Having joined the family business straight after graduating from university, Chandy Kusuma sought to bring FKS Group to modernity. “It was a very traditional company 11 years ago,” the now-CEO remembers. “But I convinced the family to professionalise and corporatise the Group. I look at management differently, so now more professionals are running the company instead of family members.”
FKS Group handles food, property and energy-related operations throughout Indonesia. It is involved in all stages of the supply chain, from sourcing and manufacturing to logistics and trading. Chandy started work at FKS in 2010, becoming head of its trading subsidiary, Enerfo, before being signed on as CEO of the whole Group in 2016.
The Group’s foremost division is food and agribusiness. Through its flagship company, FKS Multi Agro, it supplies a range of grains, seeds and beans. Further, FKS is considered one of the largest importers and distributors of soybeans in Indonesia. The Group’s Tene business produces refined sugar, while its Bungasari Flour Mills is operated through a joint venture with wheat flour company Malayan Flour Mills and Toyota Tsusho.
FKS Group’s energy division owns and operates coal assets, as well as oil and gas. This includes the Katingan Ria coal project in Central Kalimantan – a joint venture with Australia’s Realm Resources – and the Tapin Coal Terminal for coal transportation. It also has oil exploration and production company, Prakarsa Betung Meruo Senami Jambi, which produces around 1,000 barrels of oil a day.
FKS Land is the company’s property branch, which manages a portfolio of real estate developments in Indonesia. One of these is the Tallasa City township in Makassar. Described as the ‘Future city centre of Makassar and the East of Indonesia’, the 700-hectare township includes both residential and commercial areas, an international school, a university, a medical centre, shopping malls and car service facilities.
A blend of new and old
Under Chandy’s guidance, FKS Group has become what he describes as a blend of the original culture with the new one. “I preserved the old culture, which was quite strong,” he says. “The Group had a strength in maintaining relationships and engaging with employees. But of course, we have to also connect with future generations by putting more digital applications into our systems, applying creativity into the corporate aspect, and making it more fun.”
When you listen, you pick up a lot of things. You understand the culture and needs. You understand what new strategies management needs to set.
While these internal changes were happening, external shifts were shaping how the business operated. “Consumers expect a better quality of product and this means having to look at hygiene,” Chandy explains. “We are constantly improving. There are tons of programs to support hygiene issues, so we try to improve from every angle.”
The second major external shift was the attitude towards corporate social responsibility (CSR). “I think everyone is trying to make the world a better place,” Chandy continues. “So we’re trying our best to support a range of programs on education, health and the environment.”
The FKS Foundation handles the Group’s CSR activities and provides scholarships, disaster relief and charity donations.
Despite all these changes, the company ensured that it kept an eye on technological advances. “We look at technology carefully because we believe it is what brings us a lot of efficiencies,” Chandy says. “We’re heavily focused on research and design and we are applying automation to every department in the Group. In the sales department, we’re also implementing sales applications online.”
Since taking the helm at FKS, Chandy highlights the two main challenges facing the business. “The first is government policies that keep changing,” he says. “The way I look at it, we just have to adapt to the latest policies and solve issues with the government through communication. The second challenge is human resources. We need more employees and we need to develop them.”
A family tradition
FKS Group was founded by Chandy’s father in 1970 and Chandy takes pride in the wealth of knowledge gained over time. The company confidently understands Indonesia’s environment by operating with what Chandy calls a ‘helicopter view’.
“We look at proteins, carbohydrates, sweeteners and logistics. We look at many angles instead of just one,” he highlights. This birds-eye view approach is something Chandy adopted from his father, whom he has always looked up to. “I adore his passion and ambition for the business,” Chandy says proudly.
“He was a constant example to me from when I was very young. We take into account farmers from all around the world and consumers in many destinations. I love it. I like to meet people and see all the areas our company covers. It’s an exciting business.”
Chandy wants to maintain the supplier relationship standards set by his family. “We look at those relationships carefully,” he says. “We look at them long-term and try to support each other and grow together. That’s why we normally have long and continuous relationships in everything.”
However, Chandy still has his own ideas when it comes to leading the company and this begins with lending an ear. “I keep telling our team to always listen to everybody,” he says. “I love travelling to the market, or meeting farmers because I like to listen. And when you listen, you pick up
a lot of things. You understand the culture and needs. You understand what new strategies management needs to set.”
Over the past few years, Chandy has seen FKS Group continue to grow throughout South East Asia and harness more investors worldwide. While the company is heading in the right direction, Chandy sees a greater purpose for it in the long-term. “We believe success is defined through sustainability in
the environment rather than just a profitable corporate business,” he says. “Every program we do, we look at whether it is good for everybody here in the country.”