Samling Group was awarded the prestigious “Most Diversified and Value-Adding Timber Manufacturer” award by the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) in conjunction with its 50th anniversary celebrations.

The award was presented by the Sarawak Premier The Right Honourable Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg at a glittering ceremony at the Borneo Convention Centre in Kuching on 14 August.

On hand to receive the award on behalf of Samling Group was its Chief Executive Officer Lawrence Chia.

The award was in recognition of Samling’s concerted efforts in diversifying its operations with greater emphasis on high value-added production primarily for the export market.

The STIDC said Samling’s efforts were in line with, and a major contribution to, the Sarawak state government’s aspirations to enhance the development of the timber industry and achieve a targeted total annual export earnings of RM8 billion by 2030.

Under its Post-Covid Development Strategy 2030, the state government is intensifying efforts to transform the timber industry into a high value-added and income sector by focusing on the production of wood panels, engineered wood, furniture and bamboo products.

Samling was recognised as the company which had ventured the most into diversification and value-adding measures, which contributed to its total export earnings of RM544 million in 2022. This included RM42 million in furniture exports – a whopping contribution of 75% to the state’s total furniture exports of RM57 million.

With its current workforce of 4,000 employees in the downstream sector alone, the company was also recognised for its social inclusivity and other corporate social responsibilities.

In receiving the award, CEO Lawrence Chia said the company was honoured and grateful for being recognised for its concerted efforts to support the timber industry in Sarawak as well as the socio-economic development of the state.

He said the award was testament to the company’s ambitious Timber 2.0 strategy which has seen the company steering towards increased value-added production using resources from planted forests.

Samling was recognised for the high utilisation of raw materials from plantations in its downstream production activities, which currently stands at 90%. Chia said the company was aiming to achieve 100% utilisation within two years.

“We have in place an ambitious plan towards carbon neutrality in the next couple of years and to achieve zero waste in our entire production processes,” said Chia, who noted that this zero waste policy was also cited by STIDC.

“Basically, not only do we utilise resources from our plantations in our downstream production of plywood, furniture, and kitchen cabinets, we even utilise residual wood from the plantations to produce wood pellets and to manufacture door skins, ensuring that nothing is wasted,” he said.

Chia added that Timber 2.0 would be carried out with ESG issues topmost of the agenda, as evidence by the company’s continuous improvement in its SPOTT assessment score, another area that was recognised by STIDC.

Samling were ranked first nationally for timber related companies and 13th globally in the 2022 annual Global SPOTT assessment.

(SPOTT assesses commodity producers, processors and traders on their public disclosure regarding their organisation, policies, and practices related to ESG issues.)

Chia thanked the STIDC and the State Government for the award, saying the win would spur the company to even greater heights.

“It is an indication that we are on the right path with our Timber 2.0 plan of creating manufacturing facilities and using plantation forests,” he said, adding that there were still many areas Samling was looking to improve in and diversify into.