"Being able to service this region from Singapore plays out as a significant advantage for us. With the future growth potential of China in question, I believe Southeast Asia will be the beneficiary."

Aaron Montgomery

PRESIDENT AND CEO, OURAY

April 08, 2024

Could you explain OURAY’s core expertise?

OURAY is a chemical service provider with a legacy in emergency response, but we also do special projects, as well as scheduled projects. Around 98% of our customers are either chemical manufacturers like Dow, Solvay, and Chemours or ISO tank operators like Hoyer, ITT and Suttons, all typically multinationals with facilities or shipping in many different countries. Almost no matter where in the world our customer is, OURAY can organize a response – this is our specialty. For example, we just completed a small project at the port in Sri Lanka and are embarking on a large project in the Philippines. We have service capabilities in over 100 countries. Sometimes the intervention can be managed over the phone using local contractors or collaborating with local port authorities, while other times we may need to send our team on the ground to manage situations like a spill. 

What have been the main market developments over the past year?

In the first quarter of 2023, we were watching the beginning of a slowdown in raw material prices. This trend has carried on through the year, recovery seemingly “one quarter away” until that quarter has passed. However, the ISO market seems to be picking up, with more volumes moving. As the market recovers and budgets loosen, we should see an extended reach into Southeast Asia in terms of large- and small-scale projects in the region. We also noticed a shift in our transloading business where renewable fuels have provided revenue growth in the spot of specialty chemicals. With our diverse mix of services, OURAY has maintained steadly growing revenue. 

In your experience, what is something that is key when dealing with hazardous materials and risk situations?

OURAY is lucky - or unlucky, depending on how you look at it - to deal with a large variety of chemicals all the time. This guards us against complacency. If you deal with the same chemical every day you are more prone to complacency, but if you constantly need to learn about new chemistries, some not seen before and each with a different safety data sheet, you are always on guard to understand and mitigate the hazard. From the vapor pressure and boiling points to the protective equipment and everything required to conduct a repair on a damaged container, we stay alert about the risks and make sure people also understand these risks. We have many internal processes and procedures, which can get onerous, but they are necessary to keep everyone safe. Maintaining constant vigilance and adaptability, especially when facing diverse chemicals and novel hazards, is paramount for effectively managing hazardous materials and risk situations.

What markets present the most opportunities for growth?

We strongly believe in Southeast Asia. Countries like Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia are increasingly attracting investment in hard assets for chemical production and blending and this naturally drives the local ISO market too. Being able to service this region from Singapore plays out as a significant advantage for us. With the future growth potential of China in question, I believe Southeast Asia will be the beneficiary. Multibillion-dollar companies are finding in Southeast Asian countries a unique mix of low, medium and highly skilled workers in very close proximity. The region has a lot going for it, and as a regional bloc it has the potential to become a chemical powerhouse.

In the coming months, we are also looking to add new capabilities in Latin America, specifically in Brazil, where there is a gap for our type of service. 

Meanwhile, in our domestic United States market, we have seen a huge amount of growth in chemical transloading. The US is quite unique in its ability to transport large amounts of chemicals over large distances by rail. We are looking to add new locations for imports-exports. For importers into the US whose clients only accept rail cars, we can import the product at the port of New Orleans, and transfer it to railroad tank cars to Ohio or other states; vice-versa, exporting clients with a chemical plant in West Virginia or Missouri can rail to New Orleans, from where we can load the product into ISO tanks for the international markets.

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