Succession planning by one of WA's wealthiest families will see Coogee Chemicals patriarch Gordon Martin step down as chairman next year in favour of son Tim.
The move will come as the company builds its presence in fuel distribution through a deal to set up an import terminal with a Japanese industrial giant.
Tim Martin has been running the $300 million business for the past two years as managing director. He will become executive chairman from July 1 next year, with Gordon Martin staying on the board as a non-executive director.
The board will appoint a professional chief executive from that date. "It will be someone from outside the family," Tim Martin said. "There's been a plan in place for some time. It's well known in the company."
Tim Martin has been an executive at Coogee for nine years.
He previously held management positions in packaged food manufacturing.
Founded in 1971, the chemical producer and fuel terminal operator has about 400 employees and is one of the State's biggest private companies.
The Martin family's wealth was estimated in _WestBusiness _' WA Rich List 2013 at $450 million.
Gordon Martin's daughter, lawyer Jennifer Roughan, is a non-executive director.
Employing a professional chief executive will not be the first time the company has looked beyond the family.
Phil Thick, now managing director at New Standard Energy, ran Coogee for four years.
The company is moving to take advantage of a sea change in Australia's fuel industry as oil companies move out of downstream refining and distribution.
Coogee is taking a 10 per cent stake in and will operate a $100 million diesel import terminal being established by Mitsubishi Corporation in South Australia.
Mitsubishi said the Port Bonython terminal would be the foundation of an import, sales and distribution business in Australia.
Tim Martin said the interest among global trading companies in terminal storage was creating opportunities for independent operators.
"We see an expansion continuing in terminal services to meet the market needs," he said. "These guys use much bigger ships and hence they need a lot more storage allocation to make their business model work.
"They need local expertise, they need operators to run these things for them and there's significant growth there for us building on a core capability."
The Coogee managing director said "amazing multiples" were being paid for terminal assets.
"It's a hot market at the moment," he said.
Coogee runs two Queensland fuel terminals in Gladstone and Townsville in partnership with Japanese and Korean multinationals. It operates WA's biggest terminal in Kwinana and a facility in Port Hedland. The com- pany has invested about $60 million in the terminals business in the past three years.
Coogee is also investing more than $40 million to double the capacity of a chemical facility in Brisbane.