Sailing steadfast through uncharted waters


Corporate champion: TS Maritime Sdn Bhd founder and CEO Captain Ahmad Kamal Kamarudin holds aloft the company’s twin award wins for Exporter of the Year and the Gold Award in the SME category at the Export Excellence Awards 2019 Gala Night.

ALTHOUGH TS Maritime Sdn Bhd is facing its share of setbacks due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, founder and chief executive officer Captain Ahmad Kamal Kamarudin remains firm in steering a course towards recovery and sustainability.

The company is in survival mode owing to the pandemic. It lost a Benin order for two azimuthing stern drive tugs during the March movement control order (MCO) because local shipyards were unable to start work due to worker/contractor shortage.

However, the company has put in necessary counter-measures to tackle current challenges.

It is an approach that is starting to bear fruit, as the company is currently finalising an order for two units of utility/anchor handling tug vessels for a client in Sri Lanka.

It is also in the midst of completing its new building vessel to be exported to an overseas client.

Ahmad Kamal said that there has been a reduction in job confirmation against inquiries, but pointed out that the company has taken this into stride by analysing the reasons it had not been selected to improve its proposals.

“We are also actively doing online marketing to potential clients and entertaining all tender inquiries locally and globally, ” he added.

Because travel bans are yet to be lifted, the company is using various platforms such as WhatsApp and video conferencing to resolve supervisory issues revolving around the building of new vessels outside the country.

He explained: “It’s a new challenge for small and medium enterprises to be prepared to have a system where work from home (WFH) can be immediately carried out, as and when required.”

The company is also following up debt collection as it has noticed that debtors are using the pandemic as an excuse to avoid payment.

This is not the first time the company is facing new challenges.

The important thing, said Ahmad Kamal, is to be prepared and adaptable in all circumstances.

Previously known as Team Ship Management Sdn Bhd, TS Maritime was established in 1996 as a professional maritime services and consultancy firm which provided maritime services such as valuation, survey and inspection and ship management services.

The company diversified into other services after a decade of battling cyclical economic conditions.

It got its breakthrough in 2004 when it began exporting marine vessels to countries including Indonesia, the Maldives and east Africa.

It has, therefore, refocused its efforts by channeling resources to core activities through key business units.

The company’s performance will be affected with the lack of clarity when vaccines can be safely available. But Ahmad Kamal is certain that the marine and oil and gas market will gain traction once the situation has stabilised, which hopefully, will lead to better oil prices.

He believes that there are pockets of opportunities, most notably in the new orders for TS Maritime’s new ship design. Once the course for recovery is set, with active markets, client requirements for consultancy work will increase, he said.

With less than two months into 2021, TS Maritime is planning ahead. Internally, within the company, Ahmad Kamal is looking to put in place processes to ensure that the company can instantly activate WFH systems when required, as well as improve its IT system so as to be on par with Industrial Revolution Technology 4.

On the external front, the company is seeking to raise client engagement and seeking new cliens. It is also pushing to get new orders to build vessels. The company, which won a Gold Award in the Oil and Gas category under the SME tier, also clinched one of three exclusive Exporter of the Year awards.

When asked how the Export Excellence Awards (EEA), had helped TS Maritime, he said: “The win moved us steps ahead from our previous decades of operations, which then inspired us to become more innovative. It enabled us to create more business opportunities and expand our services, helped sustain our quality and excellence and eased our access in financial applications.”

Winning the award also boosted the profile of the company through establishing credible recognition for reliability and commitment that its overseas clients place importance on.

As for advice to companies looking to participate in EEA 2021, Ahmad Kamal said,

“Keep on improving and presenting the uniqueness (of your company) by highlighting your unique selling point.”

That said, he also stressed that it was important to work on the company internally as well, by being passionate in any endeavour, giving full commitment to clients, as well as treasuring and appreciating staff members.

EEA 2021 is organised by Star Media Group in partnership with Standard Chartered, with Matrade as patron. It is audited by BDO.

Those keen to apply can visit exportawards.com.my, contact Pei Wen at peiwen@thestar.com.my or call 03 7967 1388 ext 1857 (Events Dept).

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