The Pership Group of Companies, which has transformed itself into a major Sri Lankan Conglomerate with bigger global footprints is one of the pioneering Sri Lankan companies in the shipping industry with a long history that could be traced back to its humble beginning in 1889, when Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was called back then) was under British rule. Today Pership’s core business is Transportation (Ground, Sea and Air) spanning International & National destinations and Contract Logistics with business interests diversified into ICT, Leisure, Property Development and FMCG. Headquartered in Colombo, Sri Lanka, the Group has more than 500 Associates operating out of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Maldives and the USA. The group’s networking capacity has helped them in providing end-to-end solutions to customers world-wide. The Pership Group has won many awards and international and local recognitions for its business excellence and are the General Sales Agents for Turkish Airlines, Polish Airlines, China Airlines Cargo, Delta Airlines Cargo, Yang Ming Lines, APL and Maersk.
The Pership Group incidentally is Sri Lanka’s 1st IATA qualified GSSA (General Sales and Service Agent). At Pership’s Airline Division, they work towards limitless solutions while adopting a policy of thinking “out of the box”. This has enabled them to continue to provide their airline partners new and limitless solutions to better manage their business activities with the Group. In this way, a true bottom line improvement is achieved in their partnerships. This Group successfully manages a portfolio of 10 leading international air carriers in the territories of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the Maldives. Sea Transportation solutions are addressed by strategic business units of the Pership Group servicing world renowned global brand names in shipping. The established relationships go back several decades and are built on solid foundations of trust and mutual respect and an abiding interest in deepening and strengthening the ties. This sector provides all of the conventional services expected of in the arena of agency representation for all manner of ships and floating craft, with particular emphasis on Sales and Marketing, Container / Conventional Operations, Husbanding and Logistics, Finance & Accounting, Documentation and ICT.
Pership Group has won many awards and international & local recognitions for its business excellence & are the General Sales Agents for Turkish Airlines, Polish Airlines, China Airlines Cargo, Delta Airlines Cargo, Yang Ming Lines, APL & Maersk.
The sector handles in excess of 175,000 TEUs and 500 shipping opportunities annually and is active in all major global export markets. Specialist cargo such as crude oil, refined petroleum products, bagged and bulk cargo, in addition to containerized cargo which form a major part of imports into Sri Lanka, are serviced by the Sector. The six-acre premises has a well maintained macadamized container park for storing 5000 TEUs. In addition, there is over 500,000 sq. ft. of warehousing and CFS with a fully equipped workshop for carrying IICL4 standard repairs to damaged containers. The new automated terminal management system provides online, real time container tracking & repairs reporting which meets the individual needs of all shipping lines and container storage in the yard.
The Success of the Pership Group lies in generations of the Pereira family. Old Josephian Manik Pereira is presently the Chairman of Pership/Asha Group of Companies. Manik Pereira comes with an illustrious career and family background. His grandfather Chevalier I.X.Pereira was Chairman of F.X.Pereira & Sons & Narrotam & Pereira who were the predecessors to the Pership Group. He was an Old Benedictine and at one time was acting Minister of Labour, Trade & Commerce in the D.S.Senanayake Government. Manik’s father F.X.A. Pereira who took over the Company was an Old Josephian and he was the 3rd President of the Old Joes Sports Club. Manik who was born in 1942, followed his father’s steps and had his education at St. Joseph’s College between 1950 -1961 and represented College in Cricket & Rugger. He continued his rugby at CR & FC representing Red Jerseys and then went onto become the President of the Longden Place Club in 1985. He was appointed Honorary Consul for Ireland in Sri Lanka in 2002. Manik also become a Vice President of the College OBU and also President of the Old Joes Sports Club apart from associating with many other committees of the College. However Manik’s son Niranjan Pereira studied at St. Peter’s College and represented St. Peter’s in Cricket and Rugger. He too played rugger at 1st XV level and now based in New York Niranjan is heading Trinity Logistics, his own Company, with branches in Sri Lanka and India. Manik married Louise Abeynaike in 1967 and apart from a son he also has two daughters Lilamanee Pereira who studied at Holy Family Convent Bambalapitiya and Nirmalee Pereira who studied at Asian International Colombo. Nirmalee is now a Group Director at Pership Group. We met up Manik Pereira and wanted to find out more about his life’s journey and his success in the corporate world that paved the way to the growth of Pership Group. He began sharing his story whilst reminiscing his glory days at Darley Road. “I began my education at the 2nd Standard (which was what the class was called back then) with my first teacher being Mrs. Silva. In the 3rd Standard it was Ms. Livera and at 4th Standards it was Ms. Morera, while in the 5th Standards it was Mr. Martin Dekauwe.
Mr. Martin Dekauwe was instrumental in forming the first Under 12 Cricket team at St. Joseph’s and I was part of the initial 19 member squad but failed to make a cut in the final 11. So in our first match, which was against St. Peter’s, I was the scorer. Thereafter I played Under 15, Under 16 and 2nd XI. I also played one match in 1st XI under Raja De Silva, a third term game against NCC before I left College after O/L’s. However, in between, I played for College Rugger teams. Under the captaincy of Brian Paul, I played in College 1st XV where we had a very good side. Some of the outstanding players I can recall were Kutbert Charles, David G & Willham De Silva who later played for Havelocks and Hiranjan Perera who played for CR & FC. We narrowly lost to Trinity but we never lost another match for the rest of that season. About 8 Josephians went on to represent Combined Colombo Schools in the annual Capper Cup against Outstation Schools in that year (1961). Some of my friends from College days are Dick Arendtz who played as the standoff with me at College who now resides in Australia, the late Billy Rowland and late Bernard Fonseka both were Planters, Vineetha Boteju and Ken Harmer now live in England. We had some wonderful time at College”. Talking about his memories Manik recollects “Once while we were playing Cricket at Beira Grounds during the interval with friends, the ball went into the neighbouring land where the Elder’s Home is located. We found space through the fence to squeeze in and went to fetch the ball. In the process, we ploughed some Bananas and Guavas planted in that garden. Unfortunately, we all got caught to the gardener and he took us to Mother Superior (who was in charge of the home). She brought us back to College and straightaway took us to Rector, Rev. Fr. Peter Pillai’s room. He was very kind to us and said ‘Boys will be Boys’ and asked us to return whatever we brought with us to the Home and gave us advice but no punishments were meted out. If I recall some excellent staff members M.I. Kuruwila our English Teacher, Fr. Joe Nethhasinghe, Noel Croose, Dalls De Zoysa, Fr. Justine Perera, George Paivy, Erric Mendis, Thurairathnam come to mind with a sense of great gratitude”. As per Manik, he learnt more from outside the classroom on the playing fields at College, especially the lessons about life,. One such experience was on punctuality when he was dropped from the very first 1st XI encounter which was to be against CCC when skipper Raja De Silva left out Manik when he was late by 15 minutes for the reporting time for the game. From that day onwards, Manik ensures he is punctual. “Straight after school I was invited to play for CR & FC where I played as a scrum half. Then in 1964, I got a job in the Agency House of George Steuarts & Company as a Tea Planter and I went on to play rugger for Dickoya during that period. I really enjoyed the company of some great rugby players at Dickoya. Such as David Pregarten, Chris Dean, John Bousfield. Tyrrel Muttaiha played as scrum half, Rajive De Silva played as Standoff I was the first inside, 2nd inside was Ralph Wickremaratne and Lionel Almeida played as full back”.
Talking about the building of Pership Group to be one of the pioneering Group of Companies in Sri Lanka today, Manik spoke of his early days when he joined his father, and later taking over as the 4th generation head of the Company. “My great grandfather in 1889 had a small shop as F.X.Pereira & Sons and they were the agents for Scindias Steamship Navigation Company of India. He entered into a partnership with the founder of Scindias Mr. Narrotam Monarjee and that paved the way for our great success. I set up a Container terminal in Kelaniya with a small capital 15 years ago which is now valued at more than rupees two billion. Then I signed up the agency of Yang Ming Lines of Taiwan (Chinese Taipei), the national shipping line of Taiwan and also signed up with Shipping Corporation of India. These are two big shipping lines and we have been really lucky to have them on board. I was not devoid of ambitions. I took opportunities whenever they presented themselves. Never hesitated in taking decisions, was optimistic for the future. With the grace of God we have been successful. Now my daughter, Nirmalee who is the 5th generation of the family in the business, will continue this journey and as said before, only with God’s grace these things are possible”.
In running a business, the ideology shared by Manik which in fact helped him and his family and the Management was ‘Do not be afraid to take decisions and risks. Do not vacillate. Take opportunities, value Honesty, Integrity and Discipline which are three important values that one needs to hold on to and never compromise in life. This will make one a great leader and be an example to those who work for him. They will value it and you will be a source of inspiration to them and they will give their best in return’.
Talking of future generations with the 5th generation of the Pereira family now running the business affairs, Manik had this to share. ‘I do not have any hesitation or fear of the young generation or generations to come. I believe they will not be afraid to take decisions and they will take decisions for the future based on what they have been accustomed to and the values they have been brought up on. If they have a solid foundation and have seen and experienced how their parents or superiors (in Companies) take decisions and act, that gives them a firm footing. It also gives them enough confidence to face the world and to take decisions on their own. The world today is easily accessible with technological advancements that will give them great benefits. They can conquer the world. Likewise, I never thought Pership Group will expand to its present extent of a Global Company when I joined Asha/Pership Group in 1973 after retiring from planting. Through my experience and with my faith and belief I have come this far. It’s up to the next generation to steer this Group further”.
Manik placed significant importance on Family and spiritual life. ‘When someone moves out of School or University they have to take some important decisions, especially when moving into adult life by late the 20’s as one needs to settle down on career, look for a life partner and manage finances. Mostly we will rely on the gift of prayer, for one to make the right decision. One should not be afraid to make decisions and you need to have faith in God and self. As I said before, everything happens with the grace of God. We need to accept it. I’m now married for 48 years I’m still in love with my wife. She has presented me with three smart children and we have built a good foundation for them to build their lives. We are proud of their success. Also in return, the children have given us five beautiful grandchildren. I am confident our future generations will prosper and they will take this Company to achieve greater heights. Not only our children, but the youth of this country can do wonders. With the experience and learning and with the right directions, our young ones will make us proud’.