Seven decades of experience and expertise in the business, however, have certainly given Wah Kwong its share of industry advantage. As it celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, the Hong Kong-based shipping company is all set to steer strategically into the future, as smoothly and seamlessly as possible.
Anchored by a lasting legacy
Since 1952, Wah Kwong has robustly invested in, owned and operated maritime assets. The company has a rich legacy as a shipowner, which it melds with a forward-thinking approach to ship ownership and ship management. With the third generation of the founding family at the helm, the company continues to be built on trust, steered by innovation, and driven by passion.
Since 2020, Wah Kwong’s office in Qianhai, Shenzhen, has supported its asset management business, boosted efforts at recruiting seafarers, overseen shipbuilding activities in shipyards and proven vital to growth and operations amid the pandemic.
“Our Greater Bay Area office has really blossomed; we currently have over 60 people, looking to grow to 80 to 100 within the next two to three years,” said Hing Chao, executive chairman of the company. In addition, Chao notes that they have “been talking very closely with the Shenzhen government about aligning policies and creating better mechanisms of cooperation” to further propel growth in the sector.
Within the Greater Bay Area, Wah Kwong is committed to nurturing industry talent for the maritime economy while being good stewards of environmental soundness in the shipping sector. To jump-start these objectives, the company has partnered with Shenzhen Ocean University.
“We’ve always taken pride in being a good employer and giving opportunities to promote career advancement. Now, sustainability is coming into greater focus, as a core aspect of our operations. Our sustainability policies across ESG are now much more comprehensive,” he said, referring to environmental, social and governance goals.
Wah Kwong is likewise dedicated to establishing solid global connections, driven by its desire to expand throughout Asia and the West.
“Since the beginning of the company’s history, we’ve been about making connections. So, while we’re strengthening our presence in the Greater Bay Area, we’re also looking to increase our footprint beyond. In May, we opened a branch office in London to help us conduct business activities in Europe, and we are also looking to open an office in Singapore,” Chao noted.
The company credits much of this expansion to its early ties with Japan. To date, Wah Kwong maintains close ties with Japanese shipyards and trading houses, with prominent shipping companies and charterers, as well as with financial institutions.
“We’ve worked very closely with Japanese companies since the beginning. We’re very proud of this legacy; it’s something we want to maintain. I see continued collaboration with Japan in so many different ways: ship newbuilding, for sure; the renewable energy sector; shipping asset management; cooperation in pool activities; and ship finance among many others.”