|Engineer-by-training William Yang prefers the road less travelled.
For the Chief Executive of Medtecs International Corporation, consciously choosing not to conform to prevailing norms or accept the status quo has made all the difference in his life, and to the fortunes of the SGX-listed personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturer.
“We need to challenge and re-assess the status quo from time to time, in order for the human race to progress in a meaningful way,” Yang pointed out. “The same goes for any business.”
After graduating from the New York Institute of Technology with a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2005, Yang returned to Taiwan to join Medtecs, a company that his father - a textile industry veteran - had founded in 1989 to manufacture hospital garments.
He learned the ropes by starting off as an Executive Assistant to his father - Medtecs Executive Chairman Clement Yang - before moving between roles, departments and companies within the Group over the next decade. A feather in his cap was his successful overhaul and turnaround of the Group’s then loss-making Shanghai subsidiary.
Yang was appointed to succeed his father as Chief Executive Officer in 2018, and was named the Group’s Deputy Chairman in February this year.
“My engineering background trained me to be analytical and inquisitive at the same time,” he recalled. “This honed my ability to look at problems from multiple angles in order to come up with the best solutions.”
Today, Medtecs is a leading PPE and hospital services provider, with manufacturing facilities in the Philippines, Cambodia and China. The Group is a key supplier to global PPE companies, and exports to over 30 countries, including Europe, US, Southeast Asia, North Asia and Australia.
As a hospital services provider, Medtecs provides hospitals in Taiwan and the Philippines with integrated services that include rental and laundry of linens, management of laundry facilities, hospital automation, as well as procurement solutions for PPE and medical devices needs.
The Group was listed on the then Sesdaq board in 1999 and transitioned to SGX Catalist in 2010. Its Taiwan Depository Receipts (TDRs) have been listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE) since 2002.
Yang attributes Medtecs’ success to its “Source and Sell Globally” strategy that provides one-stop, bundled services to meet client demand by supplementing existing sources with those from third-party vendors in a variety of locations.
“Medtecs had the foresight to expand its network of suppliers four years ago. As a result, when COVID-19 disrupted supply chains, we didn’t need to waste time and resources validating new suppliers, because we already had a long list of trustworthy names to meet the increased demand,” he explained.
|“When order volumes surged, we scaled up quickly and still managed to deliver on time during the peak of the global pandemic. This has spurred the Group’s transformation from a medical consumables manufacturer into an integrated multi-national PPE solutions provider with one-stop-shop capability.”
As a testament to its achievements, Medtecs reported record revenue and net profit for its financial year ended 31 December 2020. Total revenue jumped nearly six-fold to US$400.3 million on the back of a global surge in demand for PPE following COVID-19, while net profit soared to US$131.7 million from US$1.2 million a year earlier.
Looking ahead, Medtecs will continue to focus on rolling out proprietary products to meet customer needs. It already produces its own CoverU brand of PPE products. This year, it launched Medtecs Shield, a new line of antiviral offerings that includes masks, mobile phone cases and sprays, all of which are integrated with nanotechnologies that can kill viruses and bacteria.
“We believe these products are essential for everyone, not just healthcare workers, in the current pandemic environment,” Yang added.
Apart from offline channels like convenience shops and department stores, the Group also leverages major e-commerce sites such as Alibaba and Amazon to sell its PPE range.
|“We’re also looking to set up distribution channels across North America, Japan and Europe to extend the reach of our products.”
Fortifying Its Position
While demand remains robust, challenges loom, not the least of which are the US-China trade spat and the ongoing pandemic, Yang pointed out.
“US-China trade tensions continue to threaten a supply chain that is already weakened by COVID-19, and in order to mitigate the impact, Medtecs will continue to work with like-minded partners to tap synergies,” he added.
The Group has established a series of strategic partnerships in recent months to ensure its supply chains remain protected and undisrupted.
To deliver sustainable business growth, Medtecs has doubled up on its engagements with group purchasing organisations, institutional clients and government agencies to offer its PPE stockpiling services. As a result, it has secured several supply contracts in the Philippines and Cambodia for the first quarter ended 31 March 2021.
“We’ve started site selection for the construction of an additional PPE manufacturing facility to fortify our position as a leading PPE stockpiling provider,” Yang noted.
“We’re also focused on expanding our retail business through our Medtecs-branded products, as well as leveraging e-commerce to widen our customer reach and build brand awareness.”
According to a recently published report by Research Dive, the global PPE market was valued at US$43.9 billion in 2018 and is anticipated to surge to US$93.5 billion by 2026, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10%. Currently, the market is worth approximately US$51.8 billion, as demand continues to rise.
Apart from adopting multiple countermeasures to ensure business continuity and boost sales, Medtecs has also identified new Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) factors to manage. They include quality control, product labelling and responsibility, labour relations, employee training, as well as waste management.
Reducing PPE Waste
“One of the challenges we faced recently in implementing our ESG strategy was how to strike the right balance between protecting people from COVID-19 and conserving the environment,” Yang noted.
To minimise the environmental impact associated with high volumes of single-use PPE due to the on-going pandemic, Medtecs’s R&D team began working with partners and experimenting with different materials to create solutions to reduce PPE waste.
“As a result, we developed the Weekly Disposable Anti-Viral Masks as part of our Medtecs Shield Collection. These masks can be worn up to seven days, odour-free, which allows wearers to simultaneously protect themselves from pathogens while caring for the environment through reduced wastage.”
Undoubtedly, there is much to keep Yang up till the wee hours. “To be honest, I have not slept well since the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020,” he admitted.
“Back in April last year, when the pandemic was nearing its peak, there was a severe global shortage of PPE and we were inundated with thousands of requests for our products from all over the world,” he recalled.
“I worked super long hours, but couldn’t fall asleep when it was time for bed because the images of frontline workers wearing makeshift PPE, or none at all, haunted me. I would lie in bed thinking of ways to mobilise our resources and manpower, to get as many of these critical protective gear into our customers’ hands in as short a time as possible.”
|To de-stress, the 39-year-old plays Go or weiqi - a Chinese abstract strategy board game - with his sons, aged six and eight.
“I’ve been playing Go since I was six - it’s a life-long passion of mine. It’s like an exercise for the brain, but at the same time, it takes my mind off work, so I feel more relaxed,” he said with a laugh.
For his children, he has this advice: “Dream big, dream bold, and never settle for less than what you deserve”.
“I’m not what you might call a tiger or a helicopter parent. In fact, I’m hands off when it comes to their school work, and I don’t demand perfect scores,” he said.
“But I always emphasise the importance of believing in yourself and giving your best in whatever you do. If you fail at something, but you’ve already given 100%, then you’re good in my book.”
Medtecs International Corporation Ltd
Medtecs is a leading personal protective equipment (PPE) and hospital services provider, with manufacturing facilities in the Philippines, Cambodia and China. The Group is a key supplier to global PPE companies, and exports to over 30 countries, including Europe, US, Southeast Asia, North Asia and Australia. As a hospital services provider, Medtecs provides hospitals in Taiwan and the Philippines with integrated services that include rental and laundry of linens, management of laundry facilities, hospital automation, as well as procurement solutions for PPE and medical devices needs. The Group was listed on the then Sesdaq board in 1999 and transitioned to SGX Catalist in 2010. Its Taiwan Depository Receipts (TDRs) have been listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE) since 2002.
The company website is: www.medtecs.com
Click here for the company's StockFacts page.
For the six months ended 30 June 2021 financial results, click here.
About kopi-C: the Company brew
Text: Jennifer Tan-Stanisic
Photo: Company file
This article was originally published in kopi-C, a regular column on the SGX Research website that features C-level executives of leading companies listed on Singapore Exchange. These interviews are profiles of senior management aimed at helping investors better understand the individuals who run these corporations.
For previous editions of kopi-C: the Company brew, please click here.