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SCL heads north as construction market heats up

Published:Wednesday | March 22, 2017 | 12:00 AMNeville Graham
A segment of the Portmore toll highway.

Construction support services company SCL Jamaica Limited is on a northward push with the opening of their first outlet outside the capital on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old company, which supplies the construction and mining industries, is expanding to take advantage what Managing Director Clover Thompson noted as a construction boom on the north coast.

Along with roadworks, a number of hotel projects are either under way or are being rolled out. The new SCL Jamaica office has been positioned near the centre of the action, at Salem in Runaway Bay.

"We're now taking our presence to the north coast because there is a lot of work in that area. It takes us closer to those valuable customers who've had to journey to us in Kingston, or we to them, to get their specialist products or tools," Thompson said.

SCL trades in concrete engineering products, mechanical and chemical fastenings, industrial lubricants and greases along with Milwaukee power tools and accessories.

"The demand has grown over the last 22 years. The construction scope of businesses has expanded, so we see firms doing more roads and bridges, hotels, along with factory refurbishing. All of these areas have grown exponentially, so to speak, and we have had to respond to that," Thompson said.

She says the company has developed a track record for the right type of supplies that help to resolve construction hiccups. For example, when problems arose with the construction of the Portmore toll road, she said, SCL offered a solution.

"We sell fabric that is now extensively used in road construction and soil stabilisation. This was used by the Chinese contractors in the rehabilitation of the Palisadoes Road and by Bouyges in the construction of the Portmore toll road," Thompson reported.

The Salem investment creates a 'solutions store' which spans 3,000 square feet of floor space. Thompson did not specify the size of the investment.

The new location employs two staff, who are supported by four members of the field staff operating in the area, and overseen by a manager who normally operates from Kingston. SCL currently employs 15 persons, overall.

The company had initially considered Montego Bay or Falmouth for the expansion outside of Kingston, but after several years of mulling the move, Thompson said the decision came down to the apex of the demand for its services.

"Salem chose us. We found a location that is large enough to accommodate us, but small enough to make it worth our while. With the advent of the highway, it is now easy for us to send goods over there," said the SCL boss.

The expansion to the north coast, according to Thompson, puts SCL closer to some of its large clients, particularly the bauxite mining companies and contractors involved in hotel construction.

The base of operation remains at the Sagicor Industrial Complex at Norman Road, Kingston.

Further expansion westward, perhaps to Montego Bay, has not been ruled out.

SCL positions itself as 'a solutions company', ready to resolve construction problems as they arise.

"We have certain standards by which we have operated and they have worked very well for us. This is not to say that nothing ever goes wrong, but whenever that happens there is a path to fixing it almost immediately," Thompson said.