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Growth & Jobs | Training for Truckers: Tank Weld wants to create minimum standards for local and export market

Published:Monday | December 3, 2018 | 12:00 AM
SHACMAN trucks on display at Six Miles in St Andrew.
John Ralston (right), managing director, Tank-Weld Equipment Limited, explains the intricacies of the China-made SHACMAN truck to Naomi Dawkins (centre), managing director, Conveyance Partners JA Limited, and Managing Director of JN Bank Curtis Martin. Conveyance Partners JA Limited, which mines for Jamalco and JISCO Alpart, purchased 14 of the trucks earlier this year.

Tank-Weld Equipment Limited is seeking to improve the minimum standards in the trucking industry with the development of a training programme for truckers.

Managing Director John Ralston said local training and certification will strengthen drivers' skill and knowledge, and also prepare drivers for the overseas market.

"Our hope is to create a minimum standard and to certify drivers, as there is no formal training available to them locally, especially those who operate as independent contractors," Ralston informed.

The announcement has come in the wake of recent incidents involving trucks on the Spur Tree Hill main road in Manchester, and the Bog Walk gorge in St Catherine.

Tank-Weld's announcement to expand into driver training is commensurate with its expansion into motor vehicle sales. Tank-Weld Equipment Limited, a member of the Tank-Weld group of companies, launched into motor vehicle distribution in January, becoming the exclusive distributor of SHACMAN trucks in Jamaica and the Caribbean in January.

Tank-Weld repurposed its maintenance facility at Cumberland Pen, Six Miles, in St Andrew. The 16,800-square-foot facility, located on five acres of land, boasts, among other attributes: a 3,200-square-foot showroom; a 9,600-square-foot maintenance and parts storage building; a 1,600-square-foot body repair shop and 2,400 square feet of office space, including adequate service and parts counters.

The company says it has exceeded sales targets of the Chinese truck brand by over 300 per cent, with in excess of 200 new trucks sold in the first three quarters of 2018.


Trucks filled a gap


Ralston described the acceptance of the trucks by the Jamaican market as "phenomenal".

"The availability of the SHACMAN trucks have filled a gap in the local market for affordable new trucks backed by after-sales service and parts, the level of which has never been seen here before," he said.

He pointed out that these factors have been critical selling points for the business, as it offers an alternative to what he says were unaffordable new trucks produced in the United States of America, and old trucks with mileages in excess of 500,000 miles old, prior to arriving in the Caribbean.

Ralston also revealed that the majority of sales, to date, have gone to contractors in the mining and construction sectors, with some 72 dump trucks sold to those sectors. Container haulage, the food and beverage industry, and hardware stores and block makers, have also benefited from the affordability and reliability of the trucks.

"We have sold to individuals, building contractors, manufacturers, distributors, as well as to hotel and restaurants. The kinds of trucks rang from specialty trucks, such as a refrigerated trucks, box trucks, water tankers, sewage suction trucks, crane trucks, tractor heads as well as flatbeds," he said.




Ralston said sales are expected to continue to grow in 2019 as awareness of the SHACMAN brand increases. Currently, there are approximately 100 additional trucks in production and en route to Jamaica.

The sales of the trucks are being financed by JN Bank. Keith Senior, consultant, JN Bank, said that the level of sales is an indication of the need for new trucks and parts in Jamaica.

"We are pleased with the performance to date," Senior informed, "given the benefit to the haulage subsector and other industries, which depend on a reliable fleet of trucks for which parts are accessible. Therefore, we remain upbeat about the growth projections for the short to medium term."