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“We were a 2S (Service and Spare-Parts) Hino centre when we first set up the company in 1984. At that time, there was no Hino sales centre in Bintulu and those who wanted to buy Hino vehicles had to buy from Miri. We serviced many Hino vehicles and successful gained the trust of the owners. Many of them asked if we could also supply the vehicles, which led to our centre being upgraded from 2S to 3S on 26th July, 1997,”said Managing Director Lu Kui Tiong.
Lu & Sons Engineering was the first Hino 3S centre in Bintulu that offered complete services from sales, spare-parts to maintenance and repair. He revealed that the Miri dealer at that time did not provide spare-parts and after-sales service.
Before he ventured into the business, he worked for KTS Trading Sdn Bhd, a logging company that also specialised in truck servicing. “KTS used many Hino trucks. I worked there for 8 years, which enabled me to accumulate the relevant knowledge, skills and experience, especially for the Hino brand. I knew the brand and its vehicles like the back of my hand.”
His strong technical skills and knowledge were the two greatest strengths that led to the company’s rapid growth over the years. He saw the development and improvements in Hino vehicles, from the KM models to LB KR 100, KB 300 to Super Ranger and the latest Hino 300, 500 and 700 series.
“We did some modifications on the engines of the three earlier models - Hino KM, LB KR 100 and KR 300 - for the customers during maintenance service, which eliminated the need for warming up the engine before heading off. After that, no warm-up was required for the following Hino models such as the GF and Super Ranger series. It was from the launch of the Ranger that we started selling Hino vehicles.”
The two major market segments that the company focuses on are plantation and construction. “In 2014, we were the first Hino 3S dealer that brought in the 700 series prime mover to Malaysia, which is Hino’s heaviest vehicle. This newest version that produces up to 460hp is getting closer and closer to its European rivals in terms of performance. We see its potential in the logging, container and palm oil tanker haulage segments. We sold all 6 units of the very first batch.”
In 2016, he revealed that they sold 500 Hino trucks in total, including quite a significant number of the FM 500 series. “Eighty per cent of the sales of the FM 500 series were in the Sarawak market, with the remaining 20 per cent in Peninsular Malaysia.”
Today, the company has its headquarters in Bintulu with 3 branches, one each in Kuching, Sibu and Miri. It carries a complete range of Hino vehicles, from Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV), Medium Commercial Vehicles (MCV), Heavy Commercial Vehicles (HCV) to buses.
“For the Hino bus, we focus mainly on the express bus with the AK and BS bus chassis. At present, 95 per cent of the Sarawak express bus market is taken by Hino,” he added.
There are numerous reasons why customers choose them apart from the wide range of products that the company offers. “We recognise the importance of servicing the vehicle quickly and get it done right the first time, as we understand that vehicle downtime costs money. Not only are our mechanics well trained and experienced but my two sons, Aalan Lu and Soon Jing, who hold the positions of Executive Director and General Manager respectively in the company, are both technically sound. We are a team of passionate Hino truck enthusiasts; we love what we do and are willing to share our expertise.”
The auto retail operating environment had changed significantly over the years, which forced the automakers and dealerships to rethink their approach and business models.
“We are more than a 3S centre. I would say we are a one-stop solution provider. We have our own body building workshop to ensure quality and shorten the delivery time. Other services that we provide include licence renewal and roadside assistance,” added Aalan.
Kui Tiong believed in a single-brand approach. He stressed that this enabled one to concentrate on building and growing the brand. “Hino is very supportive in terms of technical training, marketing and promotions. If we sell multiple brands, there will definitely be some kind of conflict and it would also confuse our customers.”
What about future plans? Aalan replied that the company would look at expanding and upgrading the current facilities.
The loyalty and outstanding efforts of Kui Tiong and his two sons were clearly reflected in the various Hino awards they had won over the years. These include the Champion Award for 3S Overall Category in the TS Contest in 2007, 2009, 2012, 2014 and for first time ever in the history of Hino Malaysia by being awarded 3 consecutive Champion title from 2015 to 2017, Overall Champion Award in the Hino 12th Mechanic Skill Contest in 2009, Champion MHCV & Bus Sales Award from 2011 to 2016, Dealers of the Year Award in 2014, and 10 Years Excellence Long Service Loyalty Award in 2015.
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