Once upon a time, Joseph Matalon who was born in the Damascus, Syria, visited Jamaica as a young single man, on the way to a new life in Mexico. While visiting Jamaica he met and married Florizel Henriques with whom he had a happy and fruitful partnership. They had eleven children who grew up to become a very successful entrepreneurial family and the founders of West Indies Home Contractors some sixty years ago.
They were a close knit family but Mr. Matalon had mixed fortunes in business with periods of success and some unfortunate failures. One of these failures occurred when Aaron, his second son was thirteen and he had to leave Jamaica College to go to work to help support the family because his Father was unable to pay the school fees.
Despite the setbacks, or perhaps because of them, the young Matalons were determined to succeed in business. Their Father, Joseph impressed on them the value of working together as a family. Aaron recounted that his father asked him to tear a playing card in two, which he did rather easily. He then instructed him to take the whole pack and try to tear all the cards together, which of course he could not. Joseph then advised his son that if he and his brothers and sisters stuck together their strength as a unit would assure them success.
The young Matalons pooled their meager financial resources when they started their venture at the end of World War 2 after three of the brothers returned. One in the British army, one in the British navy and the third in the Canadian air force They combined their individual areas of expertise and went into a number of business ventures, including housing in 1959 when they joined with a Puerto Rican Company to use an in-situ building system to develop the first major housing development in Jamaica. Mona Heights was the first community built by West Indies Home Contractors and was the catalyst for a number of expansions in business to satisfy the inputs to construct the homes. The Matalons set up factories to manufacture windows, pour concrete, provide hardware supplies needed to build the homes and paint for the buildings. The companies became household names as they grew to cater to the wider public as well as satisfy WIHCON’s needs and together with their first family venture, Commodity Service eventually evolved into The ICD Group of companies, which became a household name.
Each member of the family proved to have a particular skill and they naturally led the transformation in their areas of expertise, which created a powerhouse of innovation and excellence.
Owen Matalon was the conceptualizer and innovator of the WIHCON System.
Aaron was an intuitive marketer who was the mastermind behind the sales campaigns for each of the early housing development, where an entire development would be sold off within a day or at most a few weeks.
Mayer was the financier, who was a master negotiator with a tremendous understanding of numbers and a steely resolve to negotiate funding. He was the conceptualizer behind the establishment of the National Housing Trust that has provided many thousands of Jamaicans with the opportunity for home ownership.
The entire team had passion for the companies they built and the Matalons soon became known for quality, and a reputation for integrity and dedication to Jamaica and its development.