PETALING JAYA: It’s a busy time for AME Elite Consortium Bhd, as the integrated industrial property solutions provider has just listed on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia.
The niche integrated construction player, which has been in the news constantly since announcing its proposed initial public offering in mid-September, saw its new shares to the public being oversubscribed by more than four times.
Little, however, is known about the company before it stepped into the spotlight this year, since its activities had been almost exclusively focused on its homeground of Johor.
According to AME group managing director Kelvin Lee Chai, the company started off in 1995 as a small scale main contractor to provide local and international clients with design-and-build for industrial spaces.
“We took note of customers’ industry-specific requirements and witnessed them undergoing the process of setting up and settling in, including making the administrative regulatory paperwork and so on.
“Oftentimes, they would share with us the progress and inherent frustrations, while all the time racing against the clock! It was a very stressful time for them, ” he reminisces.
This then sparked the idea for AME to develop a full-service industrial park, which would also benefit from dedicated management services, including aspects such as recreational spaces for employees to the provision of safe, secure and conducive workers’ accommodation to promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
He said, “In a way, developing industrial parks was a natural progression for AME. though we took the risk early on, it was well worth it, because today we are globally recognised for these parks.”
Thus far, AME has built three industrial parks, including i-Park @ SiLC and i-Park @ Indahpura and i-Park @ Senai Airport City.
When the company launched the first two i-Parks, some of its main challenges were due to the scale of the projects and the newly introduced concept.
“It was a much larger-scale undertaking compared to being the building contractor. We also had to change the customers’ mindset to accept a new industrial development concept and convince the local authorities to approve a gated and guarded model, ” he noted.
Acquiring suitable land and adequate funding were also challenging, as the development projects were capital intensive. However, the company pulled through by relying on its core competency.
Lee explained, “Being equipped with our full scale of services and based on our constant interaction with industrial players, we knew their requirements and were able to purpose-build i-Park to fit accordingly; ensuring good security, employee wellness and welfare and beautiful landscaping to promote a pleasing work environment.”
Along the way, it also faced challenges common to any growing corporation, including building up its brand and reputation, as well as retaining good talent and managing operational issues.
It was because the management ‘took a very hands-on approach’ in running the business since its inception that it could resolve such issues. He cited aspects such as leadership, excellence and a customer-centric approach that need to start at the top level to set the tone for the company’s future.
Besides its three i-Parks, AME also has SME City. A joint development with Axis IE Sdn Bhd under a joint venture company called Axis AME IP Sdn Bhd, the project was hatched in 2013 to target Singaporean SMEs looking at relocating operations to Iskandar Malaysia, in addition to enterprising Malaysian SMEs.
“SME City became the stepping stone for us to grow alongside these SMEs and eventually ‘graduate’ to the big league, ” he shared, adding that the JV partnership goes beyond SME City and includes the ongoing development of i-Park @ Indahpura’s third phase.
On growth prospects, the company’s objective is to acquire land in Peninsular Malaysia to replicate its i-Parks.
Lee also pointed to AME’s multi-pronged IPO that raised proceeds to expand and enhance its current Johor parks, expand its precast concrete fabrication plant capacity and potentially extend its presence beyond Johor.
He said: “These initiatives, by themselves, are quite substantial, so we will focus on them in the meantime.
“Growth is good, but must be measured; that is how we have thrived in the past 24 years.”