If we look back in Wah Kwong’s 66-year history we see that the key to our success has been our ability to move very, very fast and by being prepared and able to meet opportunity. Good performance starts with good ships – we must build ships we are happy with strategically, technically and commercially. Right decisions on fleet growth are based on timing, access to capital and prudent market analysis – which requires an insight on where the market is and where it is heading. As such we have recently placed an order for two scrubber-fitted kamsarmax drybulk new-buildings for delivery in 2020 from our long- time partner Chengxi Shipyard, financed by another close partner China Merchants Bank Financial Leasing Co. Ltd. The market will always be what it is, so as management we need to focus on the things that we can change and the main challenge is our operational performance. We look for greater integration of ship operations with commercial activities, and treat our operational platform as a strategic asset rather than a cost of doing business. To this end we have recently combined our ship management and operations under a single leader – Captain J.F. Zhou, our Chief Operating Officer – integrated our finance and operational computer systems, and rolled our ship management system to all our ships.
What is surprising in shipping is how well it goes when it blooms and how badly it goes when it stumbles! The market is starting to improve in both the dry and wet sectors and we are seeing improved results. Demand is looking up in nearly all sectors, forward vessel supply is constrained, banks are cautious but we are in a volatile business and that volatility is increasing. Strategically what we are trying to do is diversify Wah Kwong’s business model to make it more resilient to market fluctuations which will preserve our competencies through market cycles. The development of Wah Kwong “Lite” as a forward-looking approach to our ownership model is a significant move in that direction. We have been quietly successful in 2018 in developing management deals with six Chinese leasing companies and our chartering partners that will increase our fleet under management to 50-60 ships by end of 2020. These are long- term service contracts that sometimes include some “skin in the game” from Wah Kwong. This sets us apart from other service providers.
We will utilize our core strength and reputation as a Chinese company, founded in Hong Kong, with a truly global outlook to provide shipping services to our partners and customers. We have embarked on a defined Partnership Strategy and developed a “China Policy” both led by our Director Hing Chao to further invest in and develop our operational footprint in China and overseas. These policies will give us a competitive edge by focusing on service quality and reliability.
Our founding family cares passionately about, and has faith in, our people and continually invests in making us good and smart. Our founders have given us the tools and it is up to us to do wonderful things with them remembering, of course, that the most important thing is to operate an environmentally sound and safe ship, and if that costs a little extra then we believe our partners and charterers will certainly appreciate that.
As a long-standing shipowner based in Hong Kong, Wah Kwong has been dedicated to investing and operating a diverse fleet, and providing first-rate service to our customers. We have extensive experience in various sectors and areas of shipping and a committed and professional team, which ensures safe operation of vessels and value maximization for our customers.
Over the past few years, the shipping industry has changed in fundamental ways. An example of this is the rise of financial institutions, in particular Chinese leasing companies, as shipowners. Being well-capitalized with a strong financial background, these organizations are actively acquiring and have built up significant shipping portfolios. The emergence and continuing expansion of this new class of shipowners have brought not only challenges but also opportunities to traditional shipowners. Generally speaking, the Leasing Companies do not have their own management team, and therefore need a trustworthy partner who can offer an all-inclusive asset management solution covering shipbuilding, technical management and commercial operation management – all Wah Kwong’s areas of expertise. With our veteran experience in the industry, we are well-equipped to provide all-in-one, third-party asset management services. We offer various tailor-made service packages and flexible modes of cooperation, such as shipbuilding supervision + technical management + commercial management, shipbuilding supervision + technical management + time charter hire, technical management + commercial management, to name a few. With a corporate culture rooted in decades of experience that emphasizes practicality and sustainability, Wah Kwong is well sought-after as a strategic partner and service-provider. Since the start of 2018, we have signed cooperation agreements with such financial shipowners as CMB Financial Leasing Co. Ltd., CSSC (Hong Kong) Shipping Leasing Co. Ltd., CDB Financial Leasing Co., Ltd., CSIC Leasing Co. Ltd., and Minsheng Financial Leasing Co. Ltd. to manage ships that they have invested in. Taking into account all the new projects under discussion, it is estimated that within two years, Wah Kwong will manage around 60 ships of various kinds.
After two years of actively exploring to innovate business strategy and development, we have successfully launched Wah Kwong “Lite”, our brand new strategy on asset management and operations. Looking to the future, while Wah Kwong is committed to our tradition as shipowner and tonnage provider, and will continue to invest in new ships in response to changing market conditions, at the same time, we aim to steadily expand our role as in third-party asset management. We believe that by blending these two key operational areas, Wah Kwong will be able to navigate the shipping market and adjust to its unpredictable cycles and ever-changing circumstances with greater agility and stability, while at the same time offering diversified and finest services to our customers.
Wah Kwong has over 60 years of experience running and managing our own fleet and for our partners. The close relationship our technical department has established with shipowners has allowed us to manage their ships with efficiency. As an internationally renowned shipping company, we have developed a shipowner’s vision, equipped with a tank of loyal maritime talents and diversified vessels. All these are clearly Wah Kwong’s advantages in ship management and value creation for our customers. In recent years, the Wah Kwong management team has rejuvenated with competent young officers such that our philosophy in ship management fits even closer with the newest market demands by regular training programmes.
As a shipowner-oriented company, Wah Kwong will continue to manage our fleet from the perspective of a shipowner which is an undeniable edge of ours. In addition, Wah Kwong enjoys a good reputation in tanker management. In Hong Kong, we are the only shipping company using all Chinese crew to operate VLCCs and VLGCs and one of the few that provide training programmes for tanker crew. Recently we have set up training centres in Weihai and Qingdao in Shandong to fully upgrade our crew’s professional knowledge related to tankers both theoretically and technically. VLCCs and VLGCs are often considered to be operated by high-end professional crew only. To our knowledge, Chinese leasing companies that have recently emerged as major shipowners tend to prefer Chinese crew. Wah Kwong is well-positioned to meet these shipowners’ needs should they decide to turn to oil tankers and liquefied gas carriers in the future. As shown by internal statistics, over 60 crew members from Mainland China, after being captains and chief engineers in Wah Kwong, continued their career in offshore management team in shipping organizations in Singapore, Hong Kong, and
Mainland China. This clearly illustrates that crew members who established their careers from Wah Kwong are highly recognized in maritime industry.
As shipowner, we have a diversified fleet that helps us hedge effectively our risks in the shipping business: while one type of ship nose-dives in the shipping market, another type could soar sky-high. As ship manager, we have rich experience and technical knowledge in managing ships. Our fleet include a wide variety of vessels, including capesize, handymax and panamax bulk-carriers, and VLCC and aframax tankers. In the near future, we will manage mini-cape bulkers and own kamsarmax bulkers. As our ships come in various types and sizes, we have sufficient seamen resource for different kinds of vessels. Therefore, we are able to meet requirements from different shipowners for the third-party asset management sector. Wah Kwong is also well-known for running a safe and stable fleet. As a matter of fact, we are known for having a very low incident rate in the industry.
Wah Kwong is an all-embracing company and our staff comes from various places. In our Hong Kong office, we have colleagues from the U.K., Hong Kong, India, Bangladesh and Mainland China. Wah Kwong can combine the working styles and beliefs of colleagues from different origins and this makes us more competitive. In 2015, 2016 and 2018, Wah Kwong was awarded the Hong Kong Shipowner of the year, based on votes by crew. This shows that Wah Kwong has a team of seafarers who feels truly at home in the company. Since over a decade ago when I joined Wah Kwong office in Hong Kong, I have felt a strong sense of belonging. In fact, we have a record of 0% churn rate of office staff for 7-8 consecutive years.
Wah Kwong will continue our people-oriented company culture and uphold professional training for maritime crew. Apart from regular seamen training, we aim to achieve the following:
Through years of operation Wah Kwong has nurtured a pool of maritime professionals, and developed deep technical knowledge as well as our own management model. We believe that, with a combination of modern technology, an efficient system, and professional training philosophy, our competencies will be reinforced. I strongly believe that the combination of the new business strategy and ship management measures will help Wah Kwong team reach our potential to the fullest.
The quality of a ship is undoubtedly the cornerstone of a good ship investment. Wah Kwong’s new-building supervision always insists on giving the finest service, starting from the design and construction phases to smooth vessel delivery for shipowners and their designated ship managers. What makes us stand out is our excellent coordination, both within our team and with external parties such as shipowners, shipyard and classification society. With these competitive advantages, we have built trust with business partners as well as an excellent reputation across the maritime industry.
Our new-building team commands strong technical background and hence acts as competent consultants on a wide range of technical issues from ship design and equipment to selecting the most suitable shipyard for our clients. Our professional knowledge and insights as shipowner ensure both excellent mutual understanding with shipyards, and that ships under our supervision meet the highest quality as well as our clients’ specific needs.
One of Wah Kwong’s unique features is the seamless coordination between our new-building team and ship management and operations departments, which is rarely seen in shipping companies. The tacit cooperation gives us a unique edge – we understand both viewpoints, building and managing fleet, and together we provide tailor-made and all-in-one service packages to fulfil clients’ different needs, including shipbuilding supervision, technical management and ship operation.
Wah Kwong has an excellent reputation and relationships in Mainland China. With our all-Chinese new-building team, Wah Kwong serves as a bridge between Chinese shipyards and leasing companies: in addition to offering professional new-building supervision and technical management, we also bring business opportunities to Chinese shipyards when clients need new vessels.