A month into working for Sinar Mas Oleochemical, I was asked to help in organising of one of its biggest milestones – the company’s 25th anniversary celebrations. It was a great opportunity for me to get to know more people and better understand the inner workings of the business so I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
We held a two-day event on 5 and 6 September in Medan, Indonesia, where the bulk of our operations are based. More than 150 customers, government officials, suppliers, bankers and members of the media joined us to learn about our operations. The Belawan refinery was the first stop of the visit where our guests learnt about how our feedstock such as Crude Palm Kernel Oil (CPKO) & Refined Bleached Deodorised Palm Stearin (RBDPS) are produced. Here, we showcased processing of our raw materials, and highlighted the stringent quality control processes needed right from this early stage, in order to achieve a high-quality end product.
The oleochemical production plant was next and a highlight of the day. Guests saw our main production facilities, quality control laboratory, the soap noodle plant and our warehouse. The tour brought our stakeholders closer to the people and processes involved in producing the high-quality oleochemical products they have come to expect from the Sinar Mas Oleochemical brand name. They also had the opportunity to learn about our sustainability efforts, through a workshop conducted by Agus Purnomo, MD of Sustainability and Strategic Stakeholder Engagement. The workshop detailed GAR’s holistic approach to sustainability in the business, in particular, talked about traceability, as well as our work in helping the communities where we operate in, grow with us. Afterwards, guests were treated to a tour around the cultural city of Medan, known for its interesting mix of cultures with Dutch, Chinese and Peranakan heritage, reflected in their delicious cuisine.
The event culminated in a gala dinner, celebrating the growth of the organisation and more importantly, the people who have helped in this journey. Amazingly, 90 employees have been with the company for more than 20 years, eight of them since the beginning.
The business started with GAR CEO and Chairman Franky Widjaja’s realisation that palm oil-based refined products would come to play an increasingly essential role in our everyday lives. There was a gap in the segment and he envisioned an organisation that could serve this need. Capitalising on his Japanese educational background, he fostered a deal with four major Japanese companies to be founders of Sinar Oleochemical International. The first production plant, commissioned in September 1994, came to be the most technologically-equipped oleochemical plant in Indonesia. With the efficiency of the Japanese work process and efforts of the founding team, it did well. It began its first commercial production in January 1995, less than two years after its ground-breaking ceremony in April 1992. Within a year of its commercial production, we obtained important ISO and Kosher Certifications allowing our products to be used by more stringent and advanced market segments.
Over time, the focus on quality and excellence paved the way for the organisation to expand and build a second production plant on the existing site in 2013, introducing new product offerings such as soap noodles and oleic acid. In 2014, our production plant also received the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification showing once again that as an organisation we are ready and committed to serve stricter market segments, gaining an advantage in the industry.
Personally, I’ve come to appreciate the focus on quality throughout the entire value chain; from the checks on raw materials such as CPKO & RBDPS, to the finished goods such as glycerine and soap noodles. Talking to our customers during the event, their appreciation of our dedication to quality is clear. Our wide range of accreditations demonstrates our attention to quality, systems and people, and we continue to strive to achieve higher standards in all areas.
It has been a truly transformative journey for Sinar Mas Oleochemical, and my key takeaway from being part of this event and this milestone, is how dedicated employees truly are the backbone of any organisation. Whether it is in organising a two-day event, or in growing with a company for 25 years, having the right people makes a huge difference.
Yash Mavani is an Executive in the CEO’s Office for Sinar Mas Oleochemical. He joined the organisation mid-2018 after completing his undergraduate studies in Economics and Finance from the Singapore Management University.