Ambitious and non-conforming – these are the two key qualities that encapsulate the personality of Hamidon Abdullah and his drive for success. A kampung boy hailing from a small village near Muar in Johor, Hamidon says that he had always known since young that he wanted to be different and achieve something significant.
As a student, he studied hard and excelled in school to procure scholarships because he knew his family could not afford a tertiary education for him. Hamidon completed his education at the prestigious Royal Military College before winning a Colombo Plan scholarship to pursue his studies in Australia. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Mathematics & Computer Science and attained a Master’s Degree in Urban & Regional Planning from University of Adelaide.
Backed by his town-planning qualification, Hamidon worked with several companies in Australia and Malaysia in the fields of transportation, urban planning, and architecture.
Wanting to achieve more, Hamidon began his very own entrepreneurial journey a number of years later. “I realised there is immense potential for multi-fold revenue through a simple combination of people and machinery, so in 1986 I started EP Manufacturing Bhd (EPMB),” Hamidon reveals. What started as a producer of shampoo bottles using second-hand equipment has now segued and grown into one of the most prominent automotive components manufacturer in the country, of which he helms as Executive Chairman.
In 1999, Hamidon reignited his passion for building by foraying into property development. He made his first mark with a luxury residential development in Subang named Serai Saujana before venturing into other residential developments in Melbourne, Australia. In 2007, he strengthened his foothold in the property industry by participating in a buy-in of a public listed property development company known as Mutiara Goodyear Development Bhd. The company was later rebranded in 2011 as Nadayu Properties Bhd, a strategy that Hamidon as Executive Chairman spearheaded. In 2012, he started Areca Properties Sdn Bhd which he oversees as Executive Director.
Hamidon started EPMB during the economic downturn; a move he purposefully made, reflective of his business foresight. “I believe in making investments during down periods. It is going against the grain; when most people are cutting their expenses or exiting the market entirely, I look to seize opportunities in anticipation of the eventual economic turnaround,” he says.
The public listed tier one manufacturer supplies finished modules and main structural components for Proton, Perodua, Toyota, Honda, and several manufacturers in the Middle East. The long-standing partnerships that Hamidon has established with bigwigs such as Bosch and Koito Manufacturing bolster his emphasis on technology reinvestment and innovation. The company currently operates three plants in Shah Alam and Batang Kali in Selangor, and Rembia in Melaka; culminating to a total built-up of 12 acres, a workforce of 1,200 people, and an annual turnover of over RM 500 million. His eldest son Johan runs the company alongside him.
On property development, Hamidon reveals why he enjoys it. “I like building properties because I get to employ manufacturing principles in a field that isn’t traditionally defined by mass production and pre-set fabrications. Being able to do so helps us achieve higher standards of quality.”
When Hamidon was appointed Executive Chairman of Nadayu Properties, he made it his mandate to reposition the group as a niche boutique developer with a distinctive signature in lifestyle development. Every
new development has his personal touch. “I appreciate spaces. When I sit down with my project managers to design a new home, I plan the spaces as if I am living in it. I also set high standards for my team to achieve in terms of product quality and timely delivery.”
That new benchmark was established when the maiden project, Nadayu Melawati luxury bungalows, won several awards including the International Property Award, Asia Pacific Property Award, BCI Asia’s Top 10 Developers Award, and the SC Cheah Choice Award from 2011 to 2013.
Naturally, Hamidon is not satisfied with resting on his laurels. “I have mobilised a number of my private land holdings for more residential developments. After the Nadayu Melawati bungalows, we have launched more residences in the Klang Valley and I’m looking forward to more launches we have in the pipeline.”
In FY 2013, Nadayu raked in RM 215 million in revenue, more than doubling its FY 2010 earnings when it launched the first of its Nadayu-branded projects. The company employs over 100 staff based at its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur and its project sites across the Klang Valley and Penang. As an extension of the Nadayu brand and to tap into a new demographic of homebuyers, he set up Areca Properties in 2012 with his second son Aidan. The company has launched two developments this year with a Gross Development Value (GDV) totalling RM 1 billion.
Combined, Hamidon’s development footprint spans Melawati, Bandar Sunway, Kajang, Cyberjaya, Shah Alam, and Bukit Gambir in Penang. Together with his private land holdings, the total GDV is in excess of RM 3 billion. Through his close relationship with the Bosch fraternity, both Nadayu and Areca have also established a lifestyle collaboration with the German manufacturer.
If one were to follow Hamidon around at work for a day, it becomes apparent how the business veteran has been able to build three successful companies. He is an adept businessman with a leadership style that can be described as visionary and firm. As he meets with his department heads for updates, Hamidon speaks of new opportunities for things to be done differently and implores his people to continuously reach higher. He is creative and resilient in his approach, while possessing an astute instinct for what works best. “I may not always be right, but I am never wrong. So believe in me and follow me,” is Hamidon’s philosophy that echoes instances where his determination has seen many ambitious plans come to fruition.
At the same time, Hamidon is very willing to share his knowledge and success with others. “I trust my people and I’m always ready to guide them to reach their potential. I also believe in giving back when there is more to share because to me, my most valuable building blocks are my people.”
Outside of the office, Hamidon exudes a lighter side. “Unknown to most people, I am actually a fun person, particularly when I was younger,” he says with a grin. “I enjoy tennis. I travel to Australia, Wimbledon, France, and the U.S. to watch the grand slam tournaments. I also like long drives. It gives me quiet time to myself and allows me to think.” The unassuming man is also a good cook and makes excellent roast duck, as attested by a long-standing colleague.
At the age of 62, Hamidon is still brimming with energy and shows no signs of slowing down. The man who is constantly on the go says he is still on his journey towards perfection – one that he says is never ending. “In my own process of taking the next step up, I am willing to take others on the journey with me. In the end when it is my time to go, my success will be measured by how much sustainability I am able to create for the future through my present achievements”, he reflects.