Recently Adam from our team sat down with Michael Ng, Latham’s exclusive Malaysian Distributor, from Sun Synergy Sgn Bhd. He shares stories of how he started in the industry, news about trending construction issues in South East Asia, and updates on Latham’s product offerings.
Q1. What do you do at Sun Synergy, Michael?
As a Managing Director, I oversee almost every aspect of the business. As we’re considered a small trading company in Malaysia, we all need to get our hands ‘dirty’ so to speak. Apart from office management, I maintain regularly contact with our clients and actively seek out for opportunities to introduce Latham products into their projects.
Q2. How did you get started in the business?
I was a salesman from the early days and I still am to this day. I’ve always ventured into getting the best products with the highest quality for my clients. Prior to working with Latham Australia Pty Ltd , I was involved in introducing Australian sanitary wares into the Malaysian market. An opportunity struck during the late 90’s when there was a national disaster whereby two blocks of condominium fell due to a huge landslide. The whole construction industry was shocked and the call for high quality building
materials was laid upon every contractor. I received a call from my client who was constructing a shopping mall in Melaka town asking for a high quality and reliable expansion joint cover. It was then I found David Latham and the amazing range of products that he’d been designing, manufacturing and supplying in Australia and throughout the world. This was well before Sun Synergy was established!
We hit it off from the very beginning and the offer of being a sole agent in Malaysia was something I simply could not refuse. As they say, the rest is history. Sun Synergy came intoexistence in 1999 and we have been a proud distributor for Lathams ever since.
Q3. Do you have a favourite building in Malaysia?
The Petronas Twin Towers which is fondly known as KLCC in Malaysia, is the world’s tallest twin tower and most prestigious building in the country. Every time I look at it, I am reminded of the Latham Asbra safety products installed in their emergency stairwells, and the expansion joint cover on the link bridge at 41st and 42nd floors. This is the highest 2 story bridge in the world — you can just imagine the high levels of movement that those joints are controlling over so many years.
Q4. What are the biggest challenges in the building industry you’ve seen in Malaysia and South East Asia in general?
Overall the last few years have been quite challenging in Malaysia. The rising cost of construction is due to the accumulated effects of GST since its implementation in April 2015, the cost of construction is rising. This has both direct and indirectly impact the Malaysian building industry.
The sensitivity to pricing has overshadowed many innovative, efficient and long term cost effective products in the industry. The most gloomy sentiment still linger in this region is the lack of OH&S implementation in most building requirements.
In the face of a noticeable slowdown in this region due to the crude oil prices tumbling, we think we’ve identified a proverbial “silver lining”. More and more younger architects and engineers that we’re working with are consistently implementing higher international standards when it comes to building products.
Barring Singapore, the majority of the South East Asian region still relies heavily on traditional ‘quick-fixes’. Many innovative products have had to overcome initial scepticism inthe market, as well as in the mindsets of more senior architects and developers. The perception that it would entail heavy costs and specialised expertise in order to use these products does not help to promote the industry. However, we’ve noticed that many of the younger blood industry players are more willing to invest. The resultsspeak for themselves! Businesses save in cost effectiveness and management over the long run.
Q5. How has this affected your services as a supplier?
Sun Synergy in Malaysia is firmly established as the pioneer in the Expansion Joint and Control Joint sector. We’ve worked tirelessly to maintain a good working relationship with many notable architects, engineers and developers. Although we’ve been able to leverage the Malaysia/Australia Free Trade Agreement, Malaysia is still a very price sensitive market. This is of particular concern to the industry once you add in the influx of lesser quality imports from our neighbour China.
Our endgame is to provide an excellent set of services & solutions to our clients, and this ethos has so far set us in a much stronger position than our competitors.
Moving forward, Sun Synergy has now embarked on educational approach to related industry players such as to major tile and stone suppliers. Our aim is to show that Latham products are complementing products to theirs and this has yielded a few good projects to date.
Q6. What do you like about supplying Latham products to projects?
Apart from the amazing support supplied by our Latham friends to us at Sun Synergy, we’re also 110% certain that the products we sell are top notch quality and will always outperform the competitors.
We’re proud that each time Latham products are specified into a project, everyone knows it’s a fail-proof product and that the delivery lead time is unmatched by any other supplier. We’re also pleased to be able to deal with a 3rd generation Australian family owned and operated company. This resonates with us, as Sun Synergy is a very proudly Malaysian owned and operated company that is presently managed by 2 generations of family expertise.
Q7. After hosting a Premier Display Suite at the Archidex 2016 conference, what was it that you enjoyed the most?
The Archidex 2016 conference is regarded as one of the best industry shows in South East Asia. We were very happy to finally be allocated an exhibition space after two years waiting in line. The ability to showcase Latham products was an opportunity we couldn’t pass on. The people we encountered included a plethora of regional players in the Malaysian building industry, such as architects, designers, engineers, students and the public.
This year, the Latham Asbraloy Safety Stair Tread Nosings was featured in their “New Product Award” competition, which remains a very highly coveted industry recognition award for excellence in design and production. Stay tuned to hear how the Latham product got on amongst a very high class range of innovative products, both from Malaysia and around the globe.
Q8. Thanks for your time here Michael. Any final words?
I would just like to thank Latham’s for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of their web presence and blog. We’re extremely proud to be Latham Australia’s sole agent in Malaysia and to be able to bring their world class products into our market.
We’ve also re-launched our website which has been specifically redesigned to cater to the needs of the Malaysian Building and Construction Industry. We welcome you to head on over and take a look for yourself.
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