25 July 17 The Business Times by NG XIN YU,NEO SIEW KHOON,TAN XUE TING SUPANSA
THE dip in global trade since 2008 and the decline in demand for freight spelled trouble for the shipping and marine industry. Several firms have succumbed to the economic uncertainties including South Korea's Hanjin Shipping and more recently, Germany's Rickmers Group.
Despite the tumult, AMOS International has managed to stay afloat and has recorded remarkable achievements within a short span of 13 years. Founded in 2004 by Danny Lien, AMOS International has grown from a team of 12 to a dynamic workforce of almost 130 employees today.
The company started as a traditional marine technical consumables and provisions supplier, but has since transitioned to offer a comprehensive range of "one stop" marine and offshore solutions. The new services and solutions include global procurement and logistics solutions, engineering and maintenance solutions, and catering contracts for the marine crew on board the vessels.
Despite being a relatively young company, AMOS has recorded several key milestones. In 2014, the company welcomed its first private equity investment by Shaw Kwei & Partners, which supported AMOS's growth with new state-of-the-art capabilities and technology improvements.
Mr Lien advocates that one important pillar to AMOS's success today is the strong relationship with its customers. "Customer relationship is very important to us, especially in the marine and offshore business," highlights Mr Lien. By nurturing close business ties with customers, AMOS is able to hold its own against larger global competitors.
In order to maintain close ties with its customers, Mr Lien frequently travels to Europe, North America and Asia. He also invites customers to visit AMOS's headquarters in Singapore and the company actively participates in major international industry trade shows. Mr Lien makes use of these platforms to understand his customers on a deeper level by identifying gaps in their operations and recognising the ever-changing industry trends to better serve their interests.
These strong and positive relationships with its customers have proven to be valuable, as AMOS has won a substantial number of contracts over the years. The company has also secured five key contracts with major international shipping companies such as Pacific International Lines in Singapore and CMA CGM in France, which boosted its revenue and presence in the shipping and marine industry.
With Mr Lien at the helm, AMOS has focused on continuous learning and innovation. The company's very own in-house Quality Assurance team is tasked with the ongoing review of the process flow. Gaps identified in the process are closed with an aim to achieve better quality and service for its clients. Furthermore, employee discussions about the operational process are commonplace in AMOS with a key focus on enhancing productivity and customer satisfaction.
Evidence of innovation is everywhere in AMOS, with the company reaching out to external vendors to customise and develop its equipment. Embracing technology, AMOS has pioneered the use of state-of-the-art technologies and machines within the industry to improve productivity and accuracy.
This has led to the use of vertical lift modules and automated guided vehicles, coupled with mobile devices and applications, which enhanced operational efficiencies by improving the speed and accuracy in order-fulfillment. The company was awarded The Singapore Productivity Award in 2016 by the Singapore Business Federation.
Consistency in products and services
AMOS's strong belief in tracking its processes and plugging gaps has propelled the company to become one of the major players of the maritime industry in Singapore. Its drive for quality has enabled it to achieve numerous international certifications for its quality standards.
The list includes Singapore Quality Class (SQC), People Developer, Singapore Productivity Award, and other ISO certifications such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 22000, ISO 22301 and OHSAS 18001. The company is currently preparing for two other ISO certifications for Logistics and IT infrastructure.
"Getting the ISO accreditation is only the tip of the iceberg," said Mr Lien. Despite these certifications, he emphasises the importance of being consistent. Employees are encouraged to offer work improvement suggestions that aid AMOS in complying with the SQC and ISO standards.
"It has to be part of the company's DNA, otherwise it will always be a struggle for the company to comply and to conform to the standards," Mr Lien added. The ISO standards in place also assist AMOS in its quest to consistently deliver high quality products and services across its operations in Asia.
To serve its clients better, AMOS expanded its presence regionally. The strategic move received favourable response from its clients as they showed continued support in AMOS's product and service offerings at its new locations. AMOS is currently present in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Yangon, Port Klang, Singapore and Colombo; and maintains a customer relationship office in Mumbai.
Braving the storm
The shipping and offshore sectors both present their own sets of challenges. AMOS not only faces pressures of competing against multinational corporations, but also global headwinds and a host of industry-specific challenges.
While the economy is predicted to remain sluggish in the quarters ahead, AMOS is taking advantage of the situation to build its capabilities and to upskill its workforce. This will put the company in good stead to overcome future challenges and capitalise on growth opportunities.
With greater industrialisation and urbanisation, AMOS foresees an increasing global demand for energy, especially in major economies such as China and India, as well as developing economies such as Myanmar. As such, one of the company's strategic moves involves replicating its business model and developing its service offerings to the energy sector.
Additionally, AMOS is transitioning into becoming a technical services provider for the oil, gas and shipping industries. This is to leverage the opportunities available as Singapore assumes a unique technical services and solutions role in Asia, serving the resource-rich countries in the region.
As the marine and offshore solutions provider rides this wave, its future will continue to remain bright.
AMOS is also exploring opportunities for Mergers and Acquisitions (M&As) to strengthen its reach and service offerings into promising sectors such as power generation. Other than engaging in the annual business planning process, senior management constantly surveys the market for M&A opportunities. These potential strategic acquisitions aim to grow AMOS exponentially. In fact, AMOS is currently in the process of acquiring two product companies, with the aim to bring its product offerings to greater heights.
Setting sail into the future
With the E50 Award under its belt, AMOS continues its voyage of holistic business excellence as it strives towards becoming the industry's innovative thought leader.
- The writers are students from NUS Business School