Hon Audley Shaw (centre), Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries; Curtis Martin (second left), Acting Managing Director, JN Bank; Chris Bicknell (second right), Chief Executive Officer of the Tank-Weld Group; John Ralston (right), managing director at Tank-Weld Equipment; and Yan Xie, regional general manager, SHACMAN, give a unanimous thumbs up to the partnership, which will see increased availability of high end trucks in Jamaica. The occasion was the official launch of Shacman Jamaica’s local dealership, held at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on June 25.
More than 200 new trucks have been ordered by Shacman Jamaica since the start of the year; and 127 sales have been booked by local operators, at this time, says John Ralston, managing director of the Tank-Weld Group.
The Shacman truck dealership, which was developed by Tank-Weld, aims to modernise the overage trucking fleet in Jamaica, Mr Ralston said. He explained that the decision to become Shacman dealers emerged from Tank-Weld’s own experience of operating an ageing truck fleet.
“Over the years, maintaining our fleet of more than 120 trucks became extremely difficult,” he stated. “With the expense of buying new parts to put on very old trucks, we had no choice but to ‘think outside the box’.”
Speaking at the launch of the dealership, at the Spanish Court Hotel in St. Andrew, on June 25, he pointed out that Tank-Weld’s truck fleet was similar to that of much of the rest of the trucking industry in the country.
“Our fleet had an average age of over 18 years. Before September of 2017, Tank-Weld last purchased a new heavy duty truck in 1973,” he pointed out. “Buying used trucks with an excess of 500,000 miles was no longer an option for us.”
The problem with older trucks is that they become less reliable over time, and increasingly difficult and costly to maintain.
“Until now, we were not able to justify the capital cost to purchasing new trucks,” he said.
That changed when they became familiar with the Shacman trucks being used in Jamaica by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), their neighbor at Six Miles in St Catherine.
Research into the trucks led to a decision to purchase four in September last year, which escalated into discussions about establishing a dealership and a visit to the Shacman plant in China.
“This is a company with a long history of producing special vehicles for the Chinese military and when turning to producing commercial heavy duty trucks, instead of starting with a blank sketch book, chose to partner with the German truck and bus company, MAN, to eliminate the learning curve,” Mr Ralston said.
The trucks are thus based on established German technology, coupled with Chinese manufacturing efficiency, which results in attractive prices.
“We aim to truly revolutionise the trucking industry,” Mr Ralston stated. Their strategic advantage comes from a decision to import a limited range of trucks suited to the Jamaican environment, and thus ensuring the capacity to stock an adequate supply of spare parts.
The Hon. Audley Shaw, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, in his address, urged business operators to consider the new range of trucks. He pointed out that, “business people can look to purchase, not a 15 or 20 year-old truck, but a brand new truck. They are reliable trucks and your servicing requirements will fall.”
Curtis Martin, acting managing director, JN Bank, told the audience that the financial institution had partnered with Tank-Weld as it saw an opportunity to reach out to the trucking industry. He said, “The financing offer, which we have made to truckers, will facilitate increased purchases of brand new heavy-duty trucks, suited to our environment.”
“We have an attractive financing package for up to seven years at a fixed interest rate,’’ Mr Martin stated. He pointed out that the relationship had already yielded sales and, “We look forward to our continued partnership with Tank Weld and Shacman in this venture.”
Yan Xie, Shacman’s regional general manager, told the large audience of trucking industry operators that, “We have the confidence to tell our clients that you will not regret buying a Shacman truck. The Shacman trucks have a 50 year history and we have lot of experience in the market.”
Jianghong Fan, Counsellor, Economic and Commercial Counsellor’s Office, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, congratulated Shacman and Tank-Weld for their partnership. He said the Chinese Government will work with Jamaica to promote the growth of partnerships for common development.
Mr Ralston explained that the dealership had been integrated into Tank-Weld’s purpose built maintenance facility at Ferry in St. Catherine, with the addition of a 3,200 square foot showroom; a 12 bay workshop and a fully stocked parts department; as well as an in-bond facility to hold up to 50 trucks.
“Five Shacman staff members have been repositioned in Jamaica to make this their regional headquarters,” Mr Ralston said. “These five men are here to support Shacman Jamaica in our effort to demonstrate Shacman’s commitment to the Jamaican and Caribbean markets.”
He added that as a result of these developments, “six months into the year, we are four times ahead of our annual dealer target, and, the customer feedback has been very encouraging.”