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From its earliest beginnings to the present time to the future to come, Solo has been always and will always be a trademark of quality and fine craftsmanship beyond compare.

The beginnings... with bread
Joseph Charles, the eventual founder of Joseph Charles Bottling Works and Investments Limited, first entered the business world as an employee in 1922. In that year, Joseph's parents moved from Icacos to Belle Vue (near Dibe in the hills behind St. James) with their six children. It was here that the young Joseph began working in a bakery on Queen Street in Port of Spain. He quickly moved up from baking bread to becoming a salesman, serving his customers by bike. It was at this point that Joseph's unusual entrepreneurial instincts began to take shape. He knew how to please his customers. He started keeping a policy of giving every customer who bought more than twelve loaves of bread one extra loaf free, from his own commission.

From bread to beverages
The move towards the soft drink industry began when Joseph discovered that there was a small, hand-operated soft drink factory for sale on Patna Street in St. James. He borrowed $100, combined it with his savings, and bought the factory. The brand name of the soft drink that was produced by the factory was 'Delaware Punch' and Joseph continued producing soft drinks under that brand name after the factory aquisition. The entire production system at that time was manually operated. This was what the process was like. Used and returned bottles would be hand-washed using a bottle brush. The imported syrup would be mixed by hand and measured out into bottles to be carbonated by manually inserting and removing a carbonator, after which
the crown cork would be pulled down onto the bottle top. The rate and speed of soft drink production has always been and continues to be a crucial concern for Joseph Charles Bottling Works and Investments Limited. This concern began with Joseph. At Patna Street, the factory was producing one bottle of soft drink every two minutes.

World War II
With the advent of World War II, there was a shortage of bottles, since the bottles were imported instead of being manufactured in Trinidad. Joseph became aware of a soft drink factory in Canada that was closing down. He bought the bottles from the Canadian factory and shipped them back to Trinidad. The brand name printed on these bottles was 'Solo' and the logo included a picture of a pilot drinking a soft drink after a solo flight. Joseph kept the brand name and design for the manufacture of his soft drinks with the traditional heavy Solo glass bottles.

The birth of Solo
So for Trinidad and Tobago, St. James was the birthplace of Solo. Identical 12-ounce glass bottles, each bearing a modernised version of the original design were eventually being produced locally, instead of being imported from abroad.

Developments begin
In 1949, Joseph Charles Bottling Works was moved from Panka Lane to the corner of White Street and Tragarete Road, where further factory developments began to get underway. Joseph bought some second-hand bottling machines designed to run at a speed of 72 bottles per minute. Within four years, through his ingenuity, he had the machines running at at an increased capacity of 144 bottles per minute. The company began to be run on a two-shift system, when an additional shift was incorporated. The number of employees amounted to roughly 110 people, with 54 being employed within the factory department itself and the rest being devoted to sales. Joseph Charles got where he did not just by ingenuity, but by hard work. He worked long hours, often commencing work at 4:00 am, with plant processes underway by 5:00 am so that by 5:30 am, trucks loaded with Solo beverages would be deployed to travel the rough, narrow roads of those days to deliver the soft drinks to groceries and shops even on the farthest parts of the island.

The succession of Joseph Charles
In 1965, Joseph Charles passed away, and was succeeded as head of Joseph Charles Bottling Works by his eldest son, Vernon. However in 1969, Ken Charles, Joseph Charles' youngest son bought out Vernon and became the new owner of what is today known as Joseph Charles Bottling Works and Investments Limited.

Moving into the present
Developments continued under the hand of Ken, who was responsible for implementing custom-designed machinery in the factory, which is now fully computerised and is always making new records in speed and efficiency. Today, the factory is among the most modern in the Caribbean. It is equipped with leading edge facilities, including a pasteurization unit and multi-million-dollar computerized blow-moulding equipment for the manufacture of PET bottles from preforms at a rate of twenty eight thousand (28,000) bottles per hour. The factory also has two other lines for packaging its products in cans and in glass bottles. Solo soft drinks are marketed both locally and internationally, with the soft drinks being exported to select markets in America, Europe, and other Caribbean islands.

Solo: Diversifications unite
While soft drink manufacture is the main area of Solo's expertise, it is by no means the only one. Every year, Solo enters the Great Race competition, which is a popular annual power-boat racing competition that showcases the beauty of the boats and the skill of the pilots. The red and yellow 'Mr. Solo', piloted by Ken Charles has shot to victory many times. Solo has also been an avid sponser of many other events, ranging all the way from the Wallerfield race car championships to steel-pan (with The Solo Pan Knights), including the annual Regatta (a yachting race), table tennis, lawn tennis and badminton and local cultural competitions (Mastana Bahar, Scouting for Talent). All these differing activities come together with one thing that they all have in common: Solo.

Defining the future
Ken Charles and his son, Hayden Charles, continue to strive to keep the tradition of a business that's all in the family. They are always seeking out ways to continuously increase levels of factory capacity and efficiency and will do so by continuing to integrate the latest technological advances into their production processes. Their plans for the future of Solo are to introduce the soft drinks to even more foreign diversified markets, and at present, there is an ongoing drive to achieve this market penetration.