BUSINESS at truck body and trailer-building company Serco has improved this year compared with 2020 but is still below that achieved in 2019.
This is according to CEO Clinton Holcroft who said it had been a tremendously challenging time with the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to impact a variety of industries and the South African economy.
“The company used the crisis to focus on driving cost reductions and streamlining processes to improve service levels while broadening the product range to create growth,” said Holcroft.
Serco is one of South Africa’s leading insulated and dry freight truck body and trailer manufacturing companies with branches in Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Gqeberha.
Holcroft, who estimates that the company had built more than 20,000 vehicles in its 40-year history, said although the improvement in revenue this year had been encouraging, sales were down 30% on 2019.
“To counter the reduction in sales, we broadened our product range to include more dry freight vehicle bodies and have seen good growth in this sector. We have also increased our fleet of rental refrigerated semi-trailers by 10 vehicles.”
He said a lot of potential customers had delayed orders due to lack of availability of truck chassis caused by global supply chain shortages.
“A highlight of this year has been the development of a new design refrigerated interlink trailer offering improved volume and ease of use as well as design changes to our flagship ’Frostliner’ refrigerated bodies to increase payload and enhance the finish of the panels while raising sustainability standards further.
“The new innovations will offer tangible features which I believe, will encourage customers to upgrade to the new technology.”
There had been a significant reduction, he said, in trailer replacements but hopefully as Covid levels continuing to drop and the economy starts to open again, that we will see an upswing, similar to trends overseas.
With sustainability and cutting carbon emissions being a global priority, Serco would continue its drive to responsible manufacturing practices and minimise our impact on the environment.
In 2019 the company installed 1029 solar panels on the roof of its Durban factory which allows the premises to go off the grid during the day. The solar power 400kw peak system has the potential to save the company 75% of its electricity costs, equating to a saving of about 900 tons of CO2 a year.
Other greening initiatives include the recycling of paper and plastic it uses as well as a rainwater harvesting system for washing vehicles.
Turning to the South African economy Holcroft said he hoped there would be further structural reforms to encourage growth and employment. Considering the dire need to reduce unemployment, possibly a Ministerial Advisory Committee similar to that used so effectively during Covid, could be set up to focus on economic growth for South Africa.
“Serco’s aim for next year is to see a return to our pre Covid performance and to build on the positive initiatives we have put in place to generate growth and further value for our customers in the transport and logistics sectors”.