MAIN board-listed Coastal Contracts Bhd, which owns a fleet of 40-plus barges and tugboats, has been in the ship chartering business since 1982, when its executive chairman Ng Chin Heng acquired the Sandakan-based company.
He started with four tankers for hire, but demand for transporting fuel in a small backwater town at the time was not high.
However, the timber industry boom provided new opportunities.
The enterprising Ng acquired several second-hand barges to transport cut timber from inland camps to downstream factories and also for exports.
The business thrived and he later brought in other siblings into the company as Coastal Contracts expanded its operations into ship repair and refurbishment.
By 1993, the company had started building its own vessels, and immediately established itself as a reputable tugboat and barge builder.
“Sandakan provided an ideal location for our operations to service clients in Sabah, Sarawak, Kalimantan and the Philippines. A majority of our clients are from Indonesia, where coastal and inland river transportation is crucial,’’ senior general manager Kelvin Ng said.
Ng was previously an executive director of Coastal Contracts.
He resigned as a board member as his commitment in the Klang Valley had kept him from attending board meetings in Sandakan.
Ng believed that although Coastal Contracts' business was built up like any family-run business, the company had been professionally managed over the past few years.
“We have built up the company over the past decade and are proud of its achievement. We want to grow further and believe there are tremendous growth opportunities in the oil and gas marine support business,’’ he said.
According to Ng, the company has been involved in oil and gas transportation for a number of years with Indonesia’s national oil company PT Pertamina as among its main clients.
“About 60% of our vessels are on time charter contract, so we are not effected by the hike in fuel cost,’’ Ng said.
“Our fleet size will fluctuate a bit during the year as new vessels enter service while existing ones may be sold off,’’ he said, adding that the company usually would start on a vessel project even before firm orders were placed.