Becoming an entrepreneur was a seamless transition for one of Malaysia’s foremost pioneers in the local clinical diagnostics business, Adnan B. Mohd. Noh. After gaining the required knowledge and experience within the private sector and realising that he could contribute and achieve more on his own, Adnan became a trail blazer within the Bumiputera entrepreneurial community by setting up a clinical diagnosis solution provider called Utas Maju Sdn Bhd in 2003. The company has made its mark by growing into a million-dollar business that controls ten percent of the clinical diagnostics market. Extolling the virtues and potentials of local entrepreneurship, Utas Maju foresees good prospects within the industry in terms of revenue and in contribution towards the Malaysian health sector. The visionary managing director of Utas Maju Sdn Bhd recently talks to Top 10 of Malaysia about his trials and tribulations of being an entrepreneur, future business plans for the company and on the wider scope of other future undertakings.
Hailing from Malacca and armed with educational credentials in chemistry and economics, Adnan B.Mohd Noh, 50, started out as a sales executive managing clinical diagnostics businesses. “I ended up managing the business from A to Z and before long realised I had reached my limitations. I would have more leeway in determining my personal growth if there was a greater sense of ownership,” shares Adnan from his three-storey office building located within the affluent township of Ara Damansara.
The sole ownership start-up, Utas Maju Sdn Bhd, was initiated in 2003 with his own capital of fifty thousand ringgit, a two-million ringgit loan and eight employees which subsequently expanded into the Ara Damansara office with branches in Kota Bharu and Alor Setar. The company provides end-to-end clinical solutions with the inclusion of preliminary and post care. Its services considered one of the most comprehensive in the market has been certified by the Ministry of Health and the international certification and Audit Company Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS). Adnan also owns another company, Ara Gemilang that deals in industrial laboratories.
The main challenges in running the business are common ones prevalent within the Malaysian business scenario. “The current currency crisis has impacted the business as most of our transactions are conducted in US dollars while our customers demand pre-crisis prices. The second challenge we are facing is in acquiring skilled resources, able to work under a stressful environment,” Adnan reveals. “The currency crunch has to be taken care of through cost efficiencies while the skilled resource matter is a recurring challenge that has implications on expansionary plans.”
Coming from a middle-class family in Bandar Hilir, Adnan is married with three children – the oldest a doctor, another studying pharmacy and the youngest still schooling. His wife, a former accountant, is a housewife. The favourite family pastime is travelling, with Paris being his favourite international city. Turkey, another favourite destination, is on the agenda for the forthcoming annual employees’ trip.
Overall, Adnan believes that two principles have contributed towards his success in business. “Sacrifice to survive is a maxim that has been steadfastly practised by the first generation Chinese. The high level of perseverance and tenacity has led to the remarkable success of the community. I embody this principle in my work ethics and amongst my employees,” says Adnan. “The Chinese preference for freshness in food is another principle I follow as I believe the quality of food, in terms of freshness, has an impact on brain power.” Adnan makes a weekly routine trip to Kuala Selangor for fresh produce.
Adnan puts into practice his philosophy of giving back to society and it starts with his employees whom he treats as family members. Employees are well rewarded for their effort with generous bonuses and annual overseas trips, the latest to Brisbane, Australia.
There are also numerous charitable organisations where initiatives add value while providing employment to local youth, a notable one being the production of frozen local delicacies. Adnan emphasises there would be added value if the source products were grown by the company itself in the future.
There are future two-pronged plans related to agriculture – to develop Malaysian agricultural produce while providing employment. Adnan shows much excitement for the commercialisation of agricultural herbal plants such as Misai Kucing and Tongkat Ali that contained medicinal values. His favourite future project has to do with health tourism and Adnan envisages a health resort that is focused on the provision of health products sourced from the resort itself.
Looking at his achievements in spearheading entrepreneurial start-ups embodying the principles of sacrificing to survive and consuming quality fresh food, it is obvious that Adnan has undoubtedly made his mark. The many awards he has received, including Most Promising Entrepreneurship Award 2014, Super Health Brand 2014 and Top 100 SMEs for 2012, are testimonies to his remarkable success. With the same drive, energy and passion, future expansionary plans in manufacturing or in health tourism will invariably be nothing short of a success for Adnan.