Making It Big On A Niche Expertise

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Taking much pride in his wealth of experience spanning three decades in the field of architecture, landscape architecture and planning, he finds great satisfaction in beautifying and sustaining the environment. In a recent interview with Abdul Wahab Bin Khalid, founder and Managing Director of Menawar Resources Sdn Bhd, Top 10 of Malaysia learns about his story of how it all started, of his company’s progress and his future plans for Menawar Resources.

Abdul Wahab Khalid always knew he belonged in a practical industry but it was not until after school that he discovered his true passion. “At that time, there were no foreign workers,” he recalls. Thus, he took on the job of a highway construction labourer for the better pay. “Better pay but hard work,” he stresses.

Then, his life took an unexpected direction. He observed that his supervisors were constantly unravelling and checking plans. “I didn’t understand what it was. I was sort of ‘jealous’ and wanted to learn more about it,” explains Abdul Wahab. Driven by a burning desire, he decided to enrol in landscape courses at Institut Kemahiran MARA. Upon the completion of his course in Building Architecture, he landed a job as a landscape consultant. His first involvements were in design proposal for Padang Hiliran, Kuala Terengganu Project and Bukit Cerakah, Shah Alam.

Eventually, he had his hands full with various major projects ranging from building a township at a deserted land and supervising the implementation of equipment and landscaping for theme parks, to being a project manager for the landscaping of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Residence. Having gained sufficient experience over time with giants like Sunway City, World Equipment and Peremba Nursery, Abdul Wahab eventually pursued his own goals through his own company, Menawar Resources Sdn Bhd in 2005. The Perak-born entrepreneur explains that he drew inspiration from his hometown, Malim Nawar for the name ‘Menawar’.

“I started off with clients I know,” Abdul Wahab shares. The first project for Menawar was to maintain the landscaping of Alamanda Shopping Centre in Putrajaya. Nonetheless, his quest in building an empire was far from a walk in the park. “I didn’t even have my own car at the time,” he says with a laugh, adding that he had been cheated too. Despite incurring a loss of RM900,000 and not receiving due payment, he did not cry over spilt milk. Abdul Wahab’s spirit never wavered and he credits his wife as his biggest support system. He took the incident as a lesson to be learnt and as a stepping stone to success.

Like a tenderly nurtured flower, Menawar Resources has bloomed under Abdul Wahab’s extraordinary care. Working with big industry players such as UEM Sunrise Development, Laman Glenmarie Development and Sepang International Circuit, the Royal FLORIA Putrajaya was one of their biggest feats as they were part of the festival since its inception. Ultimately, flower shows like the Eco World Flower Show became their niche.

Whilst he is happy with the progress, Abdul Wahab is not content. “I want my company to be a one-stop centre someday, to be the go-to place complete with in-house nurseries and everything you need,” he states, adding that in order to balance his busy work schedule and personal life, his weekends are reserved for quality time with family.

As a leader, he reveals that he is flexible but is not one to spoon-feed. “You can come in or go back at any time as long as the work is properly done.  My bosses before never gave me ideas. I had to think of solutions to problems on my own,” Abdul Wahab shares, believing that this method ignites the creativity in his staff. “But if they’re really stuck, I will provide guidance,” he adds.

His two cents worth to those seeking success via entrepreneurship is simple. Taking Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, the richest Bumiputera corporate figure in Malaysia as his idol, Abdul Wahab advises, “Know your expertise and get involved in the business you have the skills in.” “Perseverance is also vital to keep you going,” he adds. “Be hungry but don’t be greedy,” says Abdul Wahab as he borrows a positive phrase from Dato’ Sri Mustaffa Abd Rahman, CEO of AMP Corporation (M) Sdn Bhd.