Unless you work in engineering or construction, it’s unlikely that you know much about hot-dip galvanising, yet it’s one of the most commonly used techniques for keeping popular metal safe from the elements. Through the hot-dip galvanisation process, steel and iron parts are submerged in a bath of molten zinc, which dries to form a protective alloy coating that lasts for decades.
From street lamps and fences to the great beams and pylons holding up our bridges and power lines, even the metals which make up the facades of buildings, galvanising is the reason these materials can remain exposed to the elements without risk of rusting or corrosion.
“You see it every day but you don’t notice it. In Singapore, almost every 50 metres you’ll come across something that is galvanised,” says industry specialist Albert Ang, who co-founded AGV Group with his brother James – one of only 5 hot-dip galvanising firms in Singapore.
Hot-dip in high demand
Despite its obscurity, hot-dip galvanising is hardly a new concept, being prevalent in Singapore for a long time: the earliest known example of the process dates back to the seventeenth century. Today, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of steel products are galvanised annually worldwide.
The demand for galvanising metals in Singapore is strong, considering the high demand for steel, which has increased year on year due to a burgeoning construction sector in the region, accounting for 80% of all steel consumption.
Both Albert and James have 20-plus years of experience in establishing and running hot-dip galvanisation plants together with their father – first James in 1989, who worked his way from being an apprentice into management, and then Albert in 1998 after he left the army.
Albert grew through the ranks to become a shareholder and group general manager and helped to expand the business into Dubai in 2003. In 2006, father and both sons sold their shares, and Albert and James decided to found Fastcoat Industries, a Singapore-registered firm that operated a hot-dip galvanising plant in Batam, Indonesia.
After 4 years, the brothers thought it was time to bring operations back to Singapore, so in 2010 they established Asia Galvanizing (S) Pte Ltd, equipped with Albert as managing director and CEO, and James as deputy managing director and COO. Asia Galvanizing (S) Pte Ltd officially began operations in 2012 after taking 2 years to build the new site and acquire all the equipment and chemicals needed.
“Since then, my main aim has been to grow the company as fast as possible,” says Albert. Since 2013, the company has seen revenue growth from S$15.3 million to S$18.8 million in 2015, while net profit rose from S$1.4 million to S$2.2 million in the same period.
AGV Group Ltd was then formed last year when the company launched its IPO to list on the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) Catalist Board. “Because we have been in this market for many years, our customer base is strong. More than that, though, it’s important to have a good reputation to gain the trust of the people and maintain a good relationship with them,” says Albert.
Looking ahead, Albert says he spies growth opportunities across major infrastructure projects, as well as looking to open more plants in the region. “I’m always looking for the next milestone,” he says.