SK Lubricants discuss their European base
SK Lubricants is the world’s largest manufacturer and supplier of high-quality Group III base oils, renowned for its YUBASE products. Managing Director Jay Kim explains why the company chose Amsterdam.
The international growth of Korea's SK Lubricants
A major component of motor oils, YUBASE has a wide range of automotive and industrial applications. SK Lubricants, which is based in Seoul and has been in operation for almost 50 years, has a history of innovation and growth. It built South Korea’s first oil refinery in the 1950s, expanding its facilities in the 1970s. By the 1990s, it was one of Korea’s largest providers of energy and chemical products. With a solid customer base at home, the company began expanding internationally in 1994, focusing first on North America and followed a decade later by Europe.
Establishing a European base
SK Lubricants' European headquarters opened in the Amsterdam Area in June 2008. “We had had a storage facility in Rotterdam and distributed our products from there since 1993. It’s an excellent logistics hub, but as our European business grew we needed to establish an office,” explains Jay Kim, Managing Director, SK Lubricants Europe. A number of locations were considered, including London and Hamburg, but Amsterdam kept topping the list. “Most of our business is in Germany, France and the Benelux, all of which are easily accessible from Amsterdam. In addition, the proximity of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and the fast public transport links make it easy for our customers to reach us.”
An abundance of talent in the Amsterdam Area
The ability to find staff for the new office was another deciding factor. “Most of our colleagues speak multiple languages. That’s very common in the Netherlands, so sourcing the talent we need is straightforward. These language skills also make Amsterdam an attractive place to live. Everyone speaks English – from the office to the supermarket – so there’s no need to learn Dutch.” Although Kim has since taught himself what he modestly calls “survival Dutch”, he says the lack of a communication barrier helped both him and his family to settle in quickly.
He also cites the ongoing assistance from amsterdam inbusiness. “Having been here for years, SK Lubricants is well established in Amsterdam, but we still have regular contact with amsterdam inbusiness. We can ask them any questions, from how to arrange an identity card to finding an office, and there is always immediate support. That’s quite different from other countries. In fact, when we were looking to move to larger premises a few years ago, we struggled to find anything suitable. We approached amsterdam inbusiness and within a week they had found us this location. That’s kind of magic.”