Sat | Feb 27, 2021

Tools Hardware doubling truck servicing capacity

Published:Wednesday | January 27, 2021 | 4:18 AMNeville Graham/Business Reporter
Jalil Dabdoub, head of Tools Hardware & Equipment Limited, stands next to a Sinotruck unit.
Jalil Dabdoub, head of Tools Hardware & Equipment Limited, stands next to a Sinotruck unit.

Having exceeded sales expectations in the first half-year, Tools Hardware & Equipment Limited is building out additional service space for its eight-month old-Sinotruck dealership.

The company has already expanded operations for the truck division to incorporate two other locations – the old Tanners complex at 259 Spanish Town Road, Kingston, and a bonded warehouse at the top of Waterloo Road, in the vicinity of Grants Pen, said Managing Director Jalil Dabdoub. The dealership also operates out of Tools’ headquarters at 138 Spanish Town Road.

Tools Hardware began selling Sinotruck units last May. By year end, the service department, which is up and running with three bays and lifts, will be expanded to six, he said.

“We’ve sold nearly 150 trucks so far, which is better than expected because that is not what we had on the cards,” Dabdoub told the Financial Gleaner, adding that interest from the market has come mainly through word of mouth.

“The most popular one is a 10-tonne, 14-cubic-yard, six-wheeler dump truck sold for under $5.3 million,” he said.

Sinotruck is one of the Chinese brands that have entered the Jamaican market in recent times, the others being Shacman, distributed by Tank-Weld Group, and to a lesser extent Foton, distributed by Key Motors.

Maintenance problems

Jamaica’s trucking sector has mostly relied on used trucks sourced out of the United Kingdom and United States markets, but the pre-owned units have been plagued by maintenance problems due to their increasing sophistication and Jamaica’s lack of technical competence and equipment to properly service them, and lack of spare parts.

The Chinese trucks have been displacing the ageing fleets of American and UK trucks. Tools Hardware was among those that swapped out their company fleets, and said it did so with an eye on possibly entering the market as a truck dealer if the experiment worked.

Dabdoub declined to say how much his company ended up investing in setting up the new dealership, and how much more he plans to spend to double the servicing bays this year.

The Chinese trucks distributed in Jamaica sell within a price range of about $4.4 million to $32 million, with the Shacman units being the most expensive.

They are cheaper than the pre-owned UK and American trucks and cheaper to maintain, and have a longer useful life, depending on maintenance, according to multiple industry sources.

Sinotruck deals in the 10-tonne truck as well as a 12-wheeler and 16-wheeler super-duty trucks, which carry 50 per cent more load and are used mostly in Jamaica’s mining sector.

Innovative Trucking, which transports bauxite ore from the Schwallenberg mines at the St Ann-St Catherine border and from the Water Valley deep mines in St Ann that are characterised by mining pits with steep inclines, far below road level, was among those making the switch to the Chinese units.

“The results have not only been good, but they’ve been excellent,” McMorris declared with a laughed. “We dispensed with the 20 American trucks in our fleet, put in the same number of Sinotrucks and immediately had a 100 per cent increase in tonnage hauled,” McMorris said.

With the old fleet, orders sometimes went unfilled because of the downtime for the trucks, robbing the company of earnings, but with the switch, McMorris said his business is now no longer hampered by downtime and constant repair bills.