Driving Ambitions Further Afield
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Arron Rampling
For 45 years, APM Automotive Holdings Berhad has thrived as a components manufacturer striving to make a notable splash in the regional automotive pool, and is setting its sights further and further afield in order to extend this objective as widespread as possible.
With a consistent goal to be a competitive regional automotive components manufacturer in the midterm before becoming a global supplier in the long-term, the business has grown from humble beginnings to that end and the past decade especially has seen the Company establish ASEAN-wide manufacturing operations to realise this future ambition.
“A strong OEM presence in Malaysia, coupled with manufacturing facilities already firmly established in the region, has helped APM’s efforts in the local replacement as well as export markets,” the Company states. “We are committed to providing our customers with products of the highest quality.”
As a listed Group split into suspension, interior and plastics, heat exchange and electrical, marketing, and engineering divisions; the diversification that has occurred over the years is an indictment of the small flexible ethos embraced initially, and the emphatic aims laid out further down the line. And with Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, the USA, Australia and the Netherlands all catered for from its Malaysian hub, APM continues to defy challenges and roll with the industry punches to find significant sector differentiators and to keep evolving.
“As an automotive component manufacturer, APM spent many years developing its competencies before expanding into the global market,” General Manager of Overseas Marketing and Business Development, David Brown says. “Now APM is expanding its geographical reach; utilising its manufacturing and engineering capabilities to offer high quality, OEM-standard products at competitive prices.
“As a Malaysian company with such a background, APM is able to differentiate itself from many regional peers. Few companies possess a corporate culture so invested in quality systems and processes. Even fewer possess such technical ability and yet also possess the communication and management skills to engage openly and ethically in the international market place.
“By investing overseas and by engaging Australian, American, Dutch, Indonesian and Vietnamese staff we increase our understanding of our target markets and we increase our appeal and approachability to successful international players in the automotive industry.”
Initially formed as part of the Tan Chong Group in the early 1970s, the Company transformed into its current guise in 1999 through its listing on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange as an independent entity; kick-starting an evolution that has revolved around the Mayalsian OEM market ever since.
Expanding in line with industry demand, and becoming more lean as an operator in the process, APM has subsequently become a major force in the national automotive landscape, as Brown explains: “With a strong domestic presence and healthy balance sheet, APM has been a natural partner for many international firms seeking to form joint ventures or technical relationships with firms in the region.
“Such partnerships and relationships help maintain APM’s technical capabilities and access to world-class technologies. In addition, APM has developed its own engineering and research division to improve our in-house capabilities.”
Such capabilities are improved upon each year also, investing heavily into new equipment, software and hardware along the way to keep abreast of the latest industry trends and technologies, while also cooperating with overseas partners and institutions to stay on top of demands region-wide.
From an equipment perspective “for validation and testing, APM has recently invested in performance and durability testing equipment such a multi test bed; suspension module testing; ingress and egress testing for seats; head rest impact testing; and comfort measurement equipment”, Brown notes. “APM has also completed a new setup of its leaf springs production line in Indonesia and is installing a second fully automated coil spring comprising an NC coiling machine and an advanced temperature control two-zone furnace.”
Highly recognised brand
Such internal growth facilitates external expansion and in more recent times, APM has invested a lot of time, effort and capital into pushing forward to new markets and gaining new customers.
“APM’s future growth will be driven primarily outside of Malaysia,” Brown emphasises. “We see this on two levels: first is ASEAN; second is the rest of the world.
“ASEAN is our home region; it is our ambition and strategy to replicate the success of APM in Malaysia across the primary nations of ASEAN. As such we are utilising the excellent relationships we have with vehicle manufacturers and international Tier 1 system makers to establish OEM standard manufacturing operations across the region.”
Additionally, the Company is also expanding its presence across key developed markets with the majority of its current exports already primed for western markets, the EU, the US and Australia.
Brown continues: “We are now investing in this success, establishing overseas support operations to improve customer service, local market knowledge, product development and efficient supply chains.”
Instilling philosophies of integrity, hard work, loyalty and collaboration among its workforce further compounds this ability to meet customer expectations, and has ultimately resulted in a new set of goals and visions for the forthcoming years as APM looks to play to its strengths and take the world by storm.
“In 2014, approximately 75 percent of APM’s turnover was OEM. This is our strength, it has made us who we are,” Brown concludes. “Our goal is, by 2020, for OEM to represent only 50 percent of APM’s turnover. This does not imply any reduction in our efforts to supply OEM business. Rather it highlights our intention to rapidly expand our overseas presence and also export sales to key developed markets.
“APM is a highly recognised brand in Malaysia but we aim to dramatically increase APM brand visibility across ASEAN, across all product groups, and to launch niche brands into sub-sections of the automotive aftermarket.
“Finally we expect our engineering research division to be the number one research and development centre in Malaysia; measured by patent registration.”