Unik Galvanizing, the local sole hot-dip galvanising service provider in Brunei is anticipating to secure a greater market share for metal fabrication in the country, hoping to leverage on its diversification efforts to become the sultanate’s one-stop metal solutions provider. 

This was said by its Managing Director Chen Chi Wing on the sidelines of a site visit by Unified National Network (UNN) at the metal finishing company’s plant at the Sungai Bera Industrial Estate in Belait.

Established in 2007, Unik has been serving the diverse needs of local industries ranging from construction, oil and gas as well as marine, for over ten years. 

Recently, however, the company has pivoted its business operations to extend beyond its flagship service of galvanising, and diversifying its services to include manufacturing steel lighting poles, tubular poles, guardrails and structural fabrication. 

Chen said that the move came about due to the oil price plunge of 2014-2016, where oil and gas activities were significantly reduced, affecting the sustainability of the company which had predominantly serviced players in the industry, as a subcontractor. 

“We were forced to diversify for our survival (going into) metal fabrication by investing more towards machinery and human resources to become Brunei’s one and only manufacturer of lighting posts and highway guard rails,” he said. 

He added that despite being Brunei’s only provider of hot-dip galvanising – a process that prevents metal surfaces from corrosion by immersing them in molten zinc – the current metal finishing landscape had also bred the need for Unik to diversify. 

Apart from the small niche market of hot-dip galvinising, a significant amount of imported metals are not only cheap, but they have already been galvanised, therefore reducing the company’s market share over the years, he explained. 

“Furthermore, though we try to be as competitive as China, we purchase most of our fabrication consumables in Brunei, which is very expensive, because we want to play our part in supporting the business ecosystem in Brunei, and so, in some ways we cannot compete with China,” he said. 

“This of course will increase the manufacturing cost in Brunei, but at the same time, it can decrease reliance on imported metals and hopefully, moving forward there’s an added awareness on using local products in terms of metal finishing and fabrication,” he added. 

Ultimately, Unik is hoping that its diversification efforts would land them a bigger market share of Brunei, especially after being approved by the Department of Electrical Services as a manufacturer of lighting posts and highway guard rails. 

Chen then went on to express Unik’s commitment towards growing its business, hoping to increase its local workforce by 10 per cent each year. 

The company currently employs 27 people and is hoping to reach a target of 40 to 50 employees by the end of next year. 

This article was first published on November 28, 2020 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 117

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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