Eastman Chemicals (M) Sdn Bhd
Eastman Chemical (M) Sdn Bhd’s (Eastman Chemical) decision to build co-polyester plastics plant in Gebeng Industrial Estate in Pahang, Malaysia in 1997 was based on a two-year study of 11 sites in four countries in the South-East Asia. Among the factors of selecting Gebeng Iindustrial are the complete package offered in terms of facility and infrastructure, as well as a close proximity to the Kuantan Port.
Asia is the biggest potential market for Eastman Chemical specifically in co-polyester plastics. Our product is to be exported to Asia. So, in order to export to Asia, one needs to be somewhere in Asia. So where does one look for a place to locate in Asia? The location needs to be politically stable, welcomes foreign investments, open to international companies and most importantly has access to trained workforce. That was why Eastman Chemical selected Malaysia.
Basically, the main reason was the availability of raw materials crucial for our product. The Gebeng Industrial Estate is nicely developed because the Kuantan Port is here (because 98% of what we make is exported out and we have to receive delivery of important source of raw materials from the USA from time to time). In addition, other by-products are also within close reach provided by our suppliers. In short, one source of raw material is right next door while the other source of raw material is just 45-minute away.
How did Eastman start operations in Gebeng??
Eastman Chemical has been in operations for 23 years in Kuantan, Pahang. We started off with a small office in Kompleks Teruntum with just 10 employees. As the site in Gebeng Industrial Estate began construction, we added 15 to 20 expatriates mainly from the USA. These expatriates were here to train the locals i.e. the operators, the engineers (maintenance) as well as the managers. All trainings were conducted using the Train-the-Trainer methodology because Eastman Chemical wanted to transfer the knowledge to the locals. The plant became 100% Malaysians within a few years of its incorporation.
In 2012, the investment growth of the company continues by integrating with Flexsys Chemicals Malaysia factory, which is located next to the Eastman manufacturing center in Gebeng.
How has PKNP assisted Eastman Chemical?
In the beginning, PKNP acted as the one-stop-agency whereby it handled all of the paperwork on requests and applications for example with the land authority, power supply facility with Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), telephone and fax lines with Telekom Malaysia (TM), water supply, and many more. PKNP has shown tremendous commitment in providing its professional services to Eastman Chemical to obtain all the necessary approvals within a short period of time.
With all the hassle of paperwork out of its way, we were able to focus on our business and achieve profitability within the first six months after commencing production. This record has been hailed within the Eastman Chemical Group as a model for other start-up operations around the world.