Glove Tycoon of Malaysia
He sits on the board of Hartalega Holdings. Kuan Kim Hon @ Kwan Kam Onn is the man behind this company which is one of the largest producers of nitrile gloves in the world. He started out working in his father’s company, Kuan Yuan & Sons in 1969. The firm was a famous home building company back then that built many residential properties in the Klang Valley.
Founding of Hartalega
Kuan started Timol Weaving in 1978 which was involved in making woven labels and badges. It was to be one of the pioneers in this industry. 3 years late (1981), Kuan started Hartalega Sdn Bhd and has not looked back since. The company was running on 4 production lines by 1988 in Kepong, producing rubber gloves. The company went public 20 years later and by then became the largest producer of nitrile gloves in the world. Kuan’s wealth grew along the way where he has been ranked among the richest people in Malaysia.
Why Nitrile Gloves made Kuan a billionaire?
Nitrile gloves were seen as a cheaper alternative to rubber gloves. They are basically synthetic rubber which has similar properties. Nitrile gloves do not have latex known to cause allergic reactions in some people. Malaysia is one of the biggest glove manufacturers and exporters in the world. In 2010, the price of natural rubber went up and nitrile gloves became the next obvious choice.
COVID-19 and the boost in Hartalega’s business
The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 increased the demands for gloves tremendously to 120 billion. To date (2020), Hartalega produces at a maximum of 39.3 billion pieces per annum and plans are underway to hit 95 billion. Since its listing on Bursa Malaysia in 2008, Hartalega has been profitable each year. 2020 was the best year for Hartalega where it achieved its highest revenue at RM2.92 billion for its financial year ending 31 March 2020. That puts the pre-tax profit at slightly more than half a billion Ringgit.
Wealth through a family-oriented business
Kuan previously held the Managing Director’s post in Hartalega until 2012 when he stepped down to have his son Kuan Mun Leong take over. His 2 other sons have also been involved in the managing of the company as well as his 2 nephews, all of whom are academically qualified with industry experience. As the Executive Chairman of the group, Kuan continues to play an advisory role in strategic planning and operations.
Kuan’s Net Worth
$3.8 Billion (2021)
Source Of Wealth
Kuan is a self-made billionaire. He started out working for his father’s company when it was in property development. Through good foresight, he ventured into manufacturing nitrile gloves which remain as its main source of wealth to the present day.
Kuan is married with 3 children. His eldest son, Kuan Mun Leong is the Managing Director in Hartalega.
Not much information is available on Kuan’s education. However, it has been reported that the self-made billionaire did not complete his secondary education before setting to work for his father and then building his wealth.