Lin Discusses Challenges And Strengths In Industry

For Shipping Service (Fiji) Limited  new chief executive, Jeffrey Lin, joining the industry was not a matter of choice. Former chief executive, Bernard Hong-Tiy takes over his father’s (Francis Hong-Tiy)
29 Oct 2014 15:53
Lin Discusses Challenges And Strengths In Industry
Jeffrey Lin, chief executive, Shipping Services (Fiji) Limited.

For Shipping Service (Fiji) Limited  new chief executive, Jeffrey Lin, joining the industry was not a matter of choice.

Former chief executive, Bernard Hong-Tiy takes over his father’s (Francis Hong-Tiy) position as managing director of the company.

After experiencing what some fresh graduates binged on following his studies abroad, thanks to his father, Mr Lin landed himself a job.

“I guess you can say that I got into shipping by default and credit must go to my late dad for this career choice,” he reflected.

“After having returned to Fiji in February 1994 upon completing an Associate Diploma in Accounting from TAFE NSW,  I was in no hurry to get a job, truth be told, I guess I was just enjoying being back home but more so the parties.

“Like every concerned dad, he thought I was wasting my life so he approached his cousin, my uncle – Francis Hong Tiy (Shipping Services former managing director) to get me a job in his shipping agency.”

And so began Mr Lin’s career. He’s had 21 years of experience having started off in 1994 as a disbursement officer in the capital.

He adds in all this time, there was never a dull moment and has never looked backed since that day.

In regards to your appointment as CEO for Shipping Services in July, what are some of the changes you’re looking to implement?

I’m humbled to have a deep sense of responsibility to the board, the staff and their families.

Re-changes:  Excuse the cliché “why change something that is not broken”.  I’ve been on the job for a little over 3 months now and in that time I must say that I am generally happy with what I have seen. This says a lot about my predecessor and the calibre of staff that we have.  For the longer term – perhaps a more robust and leaner company.

What are your views on Fiji’s shipping industry?

Without a doubt, Fiji’s shipping industry plays a pivotal role in connecting Fiji with the rest of world and vice versa as far as trade and investment is concerned.

I will go as far as to say that it is the lifeline between Fiji and the outside world and vice versa. No shipping industry equals nil economic growth. It’s plain and simple as that.

We have come a long way from the conventional  “breakbulk” shipping days to containerised shipping which has made shipping of goods safer, easier and more convenient.

Competition has seen the erosion of freight rates. Aactually, freight rates are at an all-time low.

This is certainly good for the consumer however not so good for the shipping lines as overhead costs remain high whilst revenue has and continues to decline.

SSFL have and continue to work smarter and leaner to ensure we provide a sustainable product to our customers.

Discuss some of the challenges and some of the success stories of Fiji’s shipping industry?

Trying to maintain a decent product amidst freight rate erosion. The other would be container detention.  This is where a customer keeps a shipping container over and above the allowable free days.

I guess history has contributed to this challenge as it was the norm for shippers to hold onto to containers for as long as they wanted without been penalised.

For the shipping lines, an idle container is revenue lost and in most cases an added cost to the shipping lines seeing that most of these containers are not owned outright by the shipping line but leased.

All shipping lines in Fiji continue to face this challenge. However I must admit that customers are now well informed of the consequences of holding onto boxes over the free days and are complying with the terms of conditions of the free days.

Success – connecting Fiji to the rest of world and in the process assisting with export market show casing our products to the rest of world.

How do you gauge Shipping Services presence?

Very strong.  We are into our 23rd year of operation.  I’d like add that the past 16 years of that have been single principal agencies, unlike other agencies that represent more than one principal.

Come to think about it, I believe we are the only agency that represents only one principal.

Critics might say that our risks are spread thinly however, I see this as an advantage on the back of all our resources channelled specifically to promoting the services and products of our principal – Maersk Line.

I would like to think that our presence in Fiji is widely known.  We were there to help kick off the exportation of apparel wear to the USA back in early 90’s,  partnered PAFCO to transport canned and frozen to their overseas markets,  Fiji Water to the USA and the rest of world, Fiji Mahogany to USA and Dominican Republic.

Has BC San Francisco’s name change and operations affected Shipping Services and how?

I would be lying if I answered no.  To a certain extent, yes.  If anything, our schedule integrity suffered somewhat.

However, like with all partnerships, teething problems are inevitable and I must stress that we have seen an improvement for the better.

What country model can the industry follow to be successful and why?

It has been widely advocated that Fiji has the potential to being the shipping hub of our region and I strongly believe that we can do just that.   If I was to pick a model, it would be perhaps Singapore’s model.

This is purely on the back on the similarity in geographical size. But Fiji’s bigger hence all the more reason to learn and find out Singapore’s success and mirror that here.

With that said,  and to achieve our goal as the Pacific hub, there needs to be infrastructural improvements as our existing 2 ports of entry is certainly not up to par.

We are always looking for promising and successful business stories to tell our readers. If you know someone who has something interesting to tell readers through SHIP TALK, do send an email to:

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