MUAR, JOHOR – Sinwah Industries Berhad Malaysia (Sinwah), a leading apparel OEM manufacturer in Malaysia with 37 years of experience took a hard hit during the pandemic in 2020 with extended Movement Control Orders (MCO), cancellation of bulk orders and orders being carried forward to the following financial year.
The Management and its team however envisioned a way to help their production survive these hard times by shifting from a B2B to B2C production in just 3 months.
“I was a member of the Entrepreneur’s Organisation and in an online seminar conducted by a renowned transformation guru, manufacturers like us were advised to have a total shut down to cut our losses due to the acute uncertainty of the situation and re-open only when things are more stable. The fear is real as we kept seeing and hearing of medium sized manufacturers like ourselves losing their footing with production halts and having to let go of their people. These are hard decisions to make for any business owner.
“We still had our 70 employees whom we had to care for and manage carefully as their livelihoods depended on us. Sitting idle waiting for this to pass was not an option so we looked at our existing capabilities and decided to pivot our business to producing fabric masks through a new business entity, Mask-A-Raid,” shared Mr. Tang Ching Leng, Managing Director of Sinwah Industries Berhad.
The team at Sinwah worked at record speed to research fabric masks and the production facility prepared itself to shift its process to fit mass mask production. The strategy setting to execution was done entirely as an online collaboration as the team scrambled to gather data, materials and reverse-engineer various masks in the market while observing the MCO.
The company, which is traditionally a B2B business, took the challenge of transforming itself into a B2C business that sells directly to the end consumer.
Mr. Tang further elaborates on the journey to establishing a digital presence, “We have been exploring digital capabilities for our production facility, but this pandemic pushed us head on to embrace and expand it to online retail if we wanted to stay afloat. Our team with traditional roles like merchandising and purchasing put on new hats to become e-commerce sales leaders and channel managers as the product sale points were both offline in places like pharmacies and online through our website and Shopee.
“The team took digital courses to gain more knowledge and we truly appreciate the support we received from Shopee through their programs like Shopee University which helped us understand and operate in this new environment faster. The company also engaged with Google courses and digital marketing experts to provide further in-depth consultation to the team.”
“We also invested RM200,000 to support our digital presence with a Digital Warehousing system and R&D for our new products, especially the Ultra X masks with its hypoallergenic and Viroblock technology to ensure that our masks provide the benefits of double masking with a single mask.
“We are proud to see the brand grow from a RM7,000 monthly sales when it was first launched in June 2020 and hitting RM140,000 in monthly sales a year later. Although it could not quite make up for the substantial fall in revenue for Sinwah’s main business, the growth momentum and positive customer feedback gave the team a reason and motivation to double their efforts and bring the company back to its feet,” added Mr. Tang.
Building further on the mask business, Sinwah has also founded Awesome PPE which continues to leverage on their existing production facilities in Muar to research, design and produce quality PPEs for the medical industry in the region.
As evidence of the company’s commitment towards producing high quality PPE products, Sinwah has obtained the ISO 13485 certification in 2021, which is recognized throughout the world as a quality management system standard designed specifically for medical device manufacturers.
Their business also grew with corporate bulk orders for masks from businesses operating locally who have shown their commitment towards protecting their employees with high quality fabric masks from Mask-A-Raid as part of their care kits during the lockdown and as they come back to work.
The company also extended its support through customised fabric mask contributions for NGOs like Gibbons Conservation Society, refugee shelters and frontliners like schools, government agencies and PDRM.
“While we will continue our apparels business with the industry slowly recovering its pace, we are excited to have expanded our business units with Mask-A-Raid and Awesome PPE. The PPE business is built on the strength of our bulk production and sales experience. We expect a collective RM5m in sales from both Mask-A-Raid and Awesome PPE in sales for 2022.
“Moving into 2022, based on the interest we have gained from businesses in Malaysia, we are going to move into the B2B sphere for fabric mask production as our current facility can produce up to 100,000 masks a month. We are thankful to our team and production workforce for standing by and believing in us to turn the challenge that this pandemic has been into an opportunity for the long term,” concluded Mr. Tang.