Mon | Mar 19, 2018

Engineering an empire - Businessman tells how he moved from fixing fridges to highly successful operation

Published:Tuesday | April 4, 2017 | 12:00 AMSashakay Fairclough
In this 2010 photo gasolene dealer, Roan Patterson (second right), shakes hand with Trevor Barnes, president of the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers' Association (JGRA), as dealers Clint Wilson (left), Samuel Dixon (centre), and Hugh Coore look on.
Samuel Dixon's autoparts business.

Samuel Dixon always knew he would be successful and began working as a refrigeration engineer immediately upon leaving high school.

Commitment and self-reliance are words he uses to define himself. His advice to young entrepreneurs is to use their own creativity instead of constantly depending on the Government.

"You have to come up with your own ideas. The Government is just the facilitator, so we have to carry our own burden. See what is lacking in the area where you live and create businesses, no matter how small, from that."

Born and raised in Port Antonio, Portland, he acquired a few taxis as soon as he made enough money from his engineering job. After some time, he received the opportunity to operate a gas station franchise in the area. While successfully overseeing it, he opened a large supermarket in Buff Bay called Shopper's Pride Food Store. As his love for entrepreneurship grew, he purchased another gas station franchise in Ocho Rios, St Ann, in January 2007. Unsurprisingly, he didn't stop there.

"There is a small auto shop on the gas station, mostly for the servicing of vehicles; but to better serve the locals, I started an auto parts shop called Ocho Rios Parts Centre in July 2015, but we didn't officially open until October 2015."

The largest auto parts store in Ocho Rios stocks parts for Mazda, Hiace buses, coaster buses, Honda, Toyota, and many others.

With all his businesses combined, he employs more than 100 people. However, this has proven to be a challenge.

"I love to provide jobs for people, but it is difficult to find committed staff, especially on the Ocho Rios end. In Portland, I have only changed maybe four staff members in 11 years, while in Ocho Rios there seems to be weekly changes. I think it is because too much partying happens here. There is a shift system, so sometimes the evening staff will leave the morning staff at a party. Therefore, I often get calls requesting sick days because many don't arrive home until the morning, when they should be going to work. In Portland, the culture is very different."




In order to keep his prices low and competitive, he has chosen to import his goods from overseas, "I import about 85 per cent of my stock and get the rest locally. I also sell wholesale to some of the smaller stores in the area and assist those other owners as best as I can."

Although it is cheaper for Jamaicans to purchase these imported items, Dixon admits that even doing this has its own issues.

"I encounter many issues, but I always try to find solutions and see positivity in everything. Also, I try to see things from different points of view. When you import parts, you have to pay a lot at the wharf. It would be easier for people to acquire the goods and then pay at a later date, especially after selling them. However, I do understand that there may be issues with receiving payments from some persons if this route is taken."

As a businessman who has worked extremely hard to accomplish all that he has, Dixon is well aware of how crucial it is to give back.

"I make donations to the less fortunate and contribute to sport league games for primary and high schools. I am also a member of the St Ann Chamber of Commerce and do charity work with them."


... Take a look at success


- He started as a refrigeration engineer;

- Became the owner of taxis

- And of gas stations;

- He's the owner of an auto parts shop;

- He's the owner of a supermarket;

- He employs more than 100 people;

- Has only changed four staff members in 11 years in Portland;

- Always tries to find solutions to problems and sees positivity in everything;

- A member of the St Ann Chamber of Commerce.