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A solid business foundation is essential: Alfred Chen

With more than 67 years in business, Namchow Holdings is not resting on its legacy and laurels. Instead, under the leadership of Chairman Alfred Chen, the company continues to look for ways to diversify, expand and move with the times.

Alfred Chen

Established in 1952 by Alfred’s father Qizhi Chen, the Taiwan-based company offers a product suite that includes baking oils, dairy products, flour, rice, detergent supplies, niche consumable products and biotech functional products. The company operates in Taiwan, Thailand and China with products sold globally.

The trajectory of Namchow has been steady and strategic, starting originally as a family business, then a publicly listed company with a global operation, and from 2017, an investment holding company. “In a constantly changing market, making wise decisions at key turning points is crucial to ensuring long-term business health. But firstly, a solid business foundation is essential,” suggests Alfred.

“The company’s sustainable management goal is to be based in Taiwan and to deploy around the world. Becoming a holding company is part of our long-term development strategy and a way to review the base built in each industry and prepare for future growth.”

Continued expansion is on Alfred’s radar with the company aiming to boost revenue from NT$18 billion (US$583 million) to NT$20 billion (US$647 million) by 2020 and then NT$25 billion (US$809 million) by 2025. Extending Namchow’s global footprint is also on the cards. “I’m excited by the prospect of Namchow entering the African and Central South American markets,” he says. “Our performance and targets for Thailand and China are encouraging too.”

With heavy investment in Thailand, the company expects to see Thailand’s role in the company’s performance increase from 13% contribution to sales to 20% in the next two years, with China remaining the largest market.

Developing environmentally sustainable cleaning products has been a focus for Namchow with proactive research and development of natural cleaning products. “The quality of Namchow’s cleaning products has been recognised by numerous product certifications and awards,” Alfred declares.

Namchow’s strategic R&D policy also extends to the development of low-fat, low-sugar, low-sodium, additive-free and preservative-free products. In fact, the baking industry in Taiwan has Namchow to thank for reinvigorating the market with creative marketing and promotional techniques, injecting a new lease of life into this sluggish industry.

“As well as being the leading brand in the market, we’ve helped baking manufacturers who use our products in their own produce become successful as well,” Alfred suggests. “This has earned us trust and respect from clients and consumers across the Straits.”

Innovating and constantly moving forward is a personal value that Alfred has employed in his leadership style. “Namchow is a learning organisation. As long as you’re willing to learn when you’ve been given a task, you won’t be afraid of making mistakes,” he says. “Mentorships have been crucial to the success of the company. We provide internal mentoring for junior staff to learn from their seniors. This ensures our employees’ goals support those of the company.

“We’ve grown the business step-by-step by innovating our existing product lines and markets before we expand.”

“Employees are the most important asset in a company. It’s the responsibility of our management team to build a people-centric company, where an employee’s personal career development can be aligned with the growth of the company. We encourage everyone in the company to boldly aim for our targets, which helps us achieve even more outstanding results.”

Alfred Chen

For Alfred, his personal leadership style has shaped the organisation’s success since he took over from his father in 1974. “I believe in personal and financial transparency,” he says. “We’ve grown the business step-by-step by innovating our existing product lines and markets before we expand. A great leap forward has never been my style.”

Namchow’s extensive network of relationships with key suppliers, partners, clients and consumers is an important asset. “The trust between Namchow and our network has made us friends and even family. Many of these relationships have lasted for decades,” Alfred says.

Strategic partner Yasunori Tashiro, President of Rheon Automatic Machinery, agrees. “For almost 28 years, we’ve been expanding the frozen dough market in Taiwan and now we’re working together to open up the China market,” Yasunori states. “My goal is to keep innovating and improving to deliver the best manufacturing lines for our partner Namchow.”

For Alfred, the secret to success for his company is simple: “We focus on our core business, communicate our goals and strategy to everyone, pursue profits and create long-term investments. By defining the value of our business internally and with our strategic partners, this sets the standard for the organisation.”

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