Business Profiles

Surdeen Equipment & Trucking Company Limited: “S.E.T. To Keep You Going”

A critical part of any infrastructure development, reliable logistics and machinery support, is fast becoming a growth industry and Surdeen Equipment & Trucking is ready and able to shoulder the load in Jamaica.

The cornerstone of any regional development is a thriving construction industry that seeks to improve infrastructure and offer new and exciting commercial opportunities. In turn, such developments can lead to financial security, better job prospects and a healthier local economy. However, it’s vital that the construction industry is underpinned by reliable support operations – that’s where Surdeen Equipment & Trucking Co. Ltd. (S.E.T.) comes in.
Founded in 2004, S.E.T. was the brainchild of John Surdeen and his wife, both of whom had significant experience, as well as useful contacts, within the heavy equipment rental arena. They saw a niche for a more intuitive logistics and support operation and made it happen.

“Since February 2004, we have been making an impact on the marketplace with new ideas that were lacking across Jamaica. These new concepts brought us to thinking more inclusively, attending seminars and equipment construction shows across the world, in order to divert into a wider supply of equipment on our island. None of our ideas were being introduced into the marketplace, such as different tools and how to make them more effective for better usage.”

Every great company starts with a moment of inspiration, and having enjoyed the ‘eureka moment’, John set about creating a company that would become a linchpin contact for all construction enterprises in Jamaica.

Think about it at the most basic level and it makes perfect sense that the success of any development project hinges on a reliable supply chain of both material and equipment. A delay in the delivery of either of these facets could impact severely on any ongoing or newly planned enterprise and that’s exactly why S.E.T. was designed to focus on very specific day-to-day responsibilities.

“The company’s major operations are based in civil engineering construction, the hiring of heavy duty equipment and the sale of equipment and equipment parts.
We have now also entered into the small tools rental and contractor’s plant and equipment arenas.”

John went onto divulge: “We import and sell a wide range of heavy-duty equipment, backhoes, excavators, rollers and forklifts etc. We also carry our own brand of hydraulic hammers, housed under the S.E.T. product line. This has directly lead to the company’s tag line, ‘S.E.T. To Keep You Going’.”

Supplying a large number of construction companies, as well as rental supply operations, S.E.T. has always recognised the importance of maintaining a local focus, so as to always follow through on professional promises. With this in mind, two operational bases have been built on the island; HQ in St. Catherine and the equipment parts sales office in St. James. Given the current buoyancy of the sector, it was visionary to have more than one base:

“It is a growing industry which is, competitive and always throwing up a new challenge in terms of competing with other suppliers, both in the form of quality and after sales service. One has to learn to face new challenges by visiting other countries and adapting to or incorporating global changes in technology, to be one step ahead of competitors.”

S.E.T. might be a Jamaican company, with a firm directive to serve the local industry, but by taking a global approach, there is a comforting assurance that an island need not be behind the times. This really is what sets John and his team apart from the wider competition.

“Constant drive into new products and services, globally, sets us ahead of our competitors, but so too does our after-sales services. Our products and engineers are readily available to provide after sales support, island-wide.”

Speaking of staff, John recognises that even the best company in the world is reliant on expert staff that are as passionate as they are talented and nurtured, which is why a ‘promote from within’ culture has been instigated at S.E.T.:

“Presently, we employ over 300 persons from both within and outside of Jamaica. We sponsor onsite job training and cater to the welfare of our staff, while always seeking to promote from within the company, when individuals have proven their skill and capabilities.”

Alongside a contingent of fantastic staff and savant-like industry understanding, S.E.T. enjoys the benefits of strong relationships and professional partnerships, both of which have helped to gain better insights, core strength and a great basis for future developments and growth:

“Since 2016, we have managed to change many suppliers and gone directly to manufacturers. We’ve also built a new location in Montego Bay and are presently building a new office warehouse. In 2017, we ventured into a subcontract with an international company, TSK, from Spain and we are developing the largest project on the island, which will see a major improvement in the power supply for Jamaica.”

With plans in place to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with existing partners, the future is definitely going to be interesting and perpetually dynamic, but world domination isn’t at the top of the wish list. Instead, there is a refreshingly grass roots approach being taken, in the sense that future projects all seek to improve the infrastructure of Jamaica, for the population, alongside a number of charitable enterprises:

“More recently, we have helped to rebuild the Old Harbour Bay Community Centre, where people are trained and certified in a number of professions, including construction, electrical, plumbing and masonry, to name a few. We also support the Sunbeam Children’s Home for Boys and the Bling Bling Football team.

Whilst so many companies seek to be a big fish in a small pond, S.E.T. is far more focused on being an integral cog in a wider machine that chugs and churns for the good of the local community. It’s proof indeed that commercial success and a philanthropic outlook really can coexist and result in terrific improvements for an entire region. Perhaps it’s this unique combination of priorities that keeps John so optimistic about the future.

“I’m looking forward to the future generations carrying on our business and becoming even more innovative in the marketplace.”