Interview with Christopher Teng of Access Holdings International

Q: Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself (personally and professionally)?
A: I arrived in Australia from Malaysia in the 1970’s as a high school student, graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the Adelaide University and then went on to finish a Master of Engineering Science and a Master of Business Administration.

After graduation I worked as a Mechanical Engineer with the South Australian Brewing Company and upon completion of MBA (part time studies), I was given the opportunity to move to a management position as head of Corporate Planning for the brewery.

After 20 years in various management positions I started Access Holdings International om Australia and AHI (China) Limited to supply the vertical access equipment market.

Q: How did you get started in this business?
A: After working in the EWP industry for nearly two years, it was clear to me that there was a cost issue for suppliers trying to manufacture the vertical access products in a country like the US or Australia. An opportunity emerged in 2003 when we formed a small team of four shareholders to work on setting up an assembly plant in China. Beijing was chosen with the view of its lower cost then and the potential to tap the 2008 Olympic Games market.

In the first 3 years, pressure was felt due to working capital demand as the company embarked on a continuous string of exhibitions to make known the Up-Lift brand name. A clear understanding of the strategic direction of the company gave me confidence to continue and brought the company step by step towards growth and profitability.

Up-Lift was registered as the Australian trade mark for the initial sliding rail UG and central mast UE man lift range. This was subsequently expanded with the registration of a second trade-mark called Quick Lift to cover the small mini-scissor ladder replacement UB/UBM products.

Today, the company distributes to more than 45 countries and supplies more than 35 models of vertical access platform products.

Q: Can you describe your customers / what type of customers do you have?
A: The man lift products supplied by AHI have a large and relatively diversified range of customers. These include facilities managers, OH&S professionals, quality hotel property managers, cleaning company owners and rental companies.

Specific usage sites includes schools, universities, sports stadiums, theatres, main halls, concert halls, exhibition halls, conference centres, office blocks, departmental stores, supermarkets, airports, sub-ways, hospitals, factories, warehouses, advertising billboard companies, signage, decorating, cleaning, as well as other special maintenance requirements.

Q: What are some of your “keys to success” in building your customer base?

  1. Ability to supply high quality, innovative and custom made products at a competitive price.
  2. Understand customer’s problems and what they areas require our support. For example, our HK distributor requires local compliance and we are able to supply these special features to meet their customer needs.
  3. Product differentiation with competitors. It is important that we do not supply another me-too type product as this makes it difficult for your distributor to sell in a competitive market.For example, AHI’s laser position locator provides time-saving convenience to the user of the man lifts to position the machine to allow the platform to reach the work target. Amazingly we even sold this to competitors’ distributors.
  4. Safety compliance with the latest International and CE standards. Being safety related product, this is important to alleviate any safety concern, something the company cannot afford to take risks. All AHI products complies with the latest CE standards EN280: 2013 and Australian standards AS1418.10 applicable to elevating work platforms.

Q: Is there anything about your business that you feel makes it special?
A: At least three aspects come to mind:

  1. Product customisation. Ability to customise products is something which differentiates AHI against our competitors. This is the very reason why early this year, AHI won the tender against all the long established international players to supply the prestigious Sydney Opera House vertical access lifts. These lifts were used in their concert hall, drama theatres and auditoriums.
  2. Product quality. AHI takes prides in the quality of its man lift products. The company’s ISO9001 continuous quality improvement system ensures that the product quality undergoes continuous improvement in standards and management systems. The company is serious with the safety standards of its products and benchmark its quality against the very best in the industry.
  3. Distributor support. The appointment of a single pro-active local distributor in each country. Distributor feedbacks on product improvement ideas are studied carefully with positive changes implemented.

Q: Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? In the next ten years?
A: In the last 10 years, AHI has grown in volume from its low base at a CAGR of more than 25{bfa08a400c7550404055ff04715e84c9172815d33c25eb3b84e230636ecdc007} per annum. Our aim is to achieve a target of more than 1000 annual sales units within the coming 3 years.

In the August sales conference, we announced the strategies for 2017 and beyond with proposals for new products to be launched.

The new products proposed includes the ULT series of lighting towers, which utilises our existing vertical lift technology. In addition, a self-propelled version of the UG products, the UGM series is being developed over the coming year and will strengthen our existing self-propelled range.

These along with non-standard products requested by distributors and rental companies will enhanced our sales opportunities in 2017 and provide continuous growth for the next 5 years.

Christopher Teng

Christopher Teng
Chief Executive Officer
Access Holdings International
No.11 7-9 Percy Street
Auburn, NSW 2144
P: +1300 220 500
T: +612-97495686
F: +612-97495683