“This company is like my baby. I spent more than 20 years to grow it.”
PT Acset Indonusa is a construction company that offers services for buildings, structures, civil, electrical and communication, and specialized construction for foundation and pillar. As the government is now spending heavily on infrastructure, Acset has been doing well. In the first half of the year, PT Acset Indonusa managed to receive new contracts valued at Rp 7.1 trillion, which is already more than double the original target for the entire year of Rp 3.5 trillion.
Almost all the new work is for infrastructure. A contract signed in February, the 38.6-kilometer Jakarta-Cikampek II elevated toll project, is valued at Rp 13.5 trillion, as a joint venture between Acset (49%) and PT Waskita Karya (51%). Besides that, Acset also recently won three more contracts: the Kunciran-Serpong toll road project, the Terbanggi Besar Kayu Agung toll road, and a soil improvement project for a Central Java power plant. “The government is driving infrastructure development, and it benefits us as a construction company,” says the founder and Vice President Director Tan Tiam Seng Ronnie, 59.
Established in 1995 by Ronnie and his partner Hilarius Arwandhi, the company’s name is an abbreviation of Advanced Civil Structure Engineering Technology (Acset). With three decades of experience, Ronnie started his career working for several international construction companies, including High Ground in Kuala Lumpur and the L&M Group in Singapore. After nearly a decade gathering experience, Ronnie set up Acset in 1996, with less than Rp 1 billion capital. Although the company grew nicely for three years, in 1998, the Asian financial crisis hit Indonesia.
Acset struggled to survive, as it had taken out foreign currency loans. “Never in my life have I faced such a difficult time. I had to sell my condos in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta, and fire my employees. One day, I went to the office with my Volvo 940. But then a supplier came and asked me to pay my loan—so he took the car and I went home in an Isuzu Panther,” says Ronnie. But this period, he says, taught him perseverance. “There are many smart and capable people, but without perseverance, you cannot survive as a business person. From the start, I believed in Indonesia’s potential, and after the crisis, I still believe in it,” he says.
As the economy started to improve in 2000, and with many rivals bankrupt, Acset was one of the few surviving construction companies, and began winning contracts. In 2006, the company got the project to build a major development, Pacific Place, which still stands as one of its signature projects (and which was completed in only 18 months). In 2010, it built another huge top-end mall in Jakarta, Kota Kasablanka.
Three years later, the company listed its shares and two years later Astra International acquired a majority 50.1% of the shares. Ronnie continues to hold 12% and Arwandi about 7% (their combined stake is worth about Rp 407 billion).