Poh Tiong Choon Logistics Limited (“PTC Logistics”) was founded in 1950 as an owner/operator transport company. Over the years, the company grew together with Singapore and its clients to become one of Singapore’s and Asia Pacific’s largest logistics companies.
PTC Logistics has been an ISO9000 certified logistics service provider since 1996 and is listed on the Mainboard of the Stock Exchange of Singapore since April 1999.
The main business activities of PTC Logistics are: Bulk cargo handling and stevedoring, Transportation, 3rd Party Logistics Provider, Supply Chain Management, Warehousing and related services, Chemical drumming and Terminal Management.
Mr Poh Choon Ann (Group Chairman and CEO) joined PTC Logistics in 1964 when he was 28 years old, one year before Singapore gained her independence. Mr Poh joined the then- fledgling family business founded by his two elder brothers Mr Poh Sin Choon and Mr Poh Choon Her, after receiving higher education with the financial help from his brothers.
At that time, Singapore was on the cusp of nation-building. The group was able to ride on the wave and seized the opportunity when the Singapore government was building up its infrastructure and sought to plug the gap in the handling of bulk cargoes.
With only a few industry players back then, PTC Logistics was able to capitalize on the rapid growth of the industry by focusing on transportation, warehousing, bulk cargo handling and stevedoring services. PTC Logistics soon entered into the containerization business with a strategic relocation of its premises from Jurong Port Road to Pandan Road amid Singapore’s drive to become an international transshipment port that it is now.
The nature of the Group’s business changes with the transformation in the economic focus of the country. PTC Logistics will continue to look for synergistic opportunities to increase its competitiveness as it seeks out new strategic alliances both onshore and abroad. “Having ridden the industrialization wave of early Singapore and the rapid growth of its logistics sector, the company now expects to achieve steady growth amid the now mature sector,” says Mr. Poh.
It is exploring ways to grow its core businesses, “We were very lucky that we could ride the country’s developmental phase,” Mr Poh says. “While PTC Logistics can be said to have contributed to Singapore’s growth, the other side of the coin is true – we have had the good fortune of growing in tandem with Singapore.”
Arguably, PTC Logistics arrived at where it is through a series of tough decisions. Mr Poh recalled how PTC Logistics was determined not to retrench any staff during the 1997 financial crisis. With fewer orders at hand, the company’s drivers were grouped into rotating shifts – those drivers who were not working during the shift attended training courses. The group also set minimum wages to drivers to help them through the difficult period.
“We refused to retrench our staff or get rid of our vehicle fleet because our industry is labor- intensive; if we were to let go of our staff, we will not have enough manpower when the economy bounces back again. Hence, we have to bite the bullet,” Mr Poh says. “In our line of business, service is very important, so we need to take good care of our staff first. Only with a good team can we service our clients better.”
As a testament to that service philosophy, many of the group’s clients, which are mainly MNCs in the oil, gas and chemical industries have engaged the company’s services for as long as 30 to 40 years.
PTC Logistics found itself at a crossroad in the 1980s when it had to choose between carving out a niche in the chemicals or the electronics sector. Choosing the former, it embarked on building the PTC Chemicals Logistics Complex in Jurong Island.
That move turned out to be “a major turning point” for the group after the PTC Chemicals Logistics Complex became operational in 2002 while the economy was recovering from a recession, Mr Poh recalls. The chemicals industry has become one of the key pillars for Singapore’s economic success. More than 60 per cent of PTC Logistics’ businesses are from the chemicals sector.
Another pivotal moment in the company’s history was in 1999 when the formerly named Poh Tiong Choon Contractors (Pte) Ltd undertook a critical business review in preparation for initial public offer (IPO). The restructured and renamed Poh Tiong Choon Logistics Limited launched an IPO; its public tranche was 163 times over-subscribed and the company was successfully listed on the main board of the Singapore Stock exchange in the same year.
With the public listing, PTC Logistics emerged stronger, better equipped and garnered greater confidence from customers, shareholders and business associates.
Its expansion plans remain on track. The group is rebuilding its existing buildings and structures at Pandan Road into a modern ramp-up warehouse with an adjacent office block. To be completed by 2018, the redevelopment costs approximately S$130 million and will raise the total warehousing space from over 300,000 sq. ft. currently to 1.1 million sq. ft. The expanded warehousing capacity will allow the group to consolidate its business activities in a single location, better utilize its resources and reap the benefits of cost efficiency.
PTC Logistics still keeps an eye on China where the group entered in 1990s with the establishment of its wholly owned subsidiary based in Shanghai. Mr Poh says China still accounts for less than 20 per cent of the group’s business as “chaotic competition” in China among local players has suppressed service quality and prices. Still, he believes the logistics industry in China is maturing.
Over the years of helming the group, one of Mr Poh’s biggest satisfaction comes from enjoying family harmony. “I’m the youngest in the family with seven older siblings. Mutual trust and kinship are personal values that have guided my life journey and are fundamental to our Company’s success. “
With passion and interest in the arts and Chinese culture, Mr Poh has participated and contributed in many ways to the local arts and cultural organizations. In conjunction with PTC Logistics’ 60th anniversary in 2010, Mr Poh announced the setup of Poh Tiong Choon Arts Fund to promote the appreciation of cultural and arts activities in Singapore. “This is a milestone in our continuous efforts to promote a more gracious and harmonious society through the participation of cultural and arts activities,” Mr Poh explains. The Poh Tiong Choon Arts Fund also helps to promote and groom artistic talents in Singapore through sponsorships.
The success of PTC Logistics is evident by its pervasive culture of “Humanity as the roots of harmony in the enterprise, Kinship as the origins of harmony in the family” (?心是企?和? 之根;?情是家族和?之本). These core values are the group’s greatest spiritual wealth that have underpinned its success.
By staying committed to its corporate heritage of harmony, kinship and family, PTC Logistics has successfully built a business set to sustain for generations to come.
Poh Choon Ann is a winner of the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards 2015 Singapore, under the Outstanding Category. The Awards were held on 14th August 2015 at Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel.