Re­defin­ing the Pos­si­ble in the Philip­pines

Asia Outlook - - Contents - Writer: Tom Wad­low | Project Man­ager: Tom Cul­lum

Con­struc­tion with a per­sonal touch

Busi­nesses are buoy­ant in the Philip­pines. Be­tween 2010 and 2017 the coun­try’s econ­omy sus­tained an av­er­age an­nual growth of 6.4 per­cent, markedly up on the

4.5 per­cent seen in the pre­ced­ing nine years and plac­ing it among East Asia’s top three per­form­ers.

From busi­ness process out­sourc­ing to fi­nance and in­sur­ance, many ser­vice in­dus­tries are thriv­ing thanks to strong con­sumer de­mand, a vi­brant labour mar­ket and ro­bust remit­tances.

Such has been the Philip­pines’ rapid rate of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment; the World Bank es­ti­mates it will tran­si­tion from a lower-mid­dle in­come na­tion to an up­per-mid­dle in­come coun­try in the medium term.

This is also helped by the fact that Pres­i­dent Duterte is spear­head­ing a mas­sive na­tion­wide in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment pro­gramme, some­thing which com­pa­nies such as Sea­pac Philip­pines are poised to take ad­van­tage of and add value to.

“The av­er­age age in the Philip­pines is 23,” com­ments the Com­pany’s Founder and Chair­man James Chant. “This means, sta­tis­ti­cally, we can sus­tain a six per­cent-plus growth for up to 20 years due to the emerg­ing mid­dle-class mar­ket.”

Con­struc­tion out of a cri­sis

Sea­pac Philip­pines Inc is a spe­cial­ist in the de­sign, sup­ply and in­stal­la­tion of alu­minium and glass fa­cades, win­dow walls, doors and win­dows for both res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial projects.

Now sit­u­ated in the heart of an econ­omy that is thriv­ing, the ori­gins of the Com­pany trace back to a time of far more trou­bled wa­ters.

“I came up to the Philip­pines in

1992 to do a job for some­one,” Chant re­calls. “It was the main en­try of the then In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Ho­tel. I met some peo­ple on var­i­ous projects af­ter this and was ap­proached to start a com­pany here, and Chris Shearer and

my­self did so in 1998, in the height of the Asia Cri­sis.

“The dol­lar went through the roof and com­pa­nies were leav­ing town, but we stuck it out.”

Chant moved per­ma­nently to the coun­try in 2006, his ear­lier ca­reer be­ing spent in Aus­tralia’s power gen­er­a­tion sec­tor.

“I ended up back in Sydney and had met a girl,” he con­tin­ues. “Her step­fa­ther was a project man­ager for a large firm and I started to sub-con­tract in­stalling win­dows.

“Some­one even­tu­ally asked me to make a shop front and I made that first win­dow on my back lawn. Soon I got a small fac­tory and that is how I started in this busi­ness in July 1978, 40 years ago.”

Un­der Chant and Shearer’s stew­ard­ship, Sea­pac has grown into an or­gan­i­sa­tion ca­pa­ble of de­sign­ing and in­stalling cur­tain walls on any project, de­sign­ing and sup­ply­ing point fixed walls of any size, and sup­ply­ing and in­stalling res­i­den­tial doors across the full spec­trum of build­ings.

At the mo­ment, the Com­pany is ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing around 4,500 win­dows and more than 1,500 uni­tised cur­tain wall pan­els per month.

Set­ting the stan­dard

Asked what sets Sea­pac Philip­pines apart from com­pet­ing com­pa­nies, Chant is quick to state a num­ber of na­tional firsts that the firm has achieved.

It is the first ISO 9001-cer­ti­fied com­pany in the Philip­pines, the first mem­ber of the US Green Build­ing Coun­cil, and the first to be cer­ti­fied by Dow Corn­ing un­der its qual­ity bond pro­gramme. Sea­pac’s former of­fice also housed the coun­try’s first ca­ble sup­ported point fixed glass wall.

These break­throughs would not have been pos­si­ble with­out the firm’s co­hort of 800 em­ploy­ees, just five of which are ex­pats. These peo­ple are the strength of Sea­pac Philip­pines – the Sea­pac Pam­ilya (fam­ily).

“It is dif­fi­cult, but we try to hire the best and keep them if pos­si­ble,” Chant says. “We have a small group of guys who have been with us from the start – they are called the pi­o­neers. While not many of them re­main due to re­tire­ment, we have a very large HR sec­tion ded­i­cated to re­cruit­ment of what I hope to be their successors.”

This em­pha­sis on peo­ple is also re­flected in Sea­pac’s ap­proach to build­ing part­ner­ships with clients and sup­pli­ers.

“To me busi­ness is per­sonal,”

Chant con­tin­ues. “Our sup­pli­ers are a very im­por­tant part of our abil­ity to per­form. Our re­la­tion­ship with cus­tomers is the same. Re­la­tion­ships with com­pa­nies forged a long time ago con­tinue to this day.”

New begin­nings

Oc­to­ber 2018 marked a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone for Sea­pac’s de­vel­op­ment, Chant and part­ner Shearer cut­ting the rib­bon on a brand-new of­fice de­sign fa­cil­ity in Makati, the heart of the Philip­pine’s fi­nan­cial dis­trict.

“The of­fice is com­plete and is very spe­cial, and not just be­cause it is pretty and has a party deck on the roof,” he says.

“Each work sta­tion is con­nected to a cen­tralised UPS. We have full build­ing power gen­er­a­tion – if the power goes off the com­put­ers do not shut down. Emer­gency lights are ac­ti­vated and in 20 sec­onds the gen­er­a­tor starts and within 45 sec­onds full build­ing power is on­line which in­cludes air con­di­tion­ing.”

While this new fa­cil­ity will greatly en­hance Sea­pac’s internal work­ings, it is the Com­pany’s work for clients which in­stils fur­ther pride in Chant.

He iden­ti­fies the firm’s work as cur­tain wall con­trac­tor for the Fair­mont Raf­fles Ho­tel and Res­i­dences as a stand­out project he has in­volved him­self with.

“The main rea­son I have high­lighted this is the ex­tent to which we had to jus­tify the de­sign,” he ex­plains. “Mein­hardt was the façade con­sul­tant but the client also had Bureau Ver­i­tas out of the Mid­dle East.

“To cut a long story short, we had to jus­tify struc­tural glaz­ing. We ended up send­ing a full Au­toCAD 3D model to Ger­many to have it fully tested elec­tron­i­cally by an ex­ter­nal re­source com­pany. The de­sign stood up and the project pro­ceeded. The per­for­mance test was at­tended by no less than five con­sul­tants, and this passed as well.”

In full swing

Sea­pac Philip­pines’ cur­rent pipe­line looks equally as vi­brant, the

Com­pany run­ning around 30 projects con­cur­rently at any one time.

These range from de­sign phase to start up, full swing and hand­ing over, cov­er­ing the likes of res­i­den­tial tow­ers and other full de­sign con­structs, the most sig­nif­i­cant on­go­ing work be­ing the Uptown Park­suites project in Manila.

Slated for com­ple­tion to­wards the end of 2019, the lux­ury 50-storey de­vel­op­ment com­prises two- to three­bed­room ex­ec­u­tive stu­dios and a limited num­ber of pent­house units.

While Manila may rep­re­sent a ma­jor mar­ket for Sea­pac, Chant is also look­ing be­yond the cap­i­tal for new

op­por­tu­ni­ties. In par­tic­u­lar, Clark, Cebu and Dav (Davou) rep­re­sent promis­ing re­gions.

“In Clark, huge amounts are be­ing spent,” Chant ex­plains. “Clark Global City, for ex­am­ple, is a new de­vel­op­ment where they are spend­ing $5 bil­lion over the next five to 10 years, and this is only one de­vel­op­ment. This used to be a US air base but is be­ing trans­formed into a new in­ter­na­tional air­port with a pro­posed high-speed train to Manila.”

In Cebu, Sea­pac will be look­ing to join in with the city’s pro­jected growth of up to 47 per­cent over three years, fu­elled by a bustling busi­ness process out­sourc­ing mar­ket and home to sev­eral grand con­struc­tions like those tak­ing place at WIDUS casino. Dav is also ex­pe­ri­enc­ing rapid growth, its econ­omy ex­pand­ing by 10.9 per­cent this year and show­ing no sign of let­ting up.

The fu­ture out­side of Manila is thus an ex­cit­ing one for both Chant and the coun­try as a whole.

Re­flect­ing on the strides made by Sea­pac Philip­pines so far and what the next chap­ter has in store, the Chair­man con­cludes: “I would like to say that the Com­pany will have ex­panded into these new mar­kets and is still grow­ing.

“Sea­pac when we started was just an­other alu­minium com­pany.

The sys­tem de­signs using mod­ern tech­nolo­gies have proven very suc­cess­ful in de­vel­op­ing part­ner­ships with com­pa­nies who wanted a qual­ity prod­uct. Self-drain­ing, pres­sure equalised sys­tems at all lev­els of man­u­fac­ture, mod­ern glass tech­nolo­gies and spe­cific in­stal­la­tion tech­niques have en­abled Sea­pac to move for­ward.

“It is true that a lot of com­pa­nies have now caught up. It is up to us to push the bound­aries fur­ther.

“We look for­ward to the chal­lenge.”

Sea­pac spe­cialises in glass fa­cades

‘Sea­pac Philip­pines’ cur­rent pipe­line looks... vi­brant, the Com­pany run­ning around 30 projects con­cur­rently at any one time’

Sea­pac re­cently opened its new of­fice fa­cil­i­ties

Chant is look­ing to grow project work both in and out­side of Manila

The new of­fice is fit­ted out with a smart power sys­tem and party deck

Sea­pac pro­vides end-to-end solutions on all of its projects

Sea­pac Philip­pinesTel: +63 2 837 1608 sea­[email protected]­pac-philip­ www.sea­pac-philip­

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