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Win-Win-Win Philosophy Takes HeveaPac to Another Level
Published 5th September 2019
It takes more than quality products for HeveaPac to be the largest laminated particleboard shelving Ready-to-Assemble (RTA) furniture producer in Asia.
Executive Director of HeveaPac, Mr. Peh Ju Chai, knows something about that. He co-founded the company in August 2000, growing it from the ground up – from an initial 30 workers to nearly 2,000 employees today. From a humble background to success, Mr. Peh’s forward-thinking mindset helped his company become one of the largest furniture manufacturers in Malaysia, and part of a publicly listed company.
Part of this success lies in selecting the best materials. Although some manufacturers use natural materials such as rubberwood, Mr. Peh firmly believed that the functional and durable MDF (medium-density fibreboard) and particle boards have a large market – and he was right.
From rattan to fibreboards
Trained as an accountant, Mr. Peh entered the furniture industry via a Chinese company that manufactured rattan furniture.
“I felt that rattan furniture was difficult to go ‘big’ because of the raw material. It was labour intensive and we had to train workers to manufacture and produce it. To make a sofa set for example, could take at least three years. And raw material such as that was getting scarce at that time,” said Mr. Peh, a long-time exhibitor at the Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF).
“In order to grow ‘big’ we needed to use materials that were readily available − such as engineered wood,” he said. So, he convinced the company to switch from rattan furniture to other materials like plywood and particleboard.
“They are affordable and functional, and the market is big whether domestically or worldwide. After the conversion in the previous company I managed, within five years that company became one of the largest manufacturers in that category of furniture in Malaysia,” said Mr. Peh.
The ‘power of six’
When asked about his vision for the company, Mr. Peh says six principles are paramount: transparency, loyalty, sharing common goals, taking care of stakeholders, the workforce and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
“By following these six principles, I believe a company can grow as big as it wants to,” he emphasised.
“Many manufacturers have neglected the supplier side. They only talk about customers and themselves. To me, the supplier is as equally important as the customer,”
He added that many people talk about the `win-win situation’ for manufacturers and customers. But to Mr. Peh, this is not complete: It should be ‘win-win-win’.
“Many manufacturers have neglected the supplier side. They only talk about customers and themselves. To me, the supplier is as equally important as the customer,” he explained.
‘Just in Need’ delivery principle
Another important principle concerns delivery. “We must deliver on time and be flexible,” said.
“In fact, I’m working towards ‘Just in Need’ rather than ‘Just in Time’ – which sets the time when you must deliver. But if a wrong colour is placed and there is a need to change, it shouldn’t be a problem – which is why I want to work on `Just in Need’ – meaning to be more flexible when it comes to delivery,” he explained.
He says the bottom line is that what they produce must be very competitive, with stable pricing. This is especially important when dealing with mass-market products.
Moving forward and upwards
Now that the company is approaching its 20th year, Mr. Peh says it’s time to let their customers know where HeveaPac is heading.
He is a boss who works hard for his returns. “From day one, I’ve come to office every day. I personally meet my customers, I talk to them and understand their needs. I spend more than 90 percent of the weekends working,” he said.
From his low-pay auditing days, to joining a wood-based business in 1987 with a saw-milling Japanese firm, Mr. Peh has been in the timber exporting business, taking up the role of international trade in both consultant and financial fields.
He admitted that the experience he gained in the Japanese firm was invaluable.
“Once the Japanese feel you are capable or flexible, they ask you to do everything. I worked directly under the chairman of the company. I wasn’t only doing work restricted to finance . . . I covered everything,” recalled Mr. Peh.
He helped set up many factories from scratch, working as a consultant, until the time that the factories could stand on their own.
One HeveaPac in every home
Mr. Peh said that when it comes to products, one must be a specialist.
“The entry-level is so low today. And even though many furniture companies are not sustainable, I still see the potential is great in this type of furniture. The demand is still growing because our furniture is functional, basic, affordable and required in every home,” he added.
“I hope that one day every household has at least one piece of HeveaPac furniture. If I can achieve that, the potential is infinite,” said Mr. Peh.
He admitted that the company went through many challenges in the past. For instance, there was no growth at all during the 2005-2006 period and he had to cancel a USD6 million business deal in the United States.
“That was not the only time that we had to cancel a deal, and sometimes it was due to internal problems,” he said. “Today, challenges persist. The global furniture industry, the brick and mortar stores, are affected by e-commerce.”
Mr. Peh has been putting the company back on the right track in the last few years. Last year he invested more than RM60 million acquiring new facilities and buildings to support the new line of products, which provides more variety to customers.
Venturing into a Range of Kitchen Furniture
Melamine can stand the test of time. It is more resistant and durable, though at a higher price. It is usually utilised for kitchen cabinets and office furniture but would be good for the kitchen furniture as well. In the last 15 years, HeveaPac has been using this material in their range of kitchen products, but only in the carcass (inside part of cabinets).
Now they have newly ventured into using PET high gloss, melamine, natural wood, and UV paint spray panel surface finishing on their kitchen furniture. It’s about time Malaysians consider quality in their kitchen furniture buying decisions.
For more information about HeveaPac, visit their website at www.heveapac.com.my
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