Sat | Aug 19, 2017

From a trade to a legacy

Published:Sunday | April 9, 2017 | 4:00 AMLatara Boodie
Superior Auto Parts
Superior Auto Parts
Superior Auto Parts
Superior Auto Parts
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Dereck Johnson turned a trick into a trade which became a worthwhile multimillion-dollar investment. The founder of Superior Parts did not always plan to enter the business world. In fact, he had been leaning towards carpentry as his career choice. "My father looked at me and said, 'you don't want your shoes heel to be lean'," said Johnson when asked why he did not pursue carpentry. Following his father's advice, he went into automotive technology and laid the foundation for his dream at Kingston Technical High School and Jamaica German Automotive School Academy.

It was not until after his first job as a mechanic at Air Jamaica that he discovered his calling. He realised that he was very good at sourcing auto parts, which were hard to get at the time. "I did this during my spare time. These parts were very scarce, so I would do my research and go abroad to find them," said Johnson. This hobby became a small business which started in the back of a pickup truck. It was only after spending 10 years at Air Jamaica and following the redundancy exercise in 1994, that he really began to invest in this hobby. "That job was a stepping stone for me to move on to higher heights," said Johnson as he reflected on his time at Air Jamaica. Though he had the opportunity to go abroad to further his education, he saw a need in Jamaica which he could fill.

Starting his business was not easy. "Everything seemed expensive," said Johnson. His business started at 6 Hagley Park Road, in a basement. "The basement was the cheapest rent." Luckily, he picked the perfect location in which he could maximise his customer base because he was located next to a Japanese parts junk yard. "I came with something different which was very price-conscious with a customer-oriented type of approach," said Johnson.

With the fast growth in the number of cars entering Jamaica and the need for affordable parts, Superior Parts became a success. The business moved further down Hagley Park Road to its current location at 88 Hagley Park Road. It now has several different sections: new parts, used parts, a service centre, body work section, a motorcycle section, and a warehouse. "It [the headquarters] has become a one-stop shop now," said Johnson. Superior Parts has been franchised and has offices in Ocho Rios, May Pen, Mandeville, and Montego Bay.

A company which started in the back of a pickup truck grew into a legacy because Dereck Johnson had a vision which he made a reality.