Muar Kianho Tyres & Batteries Sdn Bhd, a family-run business, has been in the industry since the 1960s. From the beginning, the company specialised in truck tyre servicing.
“We were the first Dunlop Klinik Truck Centre in Malaysia and later upgraded to Dunlop Royale Truck Centre. When my dad first started the business in 1964, our shop was located in town but he soon realised that it was dangerous to service a truck right in the middle of a busy road. In need of a much bigger space, my dad moved to the outskirts of town,” said Executive Director Chua Kok Wan.
Today, the company carries Bridgestone’s signage. “We became Bridgestone Truck Tyre Centre (BTTC) in 2005. As the first and the only BTTC in Muar, we are proud to be part of Bridgestone’s success in this segment. We stock an extensive range of Bridgestone tyres for the commercial truck industry. Apart from tyre retail and tyre servicing such as wheel alignment and balancing, we also cover preventive maintenance services that include oil, lube and filter service, minor repairs and replacements for trucks, buses, tippers and equipment.”
Equipped with cutting-edge tyre servicing equipment, Chua stressed that the company was very well- known for wheel balancing and alignment. “We are able to perform good wheel alignment and balancing with consistent accuracy. Thus, many fleet operators will send their vehicles to us before sending them to Puspakom for mandatory inspection.”
A second generation owner, Chua admitted that when he took over the family business in 1993, all of the groundwork had been laid and the easiest way was to conduct ‘business as usual’. But Chua was aware that today’s business environment had become more competitive and had to explore new ways, including diversifying his products and services, to grow the company.
“Though we have been involved in the passenger car and commercial vehicle tyre wholesale business for years, we have not placed enough emphasis in this area. My plan is to further expand our tyre wholesale business.”
The major tyre brands that the company distributes include Bridgestone, Firestone, Michelin, Goodyear, Toyo Tires and Continental.
Muar Kianho has its own trucks for distribution. The expansion to the lubricant sector has enabled the company to make full use of its 3 trucks and drivers. “Though we have a different sales team for lubricants, the logistic part is the same. We do not have to engage other transporters to distribute the lubricants as we have our own fleet. Furthermore, many of our lubricant customers are existing ones who buy tyres from us.”
It was about 12 years ago that Chua set up another company called MKH Syenergy Marketing to start the lubricant business. “We became the wholesale supplier of BP Castrol lubricants and worked our way up. Today, the company is the BP Castrol authorised distributor for Melaka and northern Johor region. The lubricants that we carry include passenger car, commercial vehicle and industrial lubricants. Passenger and commercial vehicle lubricants are our two main focuses.”
Talking about competition, he said price undercutting was still a common issue in the local tyre industry. “It is not ethical to capture customers through price undercutting. Constant price cutting not only erode your profit margins but would also affect the pricing structure of the entire industry. We need to have reasonable pricing to be sustainable. Sometimes the competitors are not aware of the credit terms and warranty issues that are involved in our business deals and they think that they can make a profit on customers gained through a low price. We urge the industry players to compete through product and service quality as well as value-added services and innovations.”
Moving forward, he revealed that the company had recently recruited a management trainee. “We hope to grow and nurture business leaders for the future. But we believe in hands-on learning as the trainee has to understand the entire business operation before he can take over the management role.”
Also in the pipeline is the setting up of a 3M department for its fleet customers. Chua explained that this would be an independent department, which would consist of tyre maintenance, monitoring and management. “We will take away the hassle of tyre fleet management and allow our customers to focus on their core business and activities. We have the experience and expertise to help our customers to save their operational cost and protect their tyre assets.”