Martin Chew brings 30 years of experience – and a bold vision – to his new role as Jotun’s Group Executive Vice President for Performance Coatings.
With extensive experience within the Marine, Protective and Powder Coatings segments, Martin Chew is uniquely qualified to for his new role as Jotun’s Group Executive Vice President for Performance Coatings. “It’s a great honour and a big responsibility,” he says. “But we have a strong organisation so I know I can rely on my colleagues here in Sandefjord – and all over the world – to help us reach our potential.”
When asked to summarise his ambitions for Jotun Performance Coatings, he uses two words: Profitable growth. “Overall, we have to act locally, be more responsive and accelerate our product innovation,” he says. “Jotun’s core mission is to provide end users products that protect property. But we also want our customers to look at us not just as suppliers, but as partners who can help them achieve their business objectives.”
Chew takes on his new responsibilities at a time of rapid change. “While we are pleased with our results in the marine coatings segment for 2019, uncertainties in the newbuilding market over the next few years may require we make some adjustments,” he says. “One exciting area where we have found success is utilising more customer support solutions and developing specialised products to help our customers be more efficient and save money.”
While Jotun remains the world’s leading provider of marine coatings, Chew notes that the shipping industry is cyclical, subject to market forces beyond Jotun’s control. “Where we see opportunities for more predictable and consistent growth is within the Protective Coatings segment, which covers a broader range of industries,” he says. “Looking ahead, we will leverage our expertise in Passive Fire Protection to grow sales in the hydrocarbon processing industry and infrastructure concepts and work to align our product portfolio to meet growing demand for more environmentally sustainable constructions.”
Chew says that unlike marine coatings, the protective coatings market is both global and local. “There are many opportunities to develop our business locally, especially in emerging markets,” he says. “By making better use of our regional set-up and empowering local sales personnel to make decisions closer to the markets they serve, we can generate higher volumes. At the same time, Jotun’s global presence also allows the company to pursue larger projects that involve multinational stakeholders, which we manage through our International Specification Management team.”
In the Powder Coatings segment, Chew sees growth opportunities by working more closely with customers to understand their operational needs and adding value to their final products. “We can build on Jotun’s strong brand for product quality by being more responsive and quicker to act on customer demand,” he says. “In this way, we can differentiate Jotun from our competitors.”
Fast track career
Chew’s long and varied career has given him some keen insights on what works – and what doesn’t – in different markets. He began his career with Jotun as a Coatings Advisor in Singapore in 1989. After working in sales, he took on a number of strategic positions, including General Manager of Vietnam, Divisional Vice President Protective (Norway), Group Executive Vice President Powder Coatings (Dubai) and more recently, Regional Vice President SEAP (Malaysia), where he oversaw new factory constructions in Myanmar, the Philippines and plans to open a new factory in Vietnam.
Now responsible for more than half of Jotun’s total volume, Chew has little time to reflect on his remarkable career. But when asked why he stayed with Jotun for so long, he says it was a combination of exciting job opportunities and how the organisation lives by its values. “Factory capacity and product innovations have helped Jotun become the fastest growing paints and coatings company in the world,” he says. “But what sets Jotun apart from many other companies is the people!”