The King of the LPG Hill

Once a rising star in the industry, PCI Gas is now one of the largest Liquified Petroleum Gas businesses in the Klang Valley. Here's how Volvo Trucks helped them find the way to the top.

The logistics industry is ever-evolving and it takes more than grit to keep up. Yet, in just a few years, PCI Gas Trading has not just kept with the competition but also surged ahead. As such, they are now one of the largest distributors of Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) tanks in Malaysia. The company’s founder and owner, Kadir Kathivaran reveals a little more about his business and how he brought it to where it is today.

In The Beginning 
Kadir recalls getting into the industry as a truck driver, starting at the very bottom by delivering LPG tanks to smaller businesses. As he got to know the trade better, he recognised the potential to expand. In 2007, he took the plunge and formed PCI Gas Trading in Bukit Kemuning. Right from the start, he was sure about one thing: the company had to be the absolute best in the country. Convinced that second place would simply not do, he set his plan in motion by finding new clients, and expanding his team to cover every aspect of the business.

“From the moment I started PCI Gas, I had one goal for the company – to be the number one supplier of LPG canisters in the region, nothing less would suffice.” Today, PCI Gas has been at the top of the pile for more than six years, moving 70% of all LPG canisters in the Shah Alam area. The company impressively moves more than seven thousand gas canisters, around the Klang Valley. The bulk of this is for Petronas, but PCI Gas does offer their storage and logistics services to other brands as well.

Of course, being in the logistics business, trucks were one of the primary concerns. After five years of operations, the company began to rapidly expand. In 2012, a client had commissioned a rather large job involving moving large volumes of LPG tanks from the Petronas Depot in Melaka to Selangor. The job had strict requirements and they needed a new trailer with an Anti-lock Braking System and Traction Control. That’s when the company hit a major stumbling block; their usual truck supplier wouldn’t be able to deliver trucks of that specification quickly enough.

Fortunately, at around this time, Volvo Trucks were ready to deliver exactly what Kadir needed to keep his business growing according to plan. “Of course, being a flammable substance, safety in this business is of utmost importance,” explained Kadir. “This is why we’re really happy with Volvo Trucks, particularly with the FH, which has been a pivotal part of our long distance trips.”

How the FH Changed his Business

An essential part of the Petronas LPG business is long hauls from the LPG terminals in Melaka and Seberang Prai. These two hubs are hundreds of kilometres from the Klang Valley, so every drop of fuel matters. Volvo’s supersized and efficient FH trucks allow PCI Gas to make the most of every trip.

““We have many smaller trucks, but it is prime movers like the FH that are the real game-changers. Ours regularly travel 750 kilometres daily, essentially moving 19% more gas canisters per trip compared to some of our previous trucks. What's more, maintenance and fuel costs have gone down by about 7% per month, which is why we've put in an order for more of these trucks,” said Kadir.

“We’ve had dealings with other companies before for lorries of all sizes. But Volvo Trucks really differentiated themselves beyond just their product offerings. There was a personal touch to their sales approach and after sales service. Of course, those are just subjective elements that made me more comfortable. What was really important was that their service agreement simply worked out better in the long term, especially for a logistics business like PCI Gas.”

Their dealings with Volvo Trucks began with the smaller FM440, 6x2RAS I-Shift. It left such a good impression that getting the larger FH once it became available was a no-brainer. Especially for a company as young and ambitious as PCI Gas, whose reputation depends heavily on safety, fuel efficiency and uptime.

Looking to the Future
Presently, Kadir is hopeful about the future of his industry, especially with the technology evolution, which is of vital importance. “They have apps like Gas2U, which makes it easier for businesses large and small to make orders in the Klang Valley. A lot of residences in the Klang Valley have switched to induction cooking, but most businesses and traditional cooks still rely on gas stoves.”

In terms of challenges, Kadir admitted that fuel subsidies are a concern as it remains a major way for many logistics companies to keep costs down. “Ultimately, it's up to the government to decide what they want to do with the subsidy programme. But the clearer their plans are, the easier it is for businesses to strategize, and that matters a lot too,” he added. “Whatever it is, we will adapt and continue to focus our intent to be a leader in the liquefied gas segment.

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