Mary has over 20 years experience as the editor of our Malaysian sister magazine, The Tyreman. Based in Kuala Lumpur, she writes articles for us on the Malaysian and other South East Asian markets.
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Sibu-based Wheeltrak Tyres (EM) Sdn Bhd was established in 1997 during the Asean financial crisis. Yong Leh Tung and his friends bought a factory (which still operates today) at the Upper Lanang Industrial Park and started a joint venture in the tyre retreading business. Today, on the half acre of the land sits their retread factory, headquarters and warehouse.
“I do not have any tyre retreading knowledge and technical skills; my strength is in management. However, we enjoyed a very strong technical back-up from Newera, our retreading equipment supplier. At that time, we worked closely with Lee Heng Heng of Newera, during which various training was arranged for our staff.”
The company used to produce a small amount of hot cure retreaded tyres for the logging sector in the past. But it now focuses solely on the precure process, producing light and truck tyre retreads. Compared to the average of 700-800 retreads per month previously, the company currently produces 200 to 300 retreads due to the market slowdown and cheaper new truck tyres from China.
From the tyre retreading business, the company expanded to new passenger car radial (PCR) tyre distribution through its subsidiaries and associated companies. It is now the distributor of Pirelli, Jinyu and Otani PCR tyres as well as Apollo Truck Bus Radial (TBR) tyres for Sarawak.
Yong achieved an important milestone in 2000 by setting up the first Michelin tyre service centre in Sarawak under its subsidiary Wheeltrak Auto Services Sdn Bhd. Building on the success, Yong continued to partner with different tyre brands including Continental and Silverstone through its subsidiaries that carry the respective signage. The company also operates a Westlake Truck Centre. Westlake, he stressed, was a premium Chinese tyre in the market and ranked number 10 in the world. Apart from that, the company has a Castrol Service Centre. All these centres operate on their own premises.
“I always believe in working with an established and reputable company. We have a very good relationship with Newera, which is the leading tyre servicing and retreading equipment supplier in Malaysia. We bought all of our equipment from them. Continuous investment in advanced equipment is important to ensure accuracy and quality in the service that we provide. Equally important is the skill and knowledge of our staff, making sure that they are well equipped and keep abreast of current technology.”
When asked about the secret of the company’s rapid development and business expansion, Yong revealed that the staff was paid well and there were ample career advancement opportunities for them. If they performed well, they would stand a chance of being promoted to a branch manager and the company would give them a certain percentage of shares in the company.
“We distribute many brands of tyres and other products. However, we are very flexible; all of our branches are free to order their products elsewhere if they could find products that are cheaper than ours. At the end of the day, the most important factor is their revenue.”
Yong believed that successful businesses were built on relationships; relationships between employers and employees, staff and customers, and the foundation of all relationships was trust. Trust formed the foundation for effective communication, he stressed, as well as employee retention and motivation. A company that was able to create a strong sense of trust in the workplace was able to weather the storms thrown up by the competition and expand further.
“I will pay a visit to all the outlets every month to have a meeting with the manager. This allows us to understand the development of each outlet and resolve problems; this enhances the confidence of our dealers,” he added.
Last year, the company celebrated its 20th anniversary. Yong was thankful for the loyalty and effort of his staff, especially many of the outlet managers who had been with the company for more than 10 years. Yong also treasured the unwavering trust of his business partners, staff and dealers that enabled the company to ‘gear’ through various hardships and challenges.
“The company was set up during a difficult time – the Asean financial crisis – and we were able to weather the economic storm and grow. If you keep calm in the face of your challenges and even in failure, you will find that most challenges are not challenges at all,” he concluded.
诗巫的威德轮胎（东马）私人有限公司创立于1997年，当时正逢东盟财务危机。 杨礼统和他的朋友们在Upper Lanang工业园买下了一间工厂（目前总公司所在），合股经营轮胎翻新生意。今天，在这面积半英亩土地上的是他们的翻胎厂、总部及仓库。
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