has everything to do with persistence, determination, and never giving up. Sixteen years ago she started working with Renwick & Company Limited, one of Saint Lucia’s best-known distribution companies. At the time, she held the post of receptionist, having moved on from a sales-related post at Colombian Emeralds. Fast forward five different promotions at Renwick, she’s now the company’s Sales and Marketing Manager with responsibility for six business units as well as the procurement, merchandising and promotions, and marketing departments. For the purposes of this feature, Shanelle shared with us her journey of change, opportunity and unceasing growth, under the umbrella of one of the most prolific distribution companies on island.
Can you tell us a little about Renwick’s history? What are its main products and services today?
SHANELLE: Renwick & Company Limited, a leading distributor of a wide array of products, was founded 51 years ago by the late Christopher Renwick. Renwick & Company is one of the major distribution companies serving the Saint Lucian market, representing over 100 suppliers of products all over the world. We employ roughly 110 team members, are heavily rooted in the community and endeavour to consistently provide exemplary customer service to foster long-term relationships with clients. Our offerings include consumer grocery goods, pharmaceuticals, construction and building material, office furniture, stationery, agricultural inputs, snacks and liquor, and it is still expanding.
How did your career with Renwick begin?
SHANELLE: I started at Renwick & Company as the receptionist back in 2001. Prior to becoming employed with Renwick & Company, I worked as a sales associate at a jewellery franchise in Pointe Seraphine. I made a decision to move in order to begin studying architecture. However, having set foot at Renwick I made a decision to pursue a career in marketing instead. Renwick & Company afforded me the opportunity to not only hone my own intrinsic capabilities but also to grow along with the organisation.
What’s a typical day like in the office for you?
SHANELLE: A typical day of work at a company our size is always busy. There’s never a dull moment at our office and most certainly each day affords a different experience with new opportunities to learn and grow.
As head of Sales AND Marketing, what type of teams do you manage?
Shanelle: I currently oversee a body of 60 team members, inclusive of Van Sales, Procurement, Merchandising & Promotions, Marketing & Corporate Communications and Customer Service, as well as the heads of our six brand divisions.
What is your team’s sales strategy for Saint Lucia?
SHANELLE: Our team strives to be the best in the market, offering service, delivery and overall customer satisfaction. We do have a strong social conscience and we support several activities of a non-profit nature year-round. Our focus continues to be building a culture of excellence.
Have you had any recent success?
SHANELLE: Completion of our business plan for fiscal year 2017-2018. One would ask why this may be a success. It’s a success when it’s done for the very first time; after that it becomes a walk in the park.
What are some of your challenges?
SHANELLE: Prior to this current role I managed one of the largest business units in the company. I would have to say that what I found most challenging was the transition from managing a single business unit to now assisting with management of the entire company at the executive level.
In recent years, What is the most important evolution in Saint Lucian consumer behaviour?
SHANELLE: The influx of e-commerce. Many of our customers are ordering products directly from all over the world. To adapt to this change we have included some value-added services to our offering and we continue to be extremely vigilant in our quest to shop the globe for the products that our customers want.
How is Renwick approaching these new opportunities?
SHANELLE: Renwick & Company has always prided itself on its adaptability to global technological innovations and we are particularly excited about the emergence of e-commerce on the local market. We are currently in the planning stages of acquiring this new avenue for reaching our customers.
If there were one thing you could change about doing business in Saint Lucia, what would it be?
SHANELLE: Conducting business in Saint Lucia undoubtedly has its share of challenges, as well as gainful opportunities. If there were one thing that I could change about doing business in Saint Lucia, it would be to revisit some of the bureaucratic restrictions placed on importation.
What’s on the horizon for the run up to 2018?
SHANELLE: What would any success story be without a goal? We began a transformation and restructuring exercise in 2016 with a three-year plan. Our goal is to see the completion of this plan in 2018. We continue to labour each year in the hope of achieving this major milestone.
Are you optimistic about the economic outlook for the rest of the year?
SHANELLE: The planning process of Renwick & Company’s Sales and Marketing team entails an in-depth approach to market research and economic trends as well as contingency preparedness measures. We have seen some good traction in some sectors and, as such, we remain optimistic about the economic outlook, not just for the rest of the year but well into the coming year.