Rainwater harvesting the next step for water filtration system provider


FOR the Chinese, shui (water) means fortune and that is what the Selangor-based BacFree Group of Companies business is all about.

The business started with Bacteria Free Water Filters Sdn Bhd founded by an ex-Royal Malaysian Air Force aircraft engineer Chee Sze Hsien in 1982.

With its headquarters in Subang Jaya, the company is the sole distributor of the British water filtration technology under the brand name BacFree in Malaysia.

The brand is currently a leader in commercial-premises water filtration systems, with between 30% and 40% market share.

The projects in the central region that use its water filtration systems include Astro’s headquarters, Pavillion shopping mall, Bank Negara, Sirim Malaysia, and Inti College University, among many others throughout the country.

Having positioned itself as the leading water filtration system provider in Malaysia, the company decided to take on rainwater harvesting systems in 2007.

“It is only natural for us to go into the water-related business as this is something which is close to our hearts,’’ BacFree technical director Dr Chee Chung Yee told MetroBiz.

He said this at the opening of the company’s Johor Baru branch office at Taman Perling which is the second branch after Penang. Chee said the new branch would serve the Johor and Malacca markets, adding that its business in Johor has been encouraging, with sales hitting RM2mil the last two years. Johor contribute about 10% of overall sales in Malaysia of around RM20mil a year.

“Johor offers good growth prospects for us especially with Iskandar Malaysia developing and progressing well, attracting domestic and foreign investors,’’ he said.

Chee, 38, said the influx of investors including property developers would create demand for water filtration and rainwater harvesting systems.

Chee, who graduated in 1998 from the medical faculty, University of Western Ontario, Canada, is the son of the company’s founder Chee Sze Hsien.

In 2007, Chee introduced rainwater harvesting systems into the company anticipating good growth prospect as “it was something new in the market”.

However, things did not work out well for the company, as the new business segment did not pick up as expected earlier and the company’s new unit saw zero growth in its first two years.

“Initially, it was rather hard to convince Malaysians to practice rainwater harvesting as they did not see the need for it,’’ he said.

Only in 2009 did the new business segment start to pick up and it now hits between 30% and 50% growth yearly.

He attributes the growth to people who are becoming more environmentally friendly and wanted to play their part to protect the environment.

Chee said the segment received a shot in the arm last year when several state governments made it compulsory for buildings to have rainwater harvesting systems.

From 2012, commercial and industrial buildings, semi-detached houses and bungalows are required to include the system in their building plan.

To date, the Federal Territory, Johor, Kelantan, Malacca, Perak and Selangor have directed building owners to install the system under their uniform building by-laws.

“The remaining state governments are likely to follow suit and the move will help our rainwater harvesting business to grow,’’ he said.

Chee added that the growing trend of green buildings and sustainability also contributed to more property developers embracing green features which include rainwater harvesting systems.

“Contrary to popular belief, it is not that expensive to install a rainwater harvesting system and we want to change the perception,’ he said.

Chee said it costs between RM2,000 and RM8,000 to install the system in residential properties and between RM20,000 to RM500,000 for commercial buildings.

He said that building owners should look at the long term benefits as they could save on their water bills and the same help to conserve water.

Dr Chee said there were less than 10 companies offering the rainwater harvesting system in the country adding the company was the leader in the rainwater harvesting system segment.

“We offer end-to-end comprehensive water engineering solutions, that’s what differentiates us from our competitors and we also have a wide portfolio of clients,’’ he added.

As a one-stop centre, the company involves in the engineering aspect, product design, installation, testing, commissioning and after sales service.

Dr Chee said its proven track record in the water filtration business for 31 years and the rainwater harvesting segment since 2007, would help the company to further expand its clientele base.

He said the company would be expanding its operations to Sabah and Sarawak and set up distribution offices in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

For more information please visit BacFree website at www.bacfree.com.my, www.rainwaterharvesting.com.my or e-mail: drchee@bacfree.com.my

Among the projects which have the company’s rainwater harvesting system installed at their premises are Southgate Sungai Besi, StarPac Setapak, Nadayu 28 Condominium sales gallery, Menara Mudajaya, The Light Water Front Penang and One Coral Way Manila.

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