Torginol: The brand that stands the test of time

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The ‘Torginol Paint’ brand is one of the many household names in Guyana. It is regarded as a product that Guyanese have come to call their own. The history of the company is quite a rich and enterprising one too.

It all started when an entrepreneur from Delhi, India decided to venture out of his homeland to establish a successful business. That man was the late Swarn Kumar Puri, the founder of Torginol.

He left India during the 1950s and landed in England where he soon got the exclusive rights to a number of product lines for sale in the Caribbean region. With this success, he traveled to Trinidad and Tobago. However, not long after, he came to Guyana and quickly fell in love with the country. He decided to call the land of many waters his new home.

In 1956, the businessman began working as a Commission Agent and occupied an office atop Rayman’s Drug Store that was located on the corner of Regent Street and the Avenue of the Republic.

Soon, S.K. Puri began trading under the name ‘Continental Agencies’. This was in addition to being a Commission Agent. Continental Agencies began importing and distributing sweets, biscuits, chocolates and the very popular caramel wafer.

However, the business expanded in the 1960s when the government of the day decided to establish the Ruimveldt Industrial Estate. Continental Agencies set up its factory at Lot 10 Industrial Site. Initially, products such as hard-boiled sugar confectionaries were made.

The Torginol line of paint was being produced in a separate section of the factory and it was at this juncture that the Torginol brand began penetrating the local market.

Despite aggressive competition from imported brands, Torginol remained relevant and became a top contender as the product was being developed over the years to best suit the local climatic conditions.

From this point on, Continental Agencies began to spread its tentacles across Guyana by opening a number of branch offices.

A third building was constructed at Lot 12 Industrial Site to produce paper, plastic bags, plastic films, spices such as the Continental and Sujata Curry Powder, baking powder and custard powder.

Growth continued, which caused the company to acquire a building at 216 South Road, Georgetown. This served as a warehouse, retail and wholesale outlet and distribution centre.

During the mid-1960s, another distribution outlet was opened at 28 Strand, New Amsterdam which served the East Berbice Corentyne and West Berbice area.

As the years went by, the company acquired more properties in Georgetown and across Guyana. The Torginol Paints has become the flagship product of what is now called Continental Group of Companies.

Torginol Paints is one of the six Continental companies. The rights to manufacture the product were acquired from its German parent company. In the early days, the subsidiary took on contracts to supply paints to be used on the M.V. Makouria, M.V. Malali, M.V. Torani, the Bank of Guyana, The National Library, St. George’s Cathedral and Public Buildings.

The fast growth of the company caused it to acquire a larger building at 9 Industrial Site, Ruimveldt. Having fully occupied the building in 1994 allowed the company to increase its production so as to meet market demands.

The management system was also improved with technological advancement. The laboratory facilities were separated from the Quality Control Department and Research and Development Department. Further, there was controlled storage of the raw materials and the end products which were recorded using a computerised inventory, billing and re-ordering system.

Torginol continued to grow and has become the preferred choice of paint for many Guyanese and local contractors. Last August marked 57 years of serving the people of Guyana with quality paint in a variety of colours.

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