Auto Profile: Derrick Johnson
Derrick Johnson, owner of Superior Parts Ltd, professes to have had a love for vehicles since he was about 11 years old. "I used to tell my father that I loved carpentry, but he kept encouraging me to do something in the auto industry. He was a shoemaker but was quick to point out that the auto industry was the future," revealed Johnson. This pep talk was the spark that started a fire in Johnson, who applied this dedication to his academics at JAGAS, where he was far ahead of his peers. "I was always studying in my spare time, so if the exam was next month, I started going over past papers from January."
Even though his company has been around for 23 years, Johnson is still focused on ways that he can improve his business. "We want to make vehicle parts more affordable and accessible, and ultimately, make our services available through the Internet like a mini-Amazon, where we can distribute parts throughout the Caribbean."
What is your favourite destination to drive to in Jamaica and why?
May Pen. I like the structure of the highway. It's a straight road where you can drive and cruise, plus I have the tag pass, so if the regular line is too long, I just go to the express lane. Sometimes I drive a little farther to Murray's to have some jerk chicken.
What was the first vehicle you owned?
A 1972 Fiat 127. At the time I felt so proud to know that I owned something noteworthy. It was an old car with many problems, especially in the front-end, so I always had to walk with a little tool kit. You never knew when there was going to be a problem with the distributor, or the gas filter might get blocked up.
What is your dream vehicle?
A. I feel like the Benz Gl450 copied the BMW X6, but I would still want to try it. The Germans have a way of building nice luxury vehicles.
Which two of your friends would you choose to race on a track, and what would be the outcome?
Andre Dale he has been my 'bredren' for years, and, usually, when we are 'parring', he is the one driving. The other person would be my son, Derrick Jr. He drives with a lot of speed. As for the outcome, I have to put my confidence in me because I would be more strategic and composed than the two of them.
What is one auto activity you would love to do with your son as he gets older?
I want me and him to do some mechanical work together like change disc pads. It's going to provide a great opportunity for us to bond as well as me teaching him the correct safety procedures when working on a vehicle.
Q. What is your favourite classic Jamaican sedan?
The Toyota Cressida was the car back then. It had luxury and technology, and it was coming from the manual stage that the Morris Oxford represented. It had a status to it, even the name 'Criss', like brand new.
Q. In the next 10 years, which one of these activities has the highest possibility of you doing it and why: skydiving, downhill skiing, 100-foot roller coaster?
Downhill skiing looks very graceful, plus it's outside of my comfort zone as well as culture, so I would like to give it a try one day.
Q. What are two songs on your current playlist when you're in your car, and why do you play these songs?
Otis Redding's Sitting on the Dock of the Bay and Lionel Richie's Easy like Sunday Morning. They give me a relaxed feeling and keep me in a mellow mood.
Q. What car is Jamaica's best taxi?
The 'King Fish' Corolla has a history that is indisputable. When you are looking for durability and availability of parts, nothing can compete.
Q. Could Jamaica benefit from a train system, and if you could implement one, what would be your first transit route and why?
We definitely need one. I can remember a case in Thailand where they had some mobility problems and they used a sky train to solve it. Look at the large population in Portmore and New Harbour. The traffic is horrible from that direction in the mornings. I believe this would be of great advantage to the people there, especially as it pertains to productivity, plus it cuts down on pollution.
Q. What is the best stretch of road you have ever driven on in Jamaica?
I love the road on the west coast from Green Island to Negril. There are very few potholes and the road is spacious, with lots of greenery.