MEIKO established regional HQ for Southeast Asia in Greater Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia is no foreign place for the MEIKO Group, a German-based warewashing technology producer, as its first project here was back in 1993, installing warewashing facilities at the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, then Kuala Lumpur’s international airport.

However, it was in 2012 that MEIKO decided to set up a regional hub in Southeast Asia. After considering suitable locations such as Bangkok and Singapore, the group decided to locate its regional headquarters for Southeast Asia and South Korea in Kuala Lumpur.

So, what attracts a company that started out of a garage in the Black Forest area by Oskar Meier and Franz Konrad in 1927 to set up a Southeast Asian hub in Kuala Lumpur, beating other economic hubs in the region?

Rudolf Kitzbichler, managing director of MEIKO Clean Solutions (SEA) Sdn Bhd, says the multilingual skills of Malaysians, ease of setting up and doing business, having good digital potentials and yet still at a reasonable cost are among the factors MEIKO chose the city as its home base in Southeast Asia.

“If you look at the geographical location of Kuala Lumpur, it is the most centrally located city among the major economic hubs of Southeast Asia. You are able to reach every spot in the region in less than four hours.

“And if you look at the bigger picture, within Asia itself, you can fly to Dubai, Tokyo or Sydney in less than seven hours. That’s what I would call a central location within Asia,” says Rudolf Kitzbichler.
MEIKO’s journey over the last nine decades
MEIKO is a technology company with warewashing solutions installed in over 90 countries worldwide and 20 subsidiaries, with a workforce strength of 2,500.

Having already set up hubs in other regions, MEIKO had its eyes set on Southeast Asia and South Korea. It wanted to be closer to its clients in this region and therefore required a regional hub from where it could serve its customers. “While our good name MEIKO is recognised worldwide through our innovative technology, it is the quality of our professional services that has really given us lots of long-term partnerships, because only a working machine is a valuable machine. To reach this, we are close to our business partners; we understand quite well what drives them, what concerns them and what adds value to their business – we are in constant dialogue to help solve their needs."

The SEA hub does not only develop a sales and service network for MEIKO but also involves research and development, says Rudolf Kitzbichler. The R&D that takes place at MEIKO SEA involves understanding the local culture and food habits.

For example, the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre uses very big food-sharing plates. MEIKO SEA conducts R&D into test washing the big food-sharing plates under real conditions with the right chemical combination to make sure the items are hygienically cleaned and dried.
MEIKO’s R&D foothold in KL
MEIKO started some partnerships with universities like KDU & Taylors University on the foodservice section and with University Teknologi Petronas from a digital aspect. It also actively supports a non-governmental organisation here in Malaysia – Food Aid Foundation. It is trying its best to educate the local F&B scene and healthcare segment on hygienic solutions and standards and sharing its global experience and knowledge with the community.

“Our Malaysian team is very responsible, which could be seen during the Covid lockdown, and we are thankful to have such a great team with good team spirit,” says Rudolf Kitzbichler.

“Being able to find talent that can speak German is a bonus. We have a young Malaysian general manager here – who is 35 – leading the team and a MEIKO Academy manager doing a great regional job. Two of our employees have also studied in Germany. They speak some German, which is great to communicate with our team in Germany.”
InvestKL supports MEIKO during Covid-19 pandemic
During the Covid-19 pandemic, borders were shut, causing travel for MEIKO engineers and technicians to be halted and ongoing work to be suspended. InvestKL assisted the company to secure all the necessary approvals from the authorities in both countries to arrange for the travelling of the company’s engineers to Jeju, South Korea.

“InvestKL supported us greatly by connecting us to the local Immigration Department, to allow our engineers to fly to [South] Korea and also come back into Malaysia again. Of course, all necessary quarantine rules were followed,” says Rudolf Kitzbichler.

“It has been seven years since we decided to make Malaysia our regional hub, and we are planning to stay here for good. So right now we have started to think about our future plans.”

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