Story | 02/21/2024 08:23:12 | 3 min Read time

Serco and UPM Plywood: Innovating with sustainable quality

Vesa Brandt

Editor, Tulus

With shared values around quality, sustainability and innovation, Serco and UPM Plywood’s alliance is poised for success in providing durable and progressive transport solutions.

Serco, a leading manufacturer of truck bodies and trailers in South Africa, has cultivated an over-decade-long partnership with UPM Plywood. This collaboration enables Serco to deliver differentiated and durable transport solutions built on principles of quality, sustainability and innovation. 

Founded over 40 years ago, Serco serves customers ranging from small delivery vehicles to large semi-trailers used for shipping refrigerated and dry goods. With manufacturing facilities located in Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, Serco places great importance on quality, sustainability and staying at the cutting edge. 

"Our core purpose is giving transporters the edge in their fields,” says Clinton Holcroft, CEO of Serco. "We do that through innovation, leading in quality and service – and we rely on partners like UPM to make that happen."


Quality materials for durability

The partnership commenced in 2012, following a period of thorough product testing and collaborative design consultations between UPM and Serco's technical teams. This led to Serco's selection of UPM’s WISA birch plywood. 

According to Holcroft, using reliable and durable materials is key to providing the lowest life cycle cost over the vehicle's lifetime, even if that means a higher upfront investment. By partnering with UPM Plywood for over a decade, Serco has access to structural plywood solutions that enable them to design vehicles to hold for the needed number of years. 

"We use the UPM standard – we won't compromise by getting an inferior product, as our vehicles are designed based on strength requirements," Holcroft stresses, underscoring Serco´s commitment to quality first. 

Sustainability to reduce environmental impact

In addition to quality, Serco prioritises environmental sustainability across its operations – from harvesting rainwater to wash vehicles to targeting 85% renewable energy use within three years. By choosing a supplier that is focused on responsible sourcing, Serco aims to reduce its environmental impact at every step. 

"We know UPM Plywood is committed to sustainable forestry and that's very important for us."


Innovating for customer needs

The third pillar for Serco is constant innovation to stay competitive.  

"Innovation helps us differentiate, grow and address pain points for customers – whether that's improving payload or reducing running costs," Holcroft explains. 

From featuring novel flooring solutions in new electric delivery trucks to taking inspiration from trade shows abroad, Serco looks to UPM for ideas and insights on global trends. 

"We give our customers the edge through innovation. UPM Plywood helps make that possible." 

Reliable deliveries through local supplier

A crucial collaborator in the partnership between Serco and UPM Plywood is Universal Plywoods, the appointed local distributor for UPM Plywood in South Africa. Universal Plywoods plays a pivotal role in guaranteeing prompt and dependable deliveries of UPM’s WISA plywood.  

“The large stock holding we carry nationally has proven to be critical in a cyclical, often unpredictable market,” says Universal Plywoods Transport Specialist Patrick Hansen. “What´s more, throughout the years we have supplied Serco, we have developed our supply partnership into a mutually beneficial relationship where trust and communication play an important part. We are very proud to be involved with the Serco Group.”  

Clinton Holcroft confirms the rapport between Serco and Universal Plywoods to be mutually beneficial and forthright.  

“We have a good relationship with Universal Plywoods, and we keep communication open. The distributor we work with also plays a valuable role in supporting our relationship between UPM Plywood and Serco,” Holcroft concludes. 

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