With the success of sugar production, the company decided to venture into other areas of agricultural production and labor, with the support of the Dominican government. The main objective of these initiatives is to boost domestic agriculture and help the economy. Over the past few years, Central Romana has diversified its operations, investing in a broad spectrum of industries.
Furfural is an organic compound derived from sugarcane bagasse and other agricultural waste such as corn cob and peanut shell. Central Romana built the Furfural plant under the social program named La Romana By- Products in 1955. In 1973, the company expanded the plant facilities that resulted in the production of 90 million pounds per year, becoming the world’s largest producer thanks to the company’s determination and the support provided by the Dominican Government.
In order to ensure international marketing of the product, in 1995 Central Romana acquired a processing facility in Belgium to reduce furfural into furfuryl alcohol (FA). The company in Belgium that produces Furfuryl alcohol is TransFurans Chemicals (TFC) and the company responsible for product sales is called International Furan Chemicals (IFC) based in the Netherlands.
These operations employ over 200 people and are a good example of how a company should evolve over time, and diversify when new opportunities present themselves.
In order to diversify its investments and give support to industrial operations, Central Romana created Hierro Dominicano, a company dedicated to the manufacture of iron equipment and parts. Hierro Dominicana melts iron to manufacture heavy pieces; they also have welding workshops for any iron parts that are used in the sugar mills.
They produce iron mills and other parts for all other local sugar industries. It also makes iron parts that are exported to the United States to supply the sugar industry in that country.
One of the most successful investments of the company has been their Division of Building Materials Production (PROMACO, their acronym in spanish), which offers a wide range of products for construction, such as ready-mix concrete, precast, large multipurpose reinforcements, industrial units, bridges, culverts, and other commercial buildings.
This activity arises to when the company had to provide maintenance to the more than 350 kilometers of railway used to transport sugarcane and the need to repair the sleepers. To achieve this, the company developed a special division, which processes their limestone deposits using large shredders. The resulting material is used for the railways ballast. During the process, their technicians noticed that the dust derived from the limestone grinding, could be processed with other aggregates to produce a mixture which is used in the manufacture of steel reinforced concrete ties.
Based on Belgian technology that they had access to, the company developed the aforementioned process. Sleepers used by Central Romana are no longer imported thus representing significant foreign exchange savings to the nation. Due to this the pre-cast concrete business emerged, which has been widely used by Central Romana, especially in the construction of houses for their employees, using German technology. The company has so far built more than 4,500 homes in the past 25 years.
This pre-cast concrete factory has also been used in the construction of industrial units operating in both free zones in La Romana, achieving the necessary vertical integration characterized in developed economies. Currently, PROMACO is capable of meeting the demands for blocks, tiles, floors, prefabricated building materials and other materials needed for the construction development of the region.
La Romana Duty Free Zone, the country’s first free zone, opened in 1969 is one of the most positive contributions of the company to the country’s economy with the support of the Dominican Government; it has served as a solution to the scarcity of job opportunities in this region, which once caused great labor pressure in the sugar sector, the main employer in the region.
Due to this, company executives suggested the creation of manufacturing industries requiring skilled manual labor in order to export products to the US market. The creation of the first duty free zone of the country was a result of the joint efforts and willingness of the public and private sector. The company provided the idea and capital, and the Dominican government contributed by granting incentives and all necessary facilities.
La Romana Duty Free Zone has served as benchmark for the creation and development of other industrial parks in the country, 51 to the day, scattered throughout the country. La Romana Duty Free Zone currently employs more than 8,000 people.
Agrocarne, modern meat aging plant, opened in 1966 and since then it has played an important role in the meat market. The company Agrocarne exports high quality meat products to Mexico, United States, Puerto Rico, Russia and other worldwide destinations. Currently it supplies the local market with meat products including pork sausages under the brand Higueral.
Their products include salami sausage, hot dog sausages, hams, etc. With the production of dairy buffaloes emerged Agrolácteos, a company dedicated to the production of dairy products. Agrolácteos mainly produces buffalo and cow milk mozzarella under the brand Higueral. In the future, Agrolácteos plans to diversify into a wider range of dairy products.