Author(s): Wee Beng Geok & Ivy Buche with Mark Kroll & Timothy Chua
Abstract: In 2009, Hyflux Ltd (Hyflux) was one of Asia’s leading environmental water treatment companies with operations in Singapore, China, the Middle East, North Africa and India. Specialising in membrane technologies, Hyflux provided integrated solutions for municipal water treatment as well as for industrial manufacturing processes, including the recycling of spent oils and solvents. Started in 1989 by Singapore-based entrepreneur Olivia Lum, Hyflux was an early mover into China’s nascent industrial water treatment market in 1993, servicing numerous manufacturing plants there. In 1998, to widen Hyflux’s market base and accelerate growth, Lum moved into the municipal water treatment market in Singapore. With this, Hyflux sales revenue jumped from S$17.7 million in 2000 (nine months) to S$554 million in 2008 and despite the 2008 global recession during which its municipal business remained strong, the company was able to secure large-scale high value projects in North Africa. As a newcomer, Hyflux leveraged on its innovative water treatment technologies and entrepreneurial drive to grow the business. However by 2009, as a player in the global water treatment business, Hyflux had to prove that it could execute greenfield municipal projects in a far-flung continent and compete with other global water treatment companies in these new markets. To respond to these challenges, Hyflux had to rapidly grow its human capital and organisational capabilities to match the firm’s aggressive market penetration strategies.