The East Asiatic Company’s 120th Anniversary

On 1 September, 2004 EAC will celebrate its 120th Anniversary in Thailand. The Company will mark this event by hosting a reception for the members of the DTCC at the Royal Danish Embassy on Wednesday 2 September.
     EAC was founded by a visionary, young Danish Sea Captain H.N. Andersen. He first arrived in Bangkok in 1873 onboard the brig MARS. He settled in Bangkok in 1879 after having sailed for some years on THOON KRAMOM, a bark owned by H.M. King Chulalongkorn. Initially he sailed as a first mate and thereafter as master of this vessel.
     But Captain Andersen also had talents as a businessman and trader and after having stepped ashore in Bangkok, he founded the trading and shipping firm Andersen & Company on 1 September, 1884.
     Captain Andersen obtained teak concessions in Northern Siam and Andersen & Company’s trading and shipping business subsequently flourished.
     In 1897 Captain Andersen returned to Denmark and established The East Asiatic Company Ltd. At the start, this company’s organization consisted of offices in Copenhagen and Bangkok only, the latter mainly being based on the import activities and forestry enterprises taken over from Andersen & Company and the associated timber export business.
     From the outset the ideas and business philosophy of EAC was those of a widely diversified conglomerate, engaged in shipping, industries, forestry and plantations and trading in a great variety of products. The company in Denmark quickly expanded its activities and gradually became an important world-wide shipping, trading and industrial group. The company in Thailand was an instrumental brick in the building of this conglomerate.
     In Thailand, the Company continued its development within trading, forestry, sawmilling and plantation businesses. The Wat Phya Krai sawmill on the banks of the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok was purchased in 1907. Over the years, as Thailand’s industries developed, EAC’s emphasis moved from trade in agricultural products and commodities to the establishment of a comprehensive business base, which included the supply of chemicals and other ingredients for the rapidly expanding manufacturing industry. In the early years the Company also established a branch network in Thailand, comprising offices in Hatyai, Surat Thani, Lampang and later Chiang Mai.
     The acquisition of Oriental Machinery Stores in 1930 marked the beginning of EAC’s involvement in the marketing of machinery and technical products, including machinery and supplies for the graphic arts industry, business lines which have later been divested.
     Arising from a close association with the well-known British ICI Group since 1932, EAC has become a major distributor of a wide range of chemicals and other industrial ingredients to Thai industry. The relationship with ICI also led to the establishment of a number of joint venture manufacturing companies, and EAC in Thailand therefore has a comprehensive involvement in both distribution and manufacturing of industrial chemicals and paints.

Current business and vision

In the middle of the 1990’ies the company in Thailand, ahead of its parent company in Denmark, started a transition to focus only on areas where it had clear leadership. Similarly, the parent company has undergone a marked structural change with divestment of many businesses to facilitate a total focus on 4 core business areas, in which it had the greatest skills, the best know-how and the best ability to add value. EAC Industrial Ingredients is one of these core business areas, evolved from the chemicals business of EAC Thailand and now a modern and dynamic Group of companies totally focused on the marketing and distribution of raw materials and industrial ingredients to the manufacturing industries in Thailand and all other major markets in South East Asia.
     EAC Industrial Ingredients, headquartered in Thailand, and with operations in Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore sees it as its vision to be the leading independent provider of industrial ingredients to industry in South East Asia. To achieve this vision, EAC Industrial Ingredients has adopted as its mission, simply put, to deliver an effective and cost efficient route to market for producers of materials to industry.
     The business has 3 legs i.e. a large and profitable distribution business in Thailand, a rapidly growing regional distribution position, and a number of joint ventures where EAC on the basis of an evolving distribution role had the opportunity of making very profitable investments. These investments, which came about as importation led to a scale that required local manufacturing, contribute significantly to EAC’s bottom line.
     In 2003 EAC Thailand’s consolidated turnover amounted to well over Baht 4 billion and generated a net result after tax of Baht 448 million. Total staff strengths employed is in excess of 400 people, of which 228 persons are working in Thailand.
     As a leading and highly successful business in its own right and operating in one of the growth areas of the world, EAC Thailand is facing the future with confidence and determination. While the founder H.N. Andersen’s mottos were “The world is no larger than it can be encompassed by thought” and “pursuit of active interplay between activities”, the name of the game for EAC Industrial Ingredients is focus. It is about achieving the specialization and the competencies, which are pre-requisites for achieving leadership in its field in South East Asia.

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Gregers Møller

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