I am an Entrepreneur with businesses in the Material Handling industry to Consultation in Financial Services and Management Services. In the pipeline are more business ideas to be converted from idea to reality.
What is Material Handling industry?
According to Wikipedia, Material Handling equipment is all equipment that relates to the movement, storage, control and protection of materials, goods and products throughout the process of manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal. Material handling equipment is the mechanical equipment involved in the complete system. Material handling equipment is generally separated into four main categories: storage and handling equipment, engineered systems, industrial trucks, and bulk material handling.
Industry Material handling industry encompasses a wide range of products. As for my business, we are specialists in Forklifts. Some other names include reach trucks, lift trucks, stacker trucks, etc.
Prior to entering this industry, my experiences were in the industries of Information Technology and Financial Services. I had worked in the Information Technlogy sector for a few years before setting up my Financial Services Consultation business prior to my involvement in the Material Handling business.
Is this industry different? I will say the difference is as big as heaven and earth. Everything was different – the people, the mentality, the expectations, the method of communication, etc. If I can sum it into one word, it would be “Chinaman” industry.
One of my biggest challenge in this industry was to ADAPT. It is as simple as adapt or die a slow painful death 😦 (yeah, I kid you not). Majority of the people here have been practising a certain business “way” for as long as they can remember and things have not changed. It is as if they are stuck in time and to expect change from them is like stabbing a dagger in their hearts.
Don’t misunderstand me. There are many good and wonderful people in this industry but perhaps they have not kept abreast of developments in other indsutries. Also, they are very rooted in their comfort zone. I felt like an alien when I entered the industry. I believe they too felt I was quite an alien to them with my different communication methods, thoughts, etc. There is the rampant gossips, back-stabbing, drinking, etc.
This is also an industry where “Prices” are Kings. It is not value for money that matters to them but Prices. I find it really difficult to understand that some people are willing to foresake quality for dirt-cheap price, even if it means a product will breakdown within a week. :0
We once had a big event to celebrate with our top customers. Sponsorship is a non-existent word in our principle’s vocabulary. They’re big companies but have no budgets for such matters. In fact they did not believe it was necessary. Anyway, after much negotiation, we managed to secure a sum of sponsorship from a few of them. Then it was the turn of our customers who could hardly believe their eyes that a scale of this event (inc the purpose) was possible. in conclusion, our event was real eye opener and first time experience for almost all of them.
Every marketing activity is met with much resistance. Basically they do not believe it will work and they derive this belief from the fact that nobody has ever done such things and there it is either unnecessary or will not work. Therefore every time we have a marketing activity, we have much negotiation/persuasion to do – not only to have their participation but also to educate them. Time to think out of the box!
Because there was so much resistance and challenge, I had to “import” experts from outside the industry – my wife. Her forte in marketing, branding, strategic planning and public relation was crtitical to the transformation and growth of the business. Also her presence and moral support was important to me. Nothing like someone closest to you that shares the same mentality and belief. For that I am grateful to my wife. She is now a counsel to me as she is fully involved in her business venture – Estate Planning Designing (http://www.facebook.com/Your.Will.Be.Done)
I am now into my 7-8 years. While the condition is still a challenge at times, it has definitely improved. People know me better now and has seen the fruits of some of our “unconventional” thoughts/actions. Then again as in all industries, this may also draw some unwanted attention. I may be perceived as a “uninvited” competitor.
In conclusion I have adapted well (though not completely yet) with the exception of drinking, gossiping & back-stabbing. Praise God for His strength and wisdom. It is by His grace that I had journeyed this business one day at a time to where I am now. Our business now encompasses the whole of Malaysia including a growing internationl clientele. Our company is reputed to be trustworthy, value for money and loads of value add services. Of course we are excellent at relationship building.