How Supreme Industries has expanded in Papua New Guinea

Port Moresby-based retailer/wholesaler Supreme Industries found itself needing facilities and services it couldn’t source in Papua New Guinea, so it created them. Group Managing Director Sanjay Shah, tells Business Advantage PNG that the group has grown quickly and is anticipating more diversification.

Supreme Industries’ Sanjay Shah

Port Moresby-based Supreme Industries started in July 1997, primarily as a retailer and wholesaler, but has grown into a diversified company.

‘It has expanded into various industries: from manufacturing of uniforms, to offset printing and ICT solutions,’ says Group Managing Director Sanjay Shah.

‘The internet services will not go down because we use three different providers to back it up.’

‘The Supreme Group is associated with a lot of organisations, from mining to agriculture to the retail industry.’

PNG solutions

The very nature of PNG’s business environment drove the company to offer additional services, as Shah explains.

‘When you start building up your organisation, you come across the fact that there is a lot of facilities that are not available,’ says Shah.

Story continues after advertisment...

‘So you have to backward integrate, or forward integrate, to move forward.

‘And, in PNG, you often don’t find the skilled work force, so you have to get different expatriates out of different parts of the world.

‘You source people with skills in the different industries to head your different operations—and then build a workforce around it from the local and surrounding population.’

Growth

Shah says when the company moved into ICT solutions, establishing Digitec earlier this decade, extensive background research was undertaken.

‘We put our efforts into putting up our data storage centre and then moving into internet solutions.

‘Basically, [we offer] ISP solutions for the business houses with a triple redundancy package.

‘The internet services will not go down because we use three different providers to back it up.

‘We are the only current providers who have got this triple redundancy in place.’

‘The company has levels, ‘but it is a more open’ type of hierarchy.’

Shah says growth of Digitec has been rapid and it has become ‘one of the major focuses of our company’.

He says the uniform making operations have also achieved strong growth.

Management

Managing conglomerates can be complex. Shah says the company has levels of management, ‘but it is a more open’ type of hierarchy.

‘There are people who can step up very easily without any going to the board of directors.’

One important management imperative, says Shah, is to control costs.

‘The company is looking to get into other sectors which are lacking in Papua New Guinea.’

Many local companies, he says, were overly optimistic because of the PNG LNG project, and were then caught out.

‘A lot of people increased their capacity to cater to such projects coming in the future, thinking that the second train and the third train would start immediately behind that.

‘They didn’t. Some people had to scale down; while some people kept their costs down so they managed to keep on growing.’

Future

Shah says the company is looking to move into other sectors ‘which are lacking in Papua New Guinea’. He points to education and health.

‘[There is a need] for enhancement of the workforce in Papua New Guinea.

‘It hinders a lot of expansion in the country. There is a need for skills and education, especially in the vocational area.

‘If you are doing infrastructure you need trade skills: plumbing, electricians, bricklayers, road builders.

‘At the moment a lot of that is lacking,’ he says, noting that a lot of work that should be done in PNG is currently going overseas.

Speak Your Mind

*