Chao Group strategy lies in disciplined investment, sustained growth

  • Business
  • Saturday, 04 Jan 2003

THROUGHOUT its history, the Chao International Group, led by founder Datuk T.T. Chao has aimed for disciplined and sustained growth, coupled with strong customer focus and long-term profitability. 

The group’s growth strategy depends on a disciplined investment programme of building or acquiring worldscale, well-sited production facilities with modern, efficient technologies.  

Its global reach, with concentration in the US, Canada, Malaysia, China and Taiwan, has fuelled the group’s growth while helping to keep costs low through shared experience and resources. 

Globalisation had enabled the petrochemical group to provide superior products and services to its customers while consistently achieving ambitious financial objectives, the company said in a profile published in conjunction with its 40th year celebrations. 

In the past four decades, T.T. Chao founded numerous plastics and fabrication companies in various Asian countries, including Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and China. 

T.T. Chao was born in Suzhou, near Shanghai in China. In the late 1940s, Chao moved to Taiwan where he built the country’s first polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant less than a decade later. 

In the 1960s, T.T. Chao established the China General Plastics group of companies, which included Chine General Plastics Corp, Taita Chemical Co and Asia Polymers Corp. These companies are among the premier public-held petrochemical and plastics manufacturers in Asia. 

After three decades of experience in Asia, the Chao Group entered the US market in 1986 with the acquisition of a polyethylene plant in Sulphur, Louisiana, near Lake Charles. 

This acquisition established Westlake Polymer Corp. In 1993, following numerous other acquisitions and greenfield developments, including the completion of Westlake’s first ethylene plant, Westlake Chemical Corp became a holding company for the purpose of consolidating the North American operations of the Chao Group. 

That was the genesis of Westlake group, a principal operating interest of Chao Group, that is engaged primarily in the olefin and vinyl business in North America. 

Since the beginning, Westlake has continued to develop its North American business through a combined strategy of building new plants, expanding existing plants and acquiring manufacturing facilities. Today, the Westlake group has a total of 20 operating sites in North America. 

To position the Chao Group towards the development of the petrochemical industry in the Southeast Asia and China regions, T.T. Chao founded the Titan group, which pioneered the petrochemical industry in Malaysia by building the country’s first integrated polyolefin complex at Pasir Gudang in Johor. 

Apart from Titan and Westlake, the Chao Group in 1992, also initiated investments in China through joint ventures which included a PVC plant and downstream calendaring plant near Shanghai. Its principal partners in these joint ventures are Norsk Hydro of Norway, International Finance Corp, an affiliate of the World Bank, and China Jiangsu Chemical Pesticide Group Co. 

Today, T.T.Chao, in his 80s, is assisted by his two sons, James and Albert. James is the managing director of Titan group, while Albert is the president for Westlake group. 

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