Business Profiles

DMIA: A new Malaysia

Malaysia is committed to pushing for new heights of excellence, and that commitment is shared by Dhaya Maju Infrastructure Asia (DMIA). We spoke with Datuk Seri, one of the co-founders of DMIA, about the already well-established company’s exciting up and coming potential in the growing Asian market.

Datuk has worked in construction within Malaysia for 25 years, and 22 of those years have been with DMIA, a company he founded with three partners. “We started out as a small construction company, and today, we directly employ about 600 – 650 people, and indirectly an additional 500.” With over two decades behind them, the company is one with a firm foundation and a well-practiced way of operating, and yet, it isn’t too set in its ways. 2019 is a time of growth and change for the company, in no small part because the Asian market is seeing a developmental boom. The region in general is flourishing, and DMIA’s home country of Malaysia is no exception. May 2018 saw the first change in Malaysia’s government in over 60 years, which suggests the gravity of the impact that this recent change has made. The new government has placed an emphasis on development, and this push towards the future means fruitful prospects for all involved, but especially for companies working in construction. For DMIA, the country is already a familiar and well-established market, so this push can only mean good things; “Malaysia, we know very well; we have a long history. It’s a very stable country. We have new leadership now, and I think, so far, they’re doing a good job. They’re driving the country to the next evolution.”

However, it is not fortuitous placement alone that has set DMIA to benefit from these wider developments. The company is also uniquely set to make the most of some of the opportunities that are rising – in particular, in railways. “We are specialists in laying railway tracks. In fact, we are the only company in Asia or Southeast Asia that owns a complete set of equipment dedicated to railway construction.” As well as possessing expertise and “technical know-how”, as Datuk often calls it, the company also works closely with further experts to ensure that everything they do is safe and of a high standard. For example, they frequently work with Metacos Group of Companies, innovative leaders in the fields of metallurgical testing and consultancy. The company has also invested heavily in high-quality machinery to give it the advantage in tackling this type of work. “We invested almost a $100m in machinery and specialised equipment. With this, I think we are set over others in Asia.” Some of the machines in their line-up include S2PV machines, which remove and relay tracks seamlessly. Their equipment even includes imports from Germany that, as far as Datuk is aware, aren’t owned by any other companies in Asia.

This heavy investment was well chosen, as railways are a key part of the development taking off across Asia; “Currently, railways are a main focus for us due to the expansion in Malaysia, and we also want to expand this regionally in Southeast Asian countries, where the railway is growing quite fast.” The company is looking at Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines as potential areas to branch into, thanks to interest they have had from foreign multinationals who are considering partnership with the company, although these talks are still ongoing (set to conclude towards the end of this year). However, DMIA has its current focal points: “We are looking at regionally expanding into other Asian countries, but I would say that Malaysia and India are our two main areas.”

Like Malaysia, India is putting a lot of emphasis on expanding its railways. Fortunately, it is a market that the company already knows well: “We have worked in India since 2003. The Malaysian High Commission in New Delhi was built by us, so we do have expertise and a presence in the country.” As well as this prestigious contract, the company has also worked on general highway and rail contracts there, and each job has allowed them to learn the market’s differences to Malaysia’s: “India is a very challenging, complicated market. You must go in with the technical know-how, you need to be very sharp, and you must have a proper monitoring system in order to overcome the challenges that you’ll face whilst you’re there. Yet for all the challenges we face, we write these off, because the potential in India is great.”

DMIA take pride in having both the administrative, technical and practical requirements of managing and running a construction project down to a fine art. “We are a hands-on contractor, not just a project management contractor, though I think we are a good combination of both. We are good technical managers and are very strong in project management, but at the same time, our machinery is owned in house, which gives us a strong advantage.” All of the company’s ERP -Enterprise Resource Planning – is provided by a company known as 6D. In essence, this covers all of DMIA’s online systems. Of course, this impressive investment isn’t worth much unless DMIA’s team has the expertise to use it and a passion for their work:

“At DMIA, we always tell our team members that they should be dedicated to what they do, and they should be meticulous on the details. We send our staff to the various training opportunities, to sharpen their knowledge and acquire them the necessary skills for their work. Education is something of a life-long process; in our industry, you need to keep up to speed with the latest technology. So, for all team members, we need to continually send them to the latest education programmes.”

Staying up to speed on technology doesn’t just apply to heavy equipment and safe construction practices, though these are key; it also applies to the project management side of DMIA’s business, as 22 years have seen its team evolve from doing their planning on Excel to using specialised management software. The company also sends its senior managers to leadership workshops, as strong talent and training will only flourish so far without well-trained leadership, and vice versa.

“Leadership is very important. Guiding a team towards a quality, timely delivery is vital especially in our industry. We want to be the company that people like to partner with, so, we deliver things on time, we deliver a quality product, and we deliver safety in the process.”

Even though DMIA is a Malaysia-born company, its employees are multinational, both within its Malaysia-based staff and the local teams that it employs for its foreign contracts. “If we’re working in another country, our top key managers will be from our expert team in Malaysia, and they will be combined with the local talent. We bring on local young engineers, give them the relevant training and put them in their first job.”

Looking to the future, as well as their expansion plans and their continued emphasis on railways, DMIA are looking to lease their company, and will be spending much of 2019 preparing for this. They are currently looking into the possibility of pursuing this in Hong Kong. As for contracts, they are tendering two new projects in India, and a few throughout Southeast Asia, as well as some African countries. They are on the lookout for companies interested in partnering with them as they grow their reach, but the future certainly isn’t sparse on ways to keep them busy.