From the ground up

Leading South Australian based tanker repair and installation company, Liquip SA, has grown from a partnership between two mates who each put in $5,000 to kick off their business, J&J Engineering, in 1984.

Since their honest beginnings in 1984, Liquip South Australia, a proud member of Liquip’s national distribution and service network, has been servicing the local South Australian fuel industry and providing high quality bulk transfer products and a solutions driven one-stop-shop to keep fuel moving.

The Managing Director of Liquip SA, Stevo Jurkovic and his former business partner and friend, the late Ian Jack, both commenced fitter and turner apprenticeships with a well-known fuel and liquid distribution equipment company in South Australia back in the mid-1970s.

They both progressed through the ranks and by the early 1980s were running the workshop. While they enjoyed the work, the pair believed they could do a better job and provide a higher level of service on their own. They decided, in 1984, to give it a crack.

“We were young and bullet-proof and decided we would like to do this sort of work for ourselves,” says Stevo of the decision he and Ian, who sadly passed away in 2015, made. “We gave the company our notices on the Monday and left the following Friday, looking in the newspaper that afternoon to find a place to set up. “We found a factory at Wingfield for lease and signed the contract on the Saturday morning. Then on the Monday morning Ian and I were sitting there on a couple of Coke crates and we said to each other, ‘we’d better start looking for some work’.”

Being a spur of the moment decision, neither Stevo nor Ian had planned ahead, but they hit the ground running and it wasn’t long before the work started rolling in for the newly formed J&J Engineering.

They knew the first piece of equipment they needed was a gas detector and this was duly purchased, using funds from a $10,000 pool they had equally contributed to at the start-up. Within 12 months of J&J Engineering’s inception, the company had formed a strong relationship with customers and Australian petroleum handling equipment manufacturer, Liquip. At this point, a partnership was struck between J&J Engineering and Liquip. Subsequently, J&J Engineering was appointed Liquip’s South Australian distributor and became known as Liquip SA, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“So in 1985 we became the Liquip distributor for SA and we haven’t looked back since,” Stevo says, adding that a lot of the work the company took on in those early years was from fuel companies that acknowledged their dedication, workmanship and high service levels, and who later became some of their most loyal customers.

“A fleet manager from one of the State’s Major Oil Companies rang us and wanted to know if we would take on all their work – and until the day he retired he supported us,” Stevo says. “We had a lot of support from many people in the petroleum industry, who we are truly grateful to, for pushing work our way to support our constant growth.”

Liquip SA’s installation of the industry leading Swift delivery system for Perrys fuel distributors.

The original premises at Wingfield was outgrown within years, prompting a move to the current facility at Largs North, within close proximity to a number of major fuel distributors, oil companies and neighbouring terminals. Stevo proudly explains that coming from a long line of builders enabled him to construct a purpose-built facility tailoring to local customer and industry needs. From the outset the goal was to be a ‘one-stop-shop’ so Stevo and Ian progressively acquired equipment that enabled them to supply all the parts and service required to meet the high demands of the both the tanker and terminal industries.

They specialise in both minor and major repairs to tankers along with pump and metering equipment fitups and calibrations to National Measurement Institute (NMI) standards. “We do everything except build new tankers,” Stevo says. “We repair tankers by welding new skins into tanker barrels, we repair bulkheads, we do axle and suspension work; essentially the customer brings the tanker in, we do everything that’s needed, and they pick it up and put it to work.

Stevo says the company’s commitment to service excellence and the high-quality products that are still to this day locally produced and supported by Liquip International meant that success of his business was assured.

“We listen to our customers’ needs and rather than tell them how to run their businesses, we offer solutions to their problems,” he says. “We’ve always had one motto: If it’s a hard job we’ll get it done, if it’s impossible it might take a bit longer.”

After the passing of Ian, Stevo assumed full ownership of the company and he has a succession plan in place with his two sons Stevo Jnr and Dragan now fully involved in the business. Stevo Jnr now runs the workshop while Dragan is on the tools. Both sons have learnt the operation from the ground up and continue Liquip SA’s commitment to providing technical expertise and second-to-none customer service.

With a modern focus Liquip SA is positioned to provide old school service and high-quality products combined with the latest technology. This point was recently highlighted when Liquip SA delivered a new installation of Liquip’s market leading Swift delivery system to Perrys fuel distributors. This involved Liquip SA fitting out the accurate and user-friendly Swift system which allows the customers to deliver high-flow bulk, gravity and hosereel deliveries accurately and efficiently.

With new blood flowing through the business, which is part of Liquip’s national distribution and service network, Stevo continues to serve as an industry leader and mentor who is confident the future of Liquip SA is in safe hands.

Liquip SA workshop and office located in Largs North in South Australia.