EVERGREEN FIBREBOARD BHD IS ONE OF THE COMPANIES IN MALAYSIA THAT HAVE SUCCESSFULLY MADE THE BEST OUT OF PLAIN RUBBERWOOD (MALAYSIAN OAK). RECENTLY LISTED ON BURSA MALAYSIA (MALAYSIA'S STOCK EXCHANGE), EVERGREEN IS AN INTEGRATED PRODUCER OF QUALITY ENGINEERED WOODBASED PRODUCTS MADE FROM MEDIUM DENSITY FIBREBOARD (MDF).
BESIDES THE COMPANY'S core business in manufacturing MDF, which are made from residual rubberwood, it also produces particleboard and knock-down furniture. At present, about RM320 million worth or 80% of its MDF is exported to customers in over 40 countries including the US, Vietnam, China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Jordan. The company, whose headquarters and main factories are located on a 10-hectare site at the Parit Raja Industrial Estate in Johore, has three other production facilities in the state (two in Pasir Gudang and one in Segamat) as well as an overseas venture in Thailand.
The company's history began with the incorporation of Evergreen Timber Products Pte. Ltd. in Singapore in 1972 by Kuo Wen Chi, to deal mainly in trading of various log species and manufacturing fancy veneer products. With the help of his two sons, Jen Chiu and Jen Chang, the company expanded its operations by opening a second plant of the same nature in Pasir Gudang in 1977. "Until the end of 1980's, MDF was still new to the wood-based panel industry in Malaysia. But Jen Chang and I saw the potential of MDF in replacing plywood as a substrate of panel products. We set up Evergreen Decor Products (M) Sdn Bhdin 1989 to focus on the manufacturing of door panels and products utilising MDF," said Jen Chiu, who is Evergreen Fibreboard Executive Director.
In 1991, the company's consumption of MDF was increasing and a decision to produce its own MDF was inevitable. The innovative brothers decided to venture into producing MDF made of residual rubberwood. With an initial investment of RM150 million, Evergreen Fibreboard was set up in Parit Raja. This was followed by the setting up of Evergreen Molded Panels Sdn Bhd in 1994 and AIlGreen Timber Products Sdn Bhd in 2002.
"It was not an easy start for us. One of the challenges was for us to convince the market that MDF is indeed a good material for numerous uses and for making high quality products," recalled Jen Chiu. "In line with our belief that 'going green' is the trendy thing for doing business in the 21st century, we indulged in a three-pronged mission, among which is to produce environmentally friendly and quality MDF products through a well-managed afforestation programme," he said.
According to Jen Chang, who is the company's Managing Director, Evergreen adopts an approach that maximises utilisation and minimises waste throughout the whole manufacturing process. This involves the utilisation of small diameter rubberwood branches that are usually left to rot or be burnt. "The residue produced throughout the process, such as when we debark the tree, is used for the boiler to generate heat and to run the dryer and press," he explained.
Evergreen is constantly looking into demand areas for further expansion to face the challenging future of the wood industry. To stay ahead of the competition, the company has expanded and diversified its product line from its original MDF product to include an extensive range of value added MDF, door, particleboard and furniture. Evergreen's value-added products are labelled under different brand names such as 'Ever-D' or (engineered flush door), 'Ever-Prime' (coated! embossed MDF), 'Ever-Mine' (melamine laminated board), 'Ever-Lite' (knock-down furniture), 'Ever-Print' (direct print board), 'Ever-Form' (HDF moulded door skin), 'Ever-Decor' (paper/PVC overlay MDF/PB) and 'Ever-Ply' (veneered laminated board).
For the future, Jen Chiu said, "Our plans include expanding manufacturing facilities, establishing chipping operations and a glue resin plant as well as coming out with new products and designs. Jen Chiu said MDF consumption in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to rise by 51 %, from around 10,000m3 in 2001 to 20.1 million m3 in 2006 and touching over 30 million m3 in 2008. "As a leading producer of MDF in the country, Evergreen is moving forward strategically to tap this rising demand".
Jen Chang elaborated that Evergreen is also investing some RM40 million for restoration work to a factory in Thailand which it had bought in February 2004. By June 2005, this factory would have a capacity of producing 35,000m3 of MDF annually. "Our Johor factories are already producing 240,000m3 per year. We hope with the additional production, we will see RM520 million in group revenue by December 2005. It'll be a 30% growth from 2004's estimated sales of RM400 million," he said. "Through continuous investment and development, coupled with a committed workforce and strong dedication to producing quality, environmentally friendly products as well as achieving total customer satisfaction, we hope to achieve better results in the future," said Jen Chang.