Jim Robinson

Group CEO

MFE Formwork Technology Sdn Bhd

2023

Outstanding Leaders in Asia

Jim Robinson

Outstanding Leaders in Asia

2023

Group CEO

MFE Formwork Technology Sdn Bhd

about Jim Robinson

“Leading the Way with Construction Technology”

In the hard-hat business of construction, Jim Robinson believes that the way to drive an organisation to its greatest heights is through  gaining the trust of its team members and clientele.  

When asked if he had any role models who inspired him to become the leader he is today, Jim Robinson, Group CEO of MFE Formwork Technology professed without hesitation: “My mum.” He said she taught him to always do his best in all aspects of life, to never give up and to always learn from one’s mistakes. 

He recalled she used to say to him: “Always aim for the moon and even if you  miss you will end up among the stars.”

It was through her guidance that Robinson finds himself among the moon and stars today. After gaining a Higher National Certificate in Construction at a night college, he wound up teaching at the same college before becoming Mayor of his home town in Northern Ireland and servicing the local community for 12 years. In 1996, he was posted to Malaysia as Commercial Manager for MFE Formwork Technology and in 2010, became its CEO, a post he has held for the last 13 years.

MFE Formwork Technology

MFE Formwork Technology is a pioneer in Asia in manufacturing and marketing aluminium formwork systems for the construction industry.  

“Being the first manufacturer in Asia, we have lead the way in introducing new technologies into our manufacturing processes, such as Friction Stir Welding.  Our worldwide markets see us as the market leader in terms of our quality of product, concrete finish and after-sales service which includes providing on-site technical support and training,” he said.

“Our formwork system can construct a high-rise building at one floor every four days or one landed property − be it a bungalow or linked house – everyday.” 

MFE was formed in Malaysia in 1991 and by 2002, they broke into the Indian market. Since then, they have entered many other markets across the globe including Latin America, USA, Europe, Sri Lanka,  Taiwan, the MENA region and Africa.

Not only that, in 2015, the company moved into their new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Port Klang and by 2018, they were producing over 1,500,000m2 of formwork annually, a 122-time increase over the 12,350m2 of formwork manufactured in their first year of business. 

Hard Decision

In all the strides the company has made, Robinson recalls one stumbling block that had a major impact on the business: Covid. 

Between lockdowns and projects being closed down for long periods throughout the world, he had a two-pronged emergency at hand: Ensure the safety of their employees and safeguarding the business.

“I spoke to all staff and advised them that we needed to reduce the outflow of money to continue in business,” he said. The stop-gap measure was to introduce a wage reduction programme, ranging from 5% to 35% depending on the salary levels. 

“This happened in April 2020 and not a single member of staff complained. Several even came to me giving their full support for the action which they also believed would help safeguard their jobs in the long term.” 

Fortunately, by September 2020, the company managed to be in a position where they were able to reinstate full salaries to their staff.

The Mark of Leadership

Always a believer of honesty, trust and loyalty, Robinson says his leadership style lies in always being honest with his staff, the stakeholders of the company and all their clients.

“Gaining trust and loyalty with everyone is so important and makes you stand out in terms of leadership. The other important point is building what seems to be a personal relationship with your peers as it gains their trust and respect,” he said. 

Robinson’s personal values of trust, honesty, loyalty and respect have permeated MFE’s culture as well, which is why the company enjoys a very low staff turnover and continued customer loyalty from even their first clients from over 30 years ago.

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