In 2019 Malaysian tread rubber manufacturer Maxrubber Industries Sdn Bhd celebrated its 30th anniversary. At that time the company was raising its profile rapidly both at home and in overseas markets. The last two years, of course, have been more difficult for obvious reasons, but now that the worst of the pandemic has passed us by, the company is now ready once more to continue the growth it was showing in the pre-Covid period. We spoke to Managing Director John Lee and Marketing Manager Liew Choon Kong about the company’s plans for the future.
Retreading Business Catches up with Maxrubber
Lee and Liew are the first to admit that market conditions in South-East Asia are still not easy. The market is shrinking due to the activities of the Chinese tyre manufacturers and high inflation, like in many other parts of the world, is not helping. Nonetheless, Maxrubber managed to navigate the pandemic successfully, partly due to the fact that the company was one of the few in the sector, which managed to get permission to work during the pandemic.
“We managed to do this in a low-profile manner,” says John Lee. “We were impacted by the pandemic and by issues such as congestion in the ports, but mainly the impact on ourselves was not so bad. Overseas deliveries in some cases were delayed by a couple of weeks, but the impact was not excessive. We were quite lucky in this respect, but also helped by the fact that most of our customers do not operate on a just-in-time basis. Most of them hold some stocks.”
Post pandemic the company is now looking to increase its sales to overseas markets, particularly to the US, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. According to Liew, Maxrubber has had quite a few enquiries from East Africa and the Middle East, in markets like Kenya and Oman. Europe is a little more difficult because the company is currently selling direct rather than through an agent. “We are on the lookout for a European agent, but this is not easy due to the fact that potential clients tend to want immediate supply via a local warehouse or very long terms.”
In terms of specific sectors, Maxrubber is focusing to some degree on developing a position in the OTR sector and is looking for opportunities in areas where there is a strong OTR market such as South America.
Meanwhile, Maxrubber continues to make investments at its factory. “We tend to make an investment in the plant every year,” explains John Lee. “Last year we bought a new press, and this year we have bought a new extruder and a new sanding machine, which will be installed in January and which will help us save on Manpower.”
With the international exhibition scene now opening up, Maxrubber is looking to promote at shows on a regular basis. The next event where the company will be present is at Tyrexpo Asia next March. “We will be increasing overseas visits to clients as well as our presence at shows,” says Liew. “We normally plan for one show per year, and next year Singapore will be the focus of our attention.”