Ruth McFarlane’s ideas appear to have always been bigger than her – sort of. She strikes me as one of those kids who would open a lemonade stand and three days later, announce an IPO on the stock exchange. Ruth is physically slight with an easy smile, but she is a business powerhouse with 25 years’ experience notched in her ambitious belt. Admac Limited, her family-run gourmet and health food enterprise, is the culmination of that quarter century of entrepreneurial spirit – a particular mind-set that actively takes risks, embraces change, pursues continuous improvement, and provides excellent customer service.
“If you cannot find it elsewhere, we have it. If we don’t, we will source it,”
After living on Bequia, in the Grenadines for some time, Ruth felt it was time to return home to start her own business. Her research pointed to opportunities in the hotel and tourism sector and she began importing dairy products into Saint Lucia, starting with a variety of unavailable cheeses and yogurts. The business was all Ruth and one delivery man. Over the years, she has not only maintained that niche, but the original idea has expanded into a veritable ‘United Nations’ retail outlet with competitively priced cold cuts, smoked fish, Asian foods, Dutch cheeses, French juices, Indian foods, Italian coffee, Jamaican teas, seasonings, condiments, gluten-free and low-fat products. In addition to gourmet international ingredients, Admac stocks a growing range of local top-quality food products from virgin coconut oil to dried and fresh oyster mushrooms and fruit chutneys.
Admac provides the kind of shopping experience where you end up buying things you didn’t realise you needed; there is always something on the shelf or in the fridge that catches your attention. “If you cannot find it elsewhere, we have it. If we don’t, we will source it,” Ruth says with all the confidence of a seasoned, well-connected executive.
Admac’s complex is clean. Squeaky clean. The predominantly forest hardwood structure is a deliberate direction, following years of rented existence in a previous concrete warehouse. “I wanted to build something that complements our business ethos and adds value to the environment in which we operate,” insists Ruth. The two-storey eco-friendly building along Beausejour Road in Gros Islet, not only lifts the lustre of the neighbourhood, it also houses Admac’s wholesale/retail, warehouse, and distribution departments. The combination results in a convenient one-stop for her clients, many of whom are in the north of the island.
Admac also services those customers who are short on time or transportation and opt for doorstep delivery. As we walk through the surprisingly spacious building, she says quite matter-of-factly, “I’m going to add solar panels to the roof to power our operations. We may be able to get off the grid and possibly sell power back to LUCELEC.” Yes, that’s that enterprising spirit engaging in “continuous improvement” coming to the fore.
As we speak an employee in bright white shirt with the Admac logo emblazoned on the pocket, happily assists a customer with her purchases to a waiting car. In keeping with their environmentally friendly culture, customers’ items are neatly packed in carton boxes recycled from wholesale packaging, rather than the customary plastic bag. That decision was taken years ago, well before St. Lucia’s largest supermarket chain withdrew issuing single-use plastic for groceries. According to McFarlane, “We have a responsibility to take care of our surroundings and we at Admac take that very seriously. There are generations to come after us, and we want to know that we have done our best to preserve the environment for them.”
More than just a fabulous shopping experience!
Preservation of the body’s health and its youthful appearance form an integral part of her business objectives. A quick visit to Admac’s Facebook page will reveal helpful tips on safe weight loss methods, healthy eating and exercising. Small wonder Ruth McFarlane looks almost exactly the same now, as she did when she first started out in business. “I live what I preach. I stay healthy by eating healthy and exercising. Discipline and moderation are key to maintaining good health. Admac can provide all the healthy alternatives such as semi-skimmed goat’s milk, products for the lactose intolerant, pure, no preservative juices etc., but the rest is really up to you. That is where discipline plays a major role.”
Perseverance has kept Ruth McFarlane and Admac Limited ahead of the local business game. True to her character, she already knows what happens “after Ruth”. She has one of her sons understudying operations. She gives a knowing smile when I ask about succession planning. “There is always a silver lining out there. It’s not always easy to find, but you must dream.”
Ruth’s ideas always appear much bigger than her – sort of.
Opening hours Monday – Friday 8:30am – 6pm
Saturday 9am – 1pm
Wholesale & Retail of gourmet and health foods from around the world
Credit cards accepted
Eco-friendly – bring your own bag or use one of the provided boxes
Managing Director, Ruth McFarlane
Director, Erik Simmons
Customer Service Supervisor, Khisma Monrose
Beausejour rd. Gros Islet
(758) 451-6890 / (758) 721-9965 / (758) 453-6575
How to get there
Click on this What3Words address to be taken straight to the exact spot on the map:
Driving from Rodney Bay, head north towards Gros Islet, go past the Fire Station and turn to the right into the road to Beausejour, towards the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium. You pass the Gros Islet Secondary School on your left and keep going a little further and on your right, you’ll soon see a lovely row of prickly pear cacti lining the front of a spacious parking lot with the big Admac Warehouse and Retail shop inside.