The Chao Phraya River has long been vital to Thailand and its citizens way of life. In the past, Thai’s benefited from the river being a major mode of transportation; and equally still, the river serves as an important mode of transportation driving the economy of the country.
Over the past few decades, many private corporations have begun establishing services along the river to better connect importers and exporters within the country to international shipping lines. Each of these providers have continually competed to elevate their services to better answer to their customers’ needs. Standing out prominently amongst the crowd is Sahathai Terminal Public Company Limited (Sahathai Terminal) which has rapidly expanded their services, aiming beyond just being a leading port.
Nine years of organic growth have made Sahathai Terminal a fully comprehensive hub, thanks in part to the determination and visionary attitude of its founding father, Mr. Thaweesak Karuchit and his life’s partner Ms. Sauwakun Karuchit. Therefore, we were honored to speak with Ms. Sauwakun Karuchit, Chief Executive Officer, Sahathai Terminal PCL. and Mr. Banchai Karuchit, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, as they are shared with us their secrets behind a decade of successful growth and their ambition for their future.
More Than a Container Terminal
Sahathai Terminal is a relatively new company, but has been expanding their footprint rapidly to cover commercial terminal services, land transportation, warehousing and container depot services, freight forwarding and office space leasing. Currently, Sahathai Terminal operates two barge terminals and a feeder terminal, and can altogether accommodate 500,000 TEUs of containers per year. In 2015, they partnered with leading shipping line, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) to establish Bangkok Barge Terminal Co. Ltd. (BBT). The joint venture terminal is two kilometers away from the mother port and is the first river port to be granted an ICD license. Sahathai’s commercial terminal services also covers a container freight station (CFS) and container depot services; which have been put under the management of Bangkok Container Depot Service (BCDS), a new business arm under Sahathai Terminal’s umbrella.
Sahathai Terminal’s land transportation business serves Bangkok and its vicinity, including the Laem Chabang Port Area with warehousing and container depot services that includes a free zone with customs clearance, freight forwarding, and office space leasing. Ms. Karuchit, the CEO mentioned “Upon founding this corporation, the intention was to serve beyond just typical port services. Our goal was to become a comprehensive logistics provider. Our customers are not only shipping lines, but include both exporters and importers. We see ourselves as an intermediary between shippers and shipping lines; for the reason, our duty is to learn the needs of both and fill in the gap between the two sides, ensuring all their operation are smooth and effortless. We offer a variety of services from coastal shipping, feeder, CFS, container depot, freight forwarding and land transportation. Our services are continually developing, adapting to the changing industry landscape to better serve the needs of our customers.”
Reaching toward their goal of expansion, Sahathai Terminal recently entered onto the Thai Market for Alternative Investment (MAI) and raised public funds in November 2017. Their aim was to utilize the funding in reducing their costs and injecting capital into major projects to maximize their operational efficiency. Mr. Karuchit, the Deputy CEO said about the fund raising: “It took about six months from appointing a Financial Advisor to being granted approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission Thailand (SEC), until the day of initial public offering (IPO), which is considerably fast. Part of the success is because Sahathai Terminal has solid plans and structures already in place. We have already set up Independent Directors since day one of our operation, and all our involving processes are pursued according to the international standards. We aim to put the public funds into working capitals, pay up loans and expand our business according to our major plan. We are aiming to provide a more comprehensive service and better serve our customers.”
Sahathai Terminal says their goal is not to grow strong by themselves, but are looking to support and foster organic growth of all their logistics services they have with their business partners. “One of our core pillars is to convert competitors into cooperation, by joining forces, everyone can grow stronger. Instead of competing, we can always find a win-win situation where everyone can flourish and enjoy cost reductions,” said the CEO supported by Mr. Karuchit, the Deputy CEO. “We have joined hands with other ports and support each other’s operations. For instance, Sahathai Terminal bears more import volumes than export. We then cooperate with another port which has higher export margins than imports. Together, both ports can better balance their import/export volumes and cut wastes to operational costs. Such actions are considered a modern thinking ‘synergy’ where 1+1 = 3 and both the parties can be stronger together. The activity is also strengthening the foundation of the Thai Logistics industry towards the sustainable growth.”
On top of uniting forces with operators both domestically and internationally, internal unison is another core strength driving the expansion of the organization, as the CEO said: “We run our organization as one big family and every staff member are part of our family. We all work and take care of each other and always push to improve the workplace environment, living standards, and career advancements so everyone can grow and enjoy healthy benefits together.”
Another factor that has driven Sahathai Terminal to be successful is the understanding and determination to improve their service. “We dedicate every day to the organization. We want everyone to grow together. We love what we do, and we care about our staff. The staff also know that we are not here just to give them orders, but to get things done. All staff are always pushing forward together towards the same goal.” Ms. Karuchit said.
With the effective management that is strong from inside-out, Sahathai Terminal’s bright future is hard to discredit. They are fast sailing along the sustainable and organic growth stream, not only as a leading river terminal of Thailand, but also a dynamic engine for the growth of Thai logistics industry.