Five questions for Nihal Shah, Chairman of manufacturer Pacific Foam

Papua New Guinea manufacturer Pacific Foam is celebrating its 40th year of operation in the country. Business Advantage PNG talks to Chairman Nihal Shah about the company’s history and its vision for the future.

Pacific Foam’s Nihal Shah. Source: Pacific Foam

Business Advantage PNG (BAPNG): What is Pacific Foam’s history in PNG?

Nihal Shah: Starting from humble beginnings in 1978, Pacific Foam was the first and is still the largest manufacturer of polyurethane (PU) foam in PNG today. From an initially modest start in Lae 40 years ago, today it has two comprehensive manufacturing sites in Lae and Port Moresby with full national market coverage as well as periodic exports into the wider Pacific region.

BAPNG: How would you describe the company’s structure and market positioning?

Shah: Today, we are a vertically integrated manufacturer of flexible PU foam as well as quality Silip Isi foam mattresses, Dreameasy spring mattresses, wooden and upholstered furniture, and soft furnishings. These products are proudly PNG-made and second to none in quality, as proven in the marketplace.

 

BAPNG: Where are you looking for growth?

Over the journey, the group has moved into the manufacture of value-added foam products, such as spring mattress and lounge suites. In addition, we have diversified into the manufacture of various packaging products—cardboard, plastic bottles and closures, buckets and containers, plastic bags and films.

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Today, it is the largest diversified packaging supplier in PNG and can meet all the packaging needs of the various sectors of the growing PNG economy: retail, wholesale, fast moving consumer goods manufacture, food and beverage manufacture, agriculture, fisheries, construction, mining and resources, hospitality and catering.

The product range has expanded in recent years to include flooring products (such as broadloom carpet, carpet tiles and vinyl) as well as office furniture, premium leather furniture, outdoor and plastic furniture. Our products are proudly carried by all quality retailers and wholesalers across the entire nation.

BAPNG: What is your approach to human resources?

Shah: The group employs approximately 200 employees, over 95 per cent of whom are local PNG nationals. It has had a strong belief in training and growing its local workforce and continues to build and invest in its human resource capacity.

BAPNG: How would you describe current market conditions?

Shah: While economic conditions are definitely very tough in the country today, Pacific Foam Group does sees a bright long-term future and continues to invest in its manufacturing capabilities to grow its business and help the national goal to reduce reliance on imports.

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