In the fiercely competitive landscape of Malaysia's automotive industry, sustaining a consistent and expanding order book is a formidable challenge. With numerous competitors and the relentless march of technology shaping consumer demands, success demands unwavering commitment, innovation, resilience, and substantial investment in the face of price competitiveness versus quality and pace.
In an exclusive interview, Mr. Hairul Mubarak, Co-founder and CEO of Victorious Steps Sdn Bhd, provides valuable insights into the entrepreneurial journey within the automotive sector and shares his strategic vision for the company's future.
A Journey Unveiled: From 2004 to Industry Prominence
Victorious Steps, founded in 2004, has evolved into a key player in the automotive injection molding and parts sector, boasting one of Malaysia's largest motor brands as its clients. Hairul shares the challenges and triumphs of having such a major client, emphasizing how both clients and his dedicated team serve as constant motivators in his role as a leader.
Founding Inspiration: Tracing the Genesis
During Hairul's earlier working days, he worked with a company that was a vendor to Perodua and Proton as a Business Development Executive. It was during his time here that he was exposed to the automotive business and identified a bundle of possible opportunities in this market. Witnessing various vendors going public on the KLSE over time sparked an ambition in Hairul to start a flagship of his own. So, Hairul and his partner, Mr. Ismail B Ibrahim, founded Victorious Steps Sdn Bhd in 2004 as a small business producing plastic molds for the automotive market.
Strategic Evolution: Government Recognition and Turning Point
Over the years following the establishment of the company, Hairul and his partner consistently dedicated themselves to developing more stringent Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), refining processes, and achieving faster delivery times for their clients. Their hard work came to fruition in 2017 when the company successfully secured a vendor position with Malaysia’s largest motor brand – Proton.
Before the success of this major contract, Victorious Steps had earned a spot in the Top 10 and underwent a transformative experience in Japan through the Lean Production System. “This marked a crucial turning point for us, garnering recognition and serving as an eye-opener for our clients. They began acknowledging our efforts by awarding us multiple projects. The more appreciation and awards we received from government agencies, the greater the influx of projects from our clients.”
Victorious Steps recognized that these achievements were significant milestones for their organization, affording the company more opportunities to provide additional products and parts for their clients. This became evident after the organizational improvements that were implemented in 2017, resulting in a surge of projects from the Company’s clients in 2019.
“This transformative period had a tremendous impact, with our sales skyrocketing by 500 times compared to the initial figures. To this day, our projects continue to thrive, and we remain committed to garnering further recognition,” commented Mr. Hairul.
The year 2017 indeed marked a transformative period for Victorious Steps, particularly with the inclusion such prominent brands in the company’s client portfolio. Acknowledging the necessity for strategic realignment, the company actively pursued certifications and sought recognition from government agencies. This pivotal decision not only established them as a trusted player in the market but also propelled their sales to unprecedented heights.
In 2021, Victorious Steps successfully secured a contract with Perodua – together with Proton, this further solidified Victorious Steps capabilities in delivering top-notch products. Each order from these Malaysian motor giants adheres to stringent deadlines and undergoes rigorous quality checks. The consequences for any delay in the order are tied to hefty fines which leaves no room for errors and ensuring an uninterrupted production line at Victorious Steps.
Furthermore, with the current global market requirements in play, the implementation of ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) practices has proven instrumental in sustaining the company's business. Victorious Steps adheres to long-established SOPs that comprehensively cover ESG markers, ensuring compliance with contemporary global standards.
Embracing Technological Advancements: Innovating for Tomorrow
"Victorious Steps produces plastic components. Before this, we used a manual process and began innovating the process from manual to mechanics and from mechanics to utilizing the latest technology such as robotics."
In response to the rapid technological evolution in the automotive industry, Victorious Steps is steadfast in maintaining a strong position by harnessing cutting-edge technology and AI. The shift from manual processes to state-of-the-art technologies like robotics underscores the company's dedication to staying at the forefront. Recently, the company has made investments in an AI robotic machine, not only increasing the speed of its production line but also elevating the accuracy and quality of its products. This integration of technology not only bolsters efficiency but also positions Victorious Steps competitively in a swiftly evolving market.
Beyond staying ahead in technological advancements, Victorious Steps prioritizes the quality of every order output, enforcing a meticulous multi-stage quality check at the end of its production line before the products are packed and delivered to clients.
Leadership Philosophy: Adaptive, Empowering, and Guided by Core Values
When asked about his leadership style, company cultures, and principles - Mr. Hairul openly shared his adaptive leadership philosophy, emphasizing the importance of empowering staff to meet organizational objectives.
“I believe that I am a leader by example. I like to show my team how things should be done. Like a walk-the-talk kind of thing,” smiles Mr. Hairul.
He sees challenges as opportunities. Recognizing the evolving nature of business, Mr. Hairul notes the shift in his leadership style over time, especially becoming more inclusive of staff in decision-making processes.
Victorious Steps operates with five core values: virtue, synergy, empowerment, patience, and tenacity. These values are integral to the organizational culture, emphasizing ethical business practices, teamwork, staff empowerment, patience in work, and tenacity in overcoming challenges.
Charting a Global Course: Victorious Steps' Vision for Future Expansion
"We aim to penetrate not only the Malaysian market but also overseas markets. The strategy is to supply components to global giants like Honda and Toyota, positioning us as a global player in the automotive sector."
As Victorious Steps looks toward the future, its vision transcends local triumphs. With a strategic focus on entering international markets, the company envisions supplying components to global automotive leaders such as Honda and Toyota. This ambitious vision propels Victorious Steps towards emerging as a recognized global player in the automotive sector.
In conclusion, Victorious Steps' journey from its inception to its present standing unfolds as a story of resilience, strategic evolution, and an unwavering commitment to technological excellence. As the company adeptly manoeuvres through the ever-changing automotive landscape, it not only serves as an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs but also stands as an example of success in the relentless pursuit of excellence.