As a second-generation furniture business owner, Choy Wai Hin has come a long way in building up and spearheading the Federal Furniture group of companies. His vision and zeal has turned ideas into reality, which has made the company what it is today.
Federal Furniture Holdings (M) Berhad occupies leading positions in the various segments of the Malaysian furniture industry through its three main operating divisions of interior fit- out, export, and retail. The company’s prominence in the industry is attributed to its singular focus on the furniture industry, and to its 50 years of accumulated expertise and experience.
Wai Hin, age 52, graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) degree in Civil Engineering from King’s College, the University of London. Upon graduation in 1986, he worked briefly at Alam Jurutera Perunding, a civil engineering consultancy as a junior engineer before being called in to join his family’s growing furniture business.
Wai Hin started his life-long immersion in the furniture industry by working in the different parts of the business. As a technically trained graduate, he naturally began his career on the factory floor, getting involved in the manufacturing operations of the export division. From there he progressed steadily up the ranks and attained the position of executive director in charged of manufacturing within there years. As a key member of the executive team, Wai Hin has through the years acquired the technical and management skills needed to run a world-class furniture manufacturing and export business. He played a key role in the company’s plant modernization and capacity expansion to cater to the fast expanding furniture export business.
He also worked in the export sales department of the company where, for five years, he gained wide expertise in international business and marketing of furniture to big American and European corporations such as Target Stores, JC Penney and Karstadt. During that period, Wai Hin travelled widely in the USA and Europe, building a wide network of international customers as well as accumulating in-depth knowledge of the international furniture market.
While the company grew rapidly as a furniture manufacturer and exporter, it’s original core business as specialist interior fit-out contractor was also expanding steadily in tandem with Malaysia’s economic growth in the 80s when modern hotels started sprouting. Working in the hospitality fit-out department of the business further widened his expertise and experience in the furniture industry. “As a young man starting out in the family business, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with internationally renowned architects and interior designers, executing iconic projects in the country because the company was already established as a premier interior fit-out contractor,“ Wai Hin shared.
In December 1990, the parent holding company, Federal Furniture Holdings (M) Bhd. was taken public in an IPO on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (Bursa Kuala Lumpur), and Wai Hin joined the ranks of the executive directors on the board.
In 1993, Wai Hin was appointed to the position of Managing Director of the interior fit-out division of the group, Federal Furniture Industries Sdn Bhd. He spearheaded the expansion of the fit-out division as one of the country’s major fit-out contractors,
executing major projects such as The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel and iconic works in Putrajaya such as the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, the Deputy Prime Minister’s Official residence and the Istana Melawati.
Continuing his rise through the ranks of the company, in 1996, Wai Hin was made the Group Managing Director of the listed holding company, Federal Furniture Holdings (M) Bhd. In August 1997, Wai Hin took a brief sabbatical to attend the Program for Management Development (PMD) at the Harvard Business School, to return to Malaysia in 1998, with the company facing the challenges of the Asian Financial Crisis. His training at the Harvard Business School was immediately put to good use, when Wai Hin had to call upon all his business acumen, experience and training to restructure the business model of all three key divisions of the group (Manufacturing, Fit-Out and Retail) to align with the new realities post the Asian Financial Crisis.
The export division continues its steady growth under his leadership. Today, Federal Furniture has carved a niche for itself as a high quality manufacturer of store fixtures and fittings. Its highly automated manufacturing facilities in Olak Lempit, Selangor is at the center of regional store opening supply chain for international retail brands such as Starbucks Coffee and Krispy Kreme.
In 2013, Wai Hin led the company into the furniture retail industry by launching Kitchen Plus, Malaysia’s largest kitchen cabinet megastore. It’s first location in Damansara Perdana has been a hit with the Malaysian consumer, and plans are well underway to expand the Kitchen Plus megastore concept to cover 5 more locations in the Klang Valley.
Under Wai Hin’s present leadership, Federal Furniture Holdings (M) Bhd remains Malaysia’s leading furniture group with subsidiaries holding leading positions in the manufacturing and export market, the domestic interior fit-out industry and the furniture retail market.