Pipe Dreamer

Kris Wiluan has built the Citramas group into a local champion in Batam.

Kris Taenar Wiluan, 68, has built the Citramas group into a diversified conglomerate with about 36 businesses, ranging across oil and gas services, shipping, logistics, ports and ferry services, tourism and media. Early on he pioneered Batam as his base of operations, when the island was still underdeveloped and had a population of only 6,000, thus creating a local champion just a short ferry ride from Singapore.

Kris didn’t start as an entrepreneur. He trained as a computer programmer in UK after he earning his BA in Mathematics and Computer Science at London University in 1971. Yet his father Henk Wiluan had been an entrepreneur, with businesses in auto parts, engine lubricants, chemicals and spices, starting from the 1950s. Kris made a fateful decision in the 1977. “I had option either to be an executive or an entrepreneur, and I chose to be an entrepreneur. I think I have the soul of an entrepreneur,” says Kris.

His first business was simple enough: storage for the heavy equipment used by the oil and gas industry. After graduating, he worked for Malaysian firm United Motor Works, which was storing this equipment in expensive Singapore, even though much of it was being used in Indonesia. Kris decided to open a storage business on Batam, which was a cheaper alternative yet still close to Singapore.

He successfully pitched his idea to Pertamina, and then built a logistics base in Batam to store the equipment. After a while, the company spread its wings to pipe threading and related activities. He started to diversify into other businesses. He set up holding company PT Citra Agramasinti Nusantara, also known as the Citramas group, to manage all this new ventures.

One of his big successes was with PT Citra Tubindo, which became Indonesia’s largest exporter of tubular products for the oil and gas industry. Established in 1983 and listed in 1989, Citra Tubindo supplies its products to many oil and gas giants, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, British Petroleum and Petronas. The company exports about 65% of its output. Today, Citra Tubindo has a market cap of about Rp 4 trillion.

Another big success was PT Citra Tubindo Engineering, which is formed in 2007, focuses on fabricating drilling rigs, fixed platforms, modules, and floating production storage and offloading vessels. Some of its notable projects are drilling rigs for the Cepu refinery and building jack-up rigs with Singaporean shipyards Keppel and Sembawang. The later project is valued at $225 million per rig.

Published on Forbes Indonesia Local Champion issue (06/17). Read full version of the article here.