Teh Hun Siang is the present Managing Director of Behn Meyer Chemicals (M) Sdn Bhd and CEO of Behn Meyer Specialty Chemicals LLP in Singapore, boasting 35 years of service to Behn Meyer. He holds a BSc Degree in Materials Technology from the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK.
As one of the major driving forces of Behn Meyer Southeast Asia, Hun Siang’s achievements are the results of many years of dedication and hard work. Even as a precocious young student, his interest in the chemicals and polymers fields drove him to pursue research and development stints at the International Tin Research Institute in London and Courtaulds Ltd in Coventry. During his industrial exposures in the UK, Hun Siang was hard at work examining the castability of tin alloys and studying synthetic fibres (carbon fibre, nylon fibre, glass fibre,PP fibre and acrylic fibre) reinforcement in polyester and epoxy resins. These research and development experiences exposed him to the raw building blocks of the industries, allowing him to develop the insight necessary to commercialise and market cutting-edge research.
On returning to Malaysia, Hun Siang was quickly identified for his talent and potential by National Semiconductors, a major American semiconductors manufacturer. On starting his first job, Hun Siang was immediately handpicked to be a part of an intensive three-month management training programme at the regional headquarter of National Semiconductors in Singapore. Lessons on high volume production scheduling, total quality management, inventory control and masterful time management honed Hun Siang’s aptitude for management. These skills would come to shape his management style and business acumen later in his career.
Eager to expand his knowledge and footprint in the industry, Hun Siang embarked on a new career at Behn Meyer on 1st November 1980. He was hired as a product development executive in the Plastics Department right from the outset basing on his outgoing personality. Hun Siang brought to Behn Meyer the diligent work ethic for which he would later be known for. Combined with his go-getter attitude, Hun Siang was promoted to Area Manager of Plastics Department in Penang within three short years. Hun Siang’s rise continued a year later as his responsibilities were amplified to include the Rubber Chemicals Department of Penang.
Hun Siang’s foray into sales management was met with success as he presided over years of high growth both domestically and internationally. Annual sales performances topped figures from the years before. At a time when latex gloves manufacturing and consumer electronics businesses were experiencing robust growth in the Northern States of Peninsula, Hun Siang and his team were quick in identifying this trend and capitalising on it to deliver phenomenal results for the Polymers business. Hun Siang’s success quickly brought on added responsibilities; by June 1986, he was made Division Manager of Rubber Chemicals for the entire country while still Area Manager of Polymers Division for Penang.
Like all success stories, Hun Siang’s has seen his fair share of challenges as well. In 1989, a key principal supplier in each of the Plastics and Rubber Chemicals businesses decided to end business relations with Behn Meyer, and this had a dramatic impact on the company as a whole. A restructuring exercise followed, and Hun Siang was moved to KL in 1990 to head up the Polymers Division at the head office and bring in his know-how. He faced a bleak situation with high attrition of sales personnel and company morale at historic lows.
Hun Siang moved quickly to tackle the issues plaguing the Division. He instituted a “jigsaw” approach of establishing relationships with multiple suppliers to prevent over-reliance on any one
supplier. Additionally, he aggressively recruited qualified sales personnel to inject new talents into the Division and positioned them strategically to address gaps in the Division’s agency strategy. Perhaps the most lasting change was the leadership by example that Hun Siang instituted, further cementing his reputation as a committed manager who favoured solutions over excuses. “In the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges, the easier path may be to assign blame, but the path to success is the one that seeks solutions and results instead,” shares Hun Siang. His quick and decisive action raised morale in the division while creating a positive culture of innovation and diligence.
Following a bout of corporate reorganisation, Behn Meyer Kimia Sdn Bhd was formed in 1993 by grouping both the Chemicals and Polymers divisions together as a separate company with operating departments. Shortly after two years, Hun Siang was promoted to Executive Director of the new entity. In this capacity, he navigated the new company through the tough waters of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. He bucked the market trend with consistently positive results and built momentum for further growth throughout the early 2000’s.
As the company as a whole experienced steady growth, Behn Meyer expanded in the 2001-2003 period as various individual companies were formed out of the operating divisions of Behn Meyer Kimia. Recognised for his consistently strong performance and leadership, Hun Siang was made the Managing Director of the new Behn Meyer Polymers Sdn Bhd in 2003. Leading the company from success to success, Hun Siang gained added responsibility when he was also made Managing Director of Behn Meyer Polymers Manufacturing in 2007 to take charge of the Chemical Dispersions and Plastics Compounding businesses. To safeguard on-going and vital businesses, Hun Siang made it an imperative for Behn Meyer to manufacture its own-brand products so as to avoid the risk of relying on dominant suppliers.
As Hun Siang delivered results year after year, his role has only grown with time. In 2012, the six operating companies within the Chemicals Group of Malaysia were restructured into Behn Meyer Chemicals (M) Sdn Bhd with Hun Siang taking the helm as Managing Director of the combined entity. Moreover, he was also given the role of CEO of Behn Meyer Specialty Chemicals LLP in Singapore.
Hun Siang says, “The success of the Company is grounded in the strong culture of teamwork and dedication from the staff at all levels together with the critical leadership and support from the board of directors and shareholders.”
As a business leader in the industry who has expanded Behn Meyer’s footprint globally, Hun Siang’s long tenure at Behn Meyer has seen the development of his career in tandem with the growth of the company’s operations in Malaysia and the region. In many ways, their journeys have been tied. It is perhaps only fitting then that by 1st November 2015, when Behn Meyer will be celebrating its 175th anniversary, a personal milestone will also have been reached for Hun Siang — he would have served the company faithfully for 35 years, a full one-fifth of Behn Meyer’s entire existence.