The Star Malaysia - StarBiz

10.KUAN KAM HON AND FAMILY Flagship: Hartalega Holdings Bhd Net worth: RM10.86bil


THE founder of Hartalega, Kuan Kam Hon, is a self-made man. Seeing the opportunit­y that synthetic gloves can have in terms of combating the protein allergy issue from latex gloves, he developed a type of rubber glove called the nitrile glove. There was much scepticism on how he would invoke a shift in demand to the type of gloves he was producing, but today, Hartalega is the largest glove company in the world by market capitalisa­tion.

Kuan’s Hartalega is today the world’s largest nitrile glove company capable of making 30 billion glove pieces a year. His attention to productivi­ty and technology means he uses far fewer production lines to produce his gloves, which in turn gives him superior profit margins compared with his competitor­s.

Hartalega operates from two main sites: five plants in Bestari Jaya spanning 37 acres and seven plants in Sepang called the Hartalega NextGenera­tion Complex compassing 12 acres. They have 127 production lines in total that are designed in-house, custom built and have cutting-edge technologi­es to serve the global market with speed, efficiency and quality.

The next-generation plan in Sepang will also see the final plant seven being built soon, following the commission­ing of plant six. Once the latest plant is up and running, Hartalega will have a combined production capacity of 44.6 billion pieces a year.

But for Kuan, his company is working on the next generation of gloves that may have a bigger impact than the nitrile gloves. Hartalega has launched its latest innovation, the world’s first non-leaching antimicrob­ial glove. The glove will help reduce the incidences of healthcare-associated infections in hospitals, which until today, is a big problem for medical practition­ers.

While overcapaci­ty in the rubber gloves business, weakening US dollar against the ringgit, lower barriers of entry, and higher raw material and labour costs are issues for the industry, Hartalega’s production process is said to be different than others.

Its use of more technology gives it higher margins and lower labour costs. Furthermor­e, its new antimicrob­ial gloves is in the process of meeting internatio­nal approvals that would be a huge game changer for the company and also the industry.

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