If you are driving on main roads anywhere in South Africa, it won’t be long before you see a Made by Serco sign on a vehicle.

Serco, one of the country’s leading insulated and dry freight truck body and trailer building companies, is celebrating its 40th anniversary determined to stay a front runner in the industry while giving its customers the edge!

CEO Clinton Holcroft estimates the company has built more than 20 000 vehicles since its humble beginnings in June 1981 as a family business which currently employs about 400 people at branches in Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth). “Considering that each employee supports around five dependents, you realise the huge importance of local manufacturers to our local economy, especially with the high unemployment rate in South Africa at the moment.”

Serco – founded in Durban by Trevor Holcroft who is now the non-executive Chairman of the company – has adapted its operations to the new-norm caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and has been resilient during these tough conditions.  “What sets Serco apart is that it manufactures its vehicles using the latest panel injection technology and design which offer improved durability and thermal performance. We also have our own in-house repair divisions located in the main centres nationally to enable us to offer unrivalled backup to our customers,” said Holcroft.

As part of our ongoing efforts to continuously improve, we have recently invested in new steel processing equipment for joining the coated steel facings and have commissioned a state-of-the-art polyurethane injection head. These new upgrades will further raise the standard of the panel durability and finish.”

Serco have also broadened the product range over the last year to include cargo van bodies, curtain-siders and drop-side bodies.

“Our versatile in-house engineering team recently designed and built a refrigerated interlink trailer for Imperial Logistics Refrigerated Services, which incorporates a hydraulic system to allow through loading, rear docking and high-volume loading of perishable goods.”

Very aware of climate change and global warming the company has put emphasis on greening its operations. In 2019 it installed a total of 1029 solar-powered panels on the roof of its Durban offices and 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. This equates to a saving of approximately 900 tons of CO2 a year.

The R5m installation was part of Serco’s drive to reduce its impact on the environment, adding to other greening initiatives, including the recycling of paper and plastic it uses as well as a rainwater harvesting system for washing trailers.

Among the many highlights over the past 40 years, was the Gold Medal the company received at the Automechanika trade fair in Johannesburg in 2019 for the thermal performance of its Frostliner insulated vehicle.

“Over the next decade I believe we will see a lot more use of telematics to improve logistics efficiencies and for maintaining trailers.  In the past it was quite costly but what we are seeing now is technology becoming more affordable.  Serco are running initial trials for a smart trailer concept to enable customers to interface with the trailer for maintenance data.

Holcroft says looking back over the 40 years he is proud of how far Serco has come. “The only thing we can say about the future with certainty is that there will be more crises – how we get through them and come out stronger on the other side depends on how we adapt and respond.

“We are immensely grateful to our customers and the Serco team as without their support we would not be in the position we are today.”

40-Year Timeline of Serco Milestones

1981: Founded in Durban by Trevor Holcroft.  The company built small insulated trucks, vending carts and also did vehicle body repairs

1984: Serco moves to larger premises and starts building trailers

1996: Clinton Holcroft joins the company

1999: Serco acquires Newline products in Cape Town

2002: Durban branch opened

2005: Clinton Holcroft appointed Managing Director

2014: Appointed distributer for Whiting door products in Southern Africa

2016: New panel press manufacturing technology introduced featuring injected PU insulating foam and coated steel facings

2017: Appointed distributer in southern Africa for Loadlok

2017: Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) branch opened

2019: Clinton Holcroft appointed CEO; Charl Coetzee becomes Managing Director, and Trevor Holcroft appointed non-executive Chairman

2019: Serco wins KZN Productivity SA award

2019: Company wins Gold Award at Automechanika Johannesburg Trade Fair for trailer thermal performance

2020: Product range broadened to include more dry freight pantechnicon bodies