New owner of diversified technology company TE sees big future in Papua New Guinea

Retailer and wholesaler TE (PNG) is a diversified and adaptable company, says new Managing Director Robbie Huxley. He tells Business Advantage PNG he decided earlier this year to buy the 60-year-old company because he sees a positive future for PNG.

TE (PNG) operations in Waigani, Port Moresby. Source: TE

Huxley says he has just taken over the company. ‘I bought the company at the beginning of the year. Bob Taylor operated the company for 55 years.

‘The opportunity came up to buy the business and we decided to go for it.

‘We cover a pretty broad spectrum,. [TE has] been around a long time and we work with some of the biggest companies in PNG.

‘But we also sell direct to individual consumers—and everything in between.

‘The diversified offering affords the company some protection against economic volatility.’

‘Particularly in our project work, we have turnkey solutions. Because we have expertise in all of these fields, we can deliver a full solution rather than the client having to do it with multiple contractors.’

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Diversified

Huxley says the diversified offering affords the company some protection against economic volatility.

TE’s Robbie Huxley

‘You may have a period when one of our divisions won’t be doing so well but it is well supported by the other divisions. It depends on how the market is.

‘PNG obviously has gone through a lot of changes over the years and is still doing that.

‘We have these new technologies coming in and we have embraced, rather than being left behind.’

Huxley describes market conditions as quiet, but says the company’s customer relationships are strong and there are some healthy sectors.

‘Communications has been quite good for us. Most of the major mining entities require radio systems and wireless networks.

‘Commercial catering has also been another very good area for us. We deal with many of the large hotel chains and a lot of bakeries. Probably our biggest division in the last 12 months has been in the security division.

‘We are trying to concentrate on quality, which is our key focus. We work with some big customers and we try to make things sustainable and reliable and it has kept things ticking over.

‘The company does all of its purchasing offshore.’

‘But we have certainly seen the impact on a lot of smaller projects that haven’t gone ahead. The retail side has seen a downturn.

‘We are hoping that with the Total [Papua LNG] project there is an improvement coming.’

Foreign exchange

TE satellite equipment. Source: TE

Huxley says the company does all of its purchasing offshore, so the foreign exchange restrictions have been a challenge.

‘We spend a lot of time working with our bank. We have to have a lot more capital available.

‘We also run credit terms for some of our larger customers. That really does stretch the books at times.

‘Our bank has been working with the company for 60 years, so we have good terms with them and they understand it. We are slowly working through it.’

Adaptability

The company was originally founded in 1955 as a buying agency called Carl F Radke Agencies. It changed to its current name in 1976.

Huxley says the founder, Bob Taylor, started out small, and steadily built the company.

‘He went from working with a briefcase trekking around the country representing the brands. Then it built up to now where we have two showrooms and warehouses and 100 staff.

‘We travel all around the country. That all comes from adaptability and diversification.

‘I think there is a good future here. I am optimistic about the next five years. You only have to look at Port Moresby and see the development going in.

‘It is a tough country, but we are here for the long haul. We look forward to being here for another 60 years.’

Strength in diversity

Robbie Huxley says TE (PNG) has nine divisions:

  • satellite and terrestrial communication equipment
  • broadcasting equipment for television and radio
  • music
  • PA and pro-sound
  • information technology
  • locksmith and security electronics
  • retail showrooms
  • electrical warehouse
  • commercial catering equipment and
  • power technology.

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