Leading crop protection company Kenso, which has a strong market presence in Australia, is celebrating a milestone 40 years in business.
Kenso Agcare was established in Australia in 2001 during a major expansion phase by the Malaysian-based parent Kenso Corporation.
Kenso had humble beginnings in 1974 when a young and entrepreneurial chemical engineer Kenneth Soh left Singapore and headed for Kuala Lumpur.
His capital was a borrowed $20,after paying $13 for a train ticket; he had just $7 to start a new life.
Kenneth saw the opportunity in off-patent agchemicals and used his skills to start a totally new business formulating small volumes of products for the local market in Malaysia. He used his 1974 VW Beatle, which is still around today, to drive around and service and build relationships with a growing customer base.
Move forward 40 years and Kenso Corporation today is a diverse agriculturally focused business. The core business in agrichemicals has been joined by investments in plantations, fertilisers, food processing and property development.
It was around 20 years ago with the Kenso brand well established in its home market the business now joined by Kenneth’s three sons, embarked on a strategy to become a significant player in the agchemical and general agribusiness market in the Asia pacific.
The catalyst was the opening of a new state-of-the-art ISO 2001 accredited formulation facility at the major Malaysian shipping port of Port Klang just out side KL.
The factory runs a PLC based QC and QA system and has significant capacity to produce various formulations of Glyphosates, Paraquat and Phenoxy herbicides. Further expansion into insecticide and SC formulations has occurred over the years.
The launch of Kenso Agcare in Australia coincided with the establishment of Kenso Indonesia and Thailand. A major chemical factory acquisition in China in 2007 was followed by a move into New Zealand and Myanmar in 2012, completing the strategy to be a true regional player.
At the same time Kenso Corporation was busy expanding its plantations business and also expanded its food processing business with the commissioning of a purpose built production facility in Malaysia to service local and international markets for specialist sauces.
Longevity and strong brand and quality integrity have been part of the Kenso success story. Its relationships and value add for customers have also been critical factors.
General manager of Kenso Agcare Australia Rob Armstrong has been with the Australian operation from day one.
“Myself and operations manager Murray Goodlich met the Kenso management team back in 2001 and agreed to embark on an adventure to get Kenso off the ground in Australia.
“Ex work mates joined us including Steve Hines who is currently our key account manager and John Mason who runs our Western Australia region.
“Since then the team has grown to an Australia-wide field force, with technical support and quality control under Russell Clark and a committed customer service team.
“It has been an exciting ride and it is still exciting to see so much potential for Kenso in Australia and now New Zealand,” Rob said.
“The differentiated products we offer our customers, the exciting product developments and the competitive nature of the business keeps the motivation high.
“One of the best things about Kenso though is the culture. We are accountable and work hard, but at the same time we have fun and all feel a strong sense of achievement.
“The greatest asset we have is our customer base. We are adding value for them and at the same time provide a reliable and quality source of supply at competitive prices.”
Looking ahead to the next 40 years, Rob said Kenso was very focused on product development and differentiating the agchem offer.
“Our business model is sound and the Corporation’s diversity ensures we can get through the tough times. Our strength in manufacturing and our sourcing relationships are also key factors of success,” Rob said.