Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Todd Liberty - The man with the plan

Todd Liberty, the man with the plan

Todd Liberty is an American native, but in the fall of 2013, he was given an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“Mr. Gomes Bonda is a business man in Luanda, Angola, and always wanted to start a business near his home town of Negage,” Liberty said. “In 2011, he purchased some land near Negage that included a fresh water spring and founded the Cesse Spring Water Company. After a few years of planning, construction, licensing and hiring, the plant was ready for full installation in 2013 and I was hired as plant manager in 2013.”

From the start, Liberty said Cesse Spring Water has used equipment purchased from Norland International for several reasons.

“Norland has one of the best reputations in the bottled-water industry,” Liberty said. “The company wanted equipment that was user friendly, could withstand the Angolan heat and would be reliable for many years to come. After researching several companies, Mr. Bonda decided to purchase from Norland.”

Reputation is one thing, but seeing is believing and a trip by Bonda to Norland’s Lincoln, Nebraska, facility in 2012 sealed the deal.

“He saw firsthand the professionalism of the entire staff and the ownership,” Liberty said. “He was able to see equipment operate and sit down face to face with personnel who explained to him in detail about the bottling process. Another key factor for Mr. Bonda, was every piece of equipment for the bottled-water line was made by Norland International.”

Cesse Spring Water currently offers three sizes of bottles, 330ml, 500ml and 1.5L, but plans to expand in the near future.

“We have recently purchased two additional bottling lines, blow molders and 5-gallon equipment from Norland International that we expect to receive in January 2015,” Liberty said. “With the new equipment, we will be adding 5-gallon bottles, 3L bottles and 330ml vitamin water to our product line.”

A great business requires a smart leader like Mr. Bonda, and an efficient plant manager like Liberty, but it also takes reliable, dependable equipment that can handle a heavy workload with minimum down time. Liberty said his company is putting Norland’s equipment to the test.

“Cesse Spring Water just started selling water in February 2014, and as of October 10, 2014, we have produced 2.5 million bottles,” Liberty said. “Norland’s equipment is very durable and reliable. Our downtime and loss of production are very small margins, even when you factor in the heat of Northern Angola. We have only had to contact Norland two or three times since we started producing, which speaks volumes about the reliability of the equipment.”

Since Liberty is an American, one would expect some difficulties in acclimating to a different culture in a different country, but he said language has been the only issue.

“I am always trying to pick up and learn Portuguese and the workers try to teach me,” Liberty said. “I am lucky to have two employees at the plant who know English, which has been a huge asset for me. The Angolan people are great people who take pride in the work they do, the cultures may be different, but our common goals in life are the same.”

Cesse Spring Water has 25 employees and operates from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. six days a week. They currently sell water up to six hours away from the factory, with the goal of servicing all of Angola in the near future.