Building resilience in the face of adversity

“We invest in resources, both in asset and human capital, as we believe in talent to drive the company forward in order to stay ahead of the curve,” says Kow.

PETALING JAYA: Despite anticipating another challenging year ahead with geopolitical issues, global oleochemical producer KLK Oleo remains cautiously optimistic about plans to explore new markets, specifically in the Latin America and African region, next year.

According to deputy chief executive officer Kow Tiat Yong, the company is determined to grow its export business by improving its marketing efforts in identified regions while enhancing marketing efforts in those areas.

“This year has been challenging globally. For us, there were strong headwinds that weakened both volumes and margins.

“Demand softened due to high inventory levels and destocking as well as other challenges including fierce competition from Indonesian players, interest rates hike, volatility in both currency exchange and raw material price.

“In addition, China’s economic recovery post-Covid-19 was below expectations and therefore not as anticipated, affecting export sales,” said Kow.

To ensure it remain successful, teamwork is key for the company.

“It is crucial for us to ensure we work together collaboratively and strategically across our export markets,” he said.

In addition, being part of a larger group has allowed it to leverage on vertical integration, thereby streamlining operations and ensuring a consistent supply throughout their supply chain, furthering KLK Oleo’s position as a trusted global partner in oleo-based products and solutions.

KLK Oleo is the manufacturing division of its parent company, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd (KLK), a leading international plantation group listed on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia.

It has integrated complexes located strategically in Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Europe, offering high quality, innovative and sustainable products and solutions that are used in diverse end-use applications from home and personal care, pharmaceuticals, food and nutrition, and flavours and fragrances to lubricants, polymers and industrial chemicals.

Last year, KLK Oleo won the Thriving in Adversity award at Star Media Group’s Export Excellence Awards (EEA) 2022.

For KLK Oleo, innovation and collaboration are crucial to ensure that they remain relevant and competitive, especially for a company with global presence.

Kow stresses the need to constantly explore new and innovative solutions to drive the change it needs for long-term success in an ever-evolving business landscape.

“Over the years, what we have learnt is that research and development is important, and that we need to constantly invest in it.

“Through this, we are able to expand the application of our product and reduce the dependency on a singular segment.”

Investing in talent is also key for the company as employees are their most important asset.

Kow said: “It is important for us to lead with good people who will be able to drive the company forward,” said Kow.

It is without a doubt that maintaining quality and customer satisfaction while cutting costs is difficult; KLK Oleo believes in focusing on manufacturing excellence and driving operational efficiency.

“With high levels of efficiency, this will lead to increased productivity, high plant reliability, reduced operational error and eliminate wastage.

“As a result, we are able to deliver high quality products and services to our customers’ satisfaction, while keeping our cost at optimal level. Therefore, high quality and optimum cost can be achieved simultaneously.

“Moreover, efficient processes will allow us to adapt and respond easily to challenges while still able to meet our targets,” said Kow.

In building the company’s resilience and growth, KLK Oleo believes in continuous improvement on all aspects of business activities that they engage in.

This includes continuous search for new ideas to help improve the process of delivering products and services to its customers, as innovation remains its core value.

The company also encourages and motivates employees to continuously improve efficiency and reduce wastage in their work.

“We invest in resources, both in asset and human capital, as we believe in talent to drive the company forward in order to stay ahead of the curve,” he said.

Submissions for the EEA 2023 are still open, with nominations closing on Oct 19.

The EEA 2023 is organised by Star Media Group in partnership with Standard Chartered Malaysia, and PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd as a co-sponsor, Malaysia External Trade Development Corp as patron, and Malaysia Digital Economy Corp as Technology Partner. It is audited by BDO.

For more information on EEA 2023, go to, WhatsApp 010-388 3742, or email

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