PERSONALITY: Building the SsangYong dream


MENTION SsangYong and one person springs to mind. He is Muhammad Fadhil Ahmad, managing director of Competitive Supreme Sdn Bhd (CSSB), the sole importer and distributor of SsangYong vehicles in Malaysia.

MENTION SsangYong and one person springs to mind. He is Muhammad Fadhil Ahmad, managing director of Competitive Supreme Sdn Bhd (CSSB), the sole importer and distributor of SsangYong vehicles in Malaysia.

He has led a small but dedicated team of company personnel who have been sterling in turning a relatively unknown South Korean brand into a household name in this country within a short period of time.

We caught up with the man recently to find out CSSB’s recipe for success. In this first of two question-and-answer instalments, we asked him on how it all started, among other things.


Q: Are you happy with, or surprised by the achievements to date?


A: I am not really surprised actually. It is all about teamwork. This team that I speak of has achieved so much in such a short span of time, 3 years and 3 months to be exact.

They have managed in that time to turn the SsangYong brand around.

SsangYong and Competitive Supreme have become household names in Malaysia and the brand now carries a great amount of respect. Not just from the public, but from other players in the motor industry as well.

The team has also garnered numerous awards during this time. The Rexton was voted the (NST Mastercard) SUV of the year 2004, and successfully defended its title by winning again this year! The Stavic was a finalist in the MPV segment.

And Competitive Supreme won the Best International Marketing Practices award 2004 from our principals SsangYong Motor Company of Korea where we were up against all of their importers from across the globe.

 We have also presented “The Malaysian Success Story” to all of their importers from around the globe and given motivational talks to them in 2004 and 2005 during their annual dealers’ conference. This speaks volumes about our principals’ confidence in us as their partner for Malaysia.


Q: When CSSB first started, did you think it would achieve what it has achieved today? Was the target more modest then?


A: When we were awarded the franchise in December 2002, our first focus was to set up our headquarters in Petaling Jaya. This would be a place for SsangYong owners to call home.

My criteria was that the building had to provide:

a) Efficient after sales service for at least 30 vehicles per day.

b) Storage for six months stock of spare parts.

c) A pre-delivery and new vehicle storage area for 100 cars at any one time.

d) A large showroom area where we could showcase our products.

e) A convenient location.

My general manager and I had been looking at suitable premises and managed to secure the current CSSB’s HQ in PJ a week after we secured the agreement from our principals.

Construction started almost immediately and we were designing the building as it was being built. This wasn't the ideal situation but we really had no choice.

By May 2003 we were fully operational and the first Rextons were arriving in Malaysia.

We then started to showcase the vehicle to potential dealers and customers. This was make or break for us as their opinions would mean the success or failure of this venture.

Everyday more and more people thronged the showroom. When they asked if we could provide proper servicing and warranties, we didn't answer.

Instead we showed them our workshop. They immediately knew that we were serious about our business and that we were here to stay. Our initial order of 30 cars was far from enough and our orders rose to 100 units a month almost immediately.

We have never stopped investing in the brand and customer convenience. We went on to open regional sales, service and parts centres in Johor, Penang, Miri, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur. These centres are necessary to meet our customers’ needs as well as complementing our sales and service dealers network throughout the country.

I truly believed all along that we would succeed, but knew it would never be easy. This is a business that requires supervision and strategic planning on a daily basis.

We are still a little modest in our growth plans as we must ensure that we are able to provide a high level of service to each and every customer.


Q. How has the general perception among Malaysians of South Korean vehicles and the SsangYong brand in particular changed over the years?


A: Malaysians are very aware of and receptive to Korean brands. From plasma screens to mobile telephones, we can find Korean brands within the top three.

We have positioned SsangYong as the Luxury Recreational Vehicle Manufacturer as that really is what SsangYong is. I am confident to say that this has generally been accepted.


Q. Do you have any regrets since your first day at CSSB?


A: I really don't have any regrets. We have done all that we can to ensure that we did the best for the brand and our customers. We never look back. If something goes wrong, we look for the best solution, implement the changes and move on.

- Source from Malay Mail (Dec 10, 2005) -