Fri, 17/08/2018 - 05:10
Current Issue 41
Growth on all fronts
From expanded warehousing and product lines to new markets and treatment discovery, Malaysia’s Antah HealthCare Group is in a phase of unrelenting activity
Writer: Tom Wadlow
Project Manager: Callam Waller
“Coming straight out of uni, I wasn’t really prepared to dive into the family business and talk the terminology with these hugely experienced people. I came in green and had to learn bit by bit.”
From graduating in Boston, USA in 2000 to leading the expansion of a multimillion-dollar healthcare business 18 years later, Tunku Mohamed Alauddin has enjoyed a career not many holders of a marketing degree would anticipate embarking on.
The CEO and Executive Director of Malaysia’s Antah HealthCare Group was invited into the medical division of his family’s multifaceted business shortly after graduation, working his way through the ranks to the top of what is today a vibrant, expanding organisation.
With origins stretching back to the 1960s, the Company now operates under two main units which combine to specialise in the marketing, sales, warehousing and distribution of high quality medical and pharmaceutical products. These are sourced from leading suppliers all over the world, including the likes of the UK, USA, Germany, France, China and Switzerland.
Antah Sri Radin is the Group’s medical equipment arm, supplying vital goods to public and private hospitals and clinics, covering operating theatres, sterilisation, emergency wards and consumables.
Antah Pharma markets and sells pharmaceutical products through its warehousing and distribution setup anchored in Petaling Jaya, in the centre of the country. Major clients include government (50 percent), pharmacies (30 percent) and general practitioners and specialist centres (20 percent).
Alauddin prides Antah HealthCare Group on its personal approach to the way it does business and treats clients, grounded in decades of relationship building with Malaysia’s doctors and pharmacies.
“Clients have direct access to me,” Alauddin says. “We’re in a niche market and ensure that customers don’t get caught up in layers of bureaucracy. Having worked through the ranks I have met our principals around the world, and travel is an important part of my role now. I get my hands dirty.”
This continual trust building is also testament to Antah’s team of employees, highlighted by Alauddin as the Company’s key assets.
He adds: “Most of our employees stay with us for at least 15 years. We have many employees who have been with us for more than 20 years.
“We constantly review our commission scheme to ensure we have a competitive salary package to motivate our employees, while yearend incentive trips are also important. Further, one of the most attractive packages we have had in Antah since 1980 is our retirement fund contribution plan.”
Alauddin also points to the stature of brands that its employees work with on a daily basis. For instance, Eschmann has been a partner for over 40 years, while other household names such as Mylan and Sunward continually supply Antah with high quality products which almost sell themselves.
In with the new
Selling quality also requires a service to match, and Antah HealthCare’s distribution hub ensures its customers receive shipments in a timely manner.
Its base in Petaling Jaya comprises a 25,000-square-foot warehouse, a facility which processes around 500 invoices a day, peaking at 1,000 during busy periods. In terms of delivery, the Group uses its own trucks for bulky items within 50 kilometres, while urgent deliveries of smaller items are made on motorbike within 20 kilometres.
“Our warehouse staff are all on standby for after office hours working hours to ensure we are able to deliver the products to our customers within 48 and 72 hours,” Alauddin says. “We place a very high value in our customers’ satisfaction, and we are all ever ready to deliver the products to them as soon as possible.”
Alauddin also outlines plans to expand capacity to cater to growing demand, either by extending the current site or building a new facility. The firm is currently in talks with the Malaysian government over a potential plot for the project.
New technology is also being migrated into various company processes, from a brand-new ERP system to solutions which will provision a greater online offering for clients and customers.
“We need to grow our online ordering and pharmacy presence,” explains Alauddin. “This trend is happening worldwide as more and more people look for convenience in healthcare, opting to buy online where before they would visit a pharmacy.
“Malaysia’s market is steadily becoming more receptive to ordering online, and I hope to have these upgrades in place by the end of 2018.”
Vital progress could also be on the horizon regarding new treatments thanks to work being carried out by Antah HealthCare’s partner’s R&D team.
The first cited by Alauddin is designed to aid the treatment of an extremely problematic fever that is commonly caught across Malaysia and the wider ASEAN region – mosquito-borne Dengue. Antah HealthCare is currently in discussions with the government over a plant-based remedy which has so far seen more than 2,000 cases of Dengue patients having fully recovered.
“This product will boost the immune system and it will correct the bio-imbalance of the patient, and we can see the recovery in just three to five days,” adds Alauddin.
The other potential breakthrough being explored is Denvax, a treatment for cancer designed to complement chemotherapy and help prevent recurrence.
“We are trying to set up clinical trials for this at the moment and are in the process of working with the government to secure a research grant,” Alauddin says. “The treatment involves extraction of cells and reinsertion back into the body to help fight returning cancer cells.”
Further still, the Company is seeking to build its own generic drugs offering in four high growth areas – diabetes, psychotropic, oncology and aesthetics.
Geographical diversification is another priority for the Group, having established a firm base in Malaysia over the past 60 years.
Its home country is ideally situated as a springboard into other Southeast Asian markets, and this has led to Alauddin being approached by companies operating in several nearby countries, including Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia and Laos.
“On an isolated case, we have just recently signed a MOU with a group of healthcare business associates, including third party administration and insurance companies, for our Myanmar business venture,” Alauddin adds. “We are currently doing a feasibility study and due diligence, and if everything is green, we are expecting to foray into Myanmar by the second half of 2019.”
The CEO also wants to tap into the massive FMCG market across the region. The Company is currently evaluating a promising pipeline of products which it is looking to sell through a new, dedicated FMCG team comprised of online marketing and retail experts.
“While Malaysia and Singapore are leading the way in modern trade, both markets have a combined population of merely 40 million out of the 600 million population in ASEAN as a whole,” Alauddin continues.
“The biggest potentials are coming from Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines for modern trade, and our secondary markets for FMCG products are the remaining ASEAN countries, namely the Indo-China countries.”
From new warehousing and product lines to exploration of regional markets and scientific breakthroughs, this is arguably the busiest time in Antah HealthCare Group’s existence, and one which Alauddin believes can define the next chapter in its long history.
He concludes: “There are a lot of things happening concurrently in Antah. I believe we will be very different in five years from now.”