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Meet Dr. Thomas P. S. Ong – Control and Shift in Malaysia’s Fashion Textile Industry

Today we have selected Dr. Thomas P. S. Ong to take his interview. He is the CEO of Nano Textile Innovation.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

COVID-19 has affected everyone globally, with no exceptions among commercial sectors; B2C or B2B. We truly understood perceiving from our business partners’ B2C perspective. As a technology service provider in B2B sectors, the most difficult part of the previous two years has been maintaining consistency in the business market.

We do overcome the hurdles to stay positive, especially when working from home and stay relevant throughout this journey. Plus, we are under the textile segment that has our unique selling property via our nanotechnology services.

During the lockdown period, I must look after my production, strategy, and development teams’ physical and emotional well-being. Not everyone can embrace the work-from-home as efficiently as you wish. Considering the different home working environments we all have, it certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all in terms of methods and ways to embrace this kind of working mode.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

Across 12+ years of experience, I’ve worked in diverse verticals (refer below**); led, managed, and execute tech and sustainability business development & strategies. My strong involvement in leadership management has led to partnerships with over 55 companies through successful B2B and B2C commercialization strategies and products across APAC.

NanoTextile Sdn Bhd was founded in 2015 through a joint venture led by NanoMalaysia Bhd in Malaysia. My recent work focuses on building compelling business cases with sustainability potentials toward circular economy in the textile and fashion industry. We are launching sustainable efforts–driven programs, nanotextile+, and nanotextile360° to work closely in niched projects and business partners while promoting awareness in textile sustainability.

How does your company innovate?

Nanotechnology is well known as the enabler in other areas such as medicine, agriculture, and the food industry. Nanotechnology in textile is not a new concept. Still, as the pioneer to introduce it in Malaysia, we are devoted to supplying industry leaders with nanotechnology to build Malaysia’s textile and fashion scene in a more modern, tech-savvy, and sustainable manner.

It was dubbed “functional.” Creating a unique value chain for demand is critical to making your product stand out from the crowd. Furthermore, NanoTextile is currently collaborating with local fashion manufacturers to raise consumer awareness of technical textiles.

For example, one of the initiatives in the nanotextile360° program focuses on new research on using biological materials as alternatives to consumables in the textile and fashion industry. nanotextile+ extends partnerships with our business partners to enhance the incorporation of technology into products, functional being one of the pillars in sustainable efforts which we passionately promote.

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

The pandemic disrupted the supply chain quite drastically in 2020 – 2021. We are still experiencing its effect now, in 2022. We even had cancelations of services, orders,, and delays in product launches. All of these had contributed to the disruption of our plans and strategies.

During two years, we managed to gain partnerships in corporate communication; our focus swift to marketing efforts while building the fundamentals to business gain later. We are hopeful, with the ongoing economic and business activities, we can strive back and return to our normal.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and the lessons learned?

What I’d like to emphasize is the scenario rather than the options. As of now, one situation to consider is how you want clients/stakeholders to be able to incorporate your technology into their products/SKUs. To help customers comprehend our business category, we must show them what we do because the exposure will be limited to you till then. Hence, one thing for sure that has always been in the minds of business players is the cost.

Another scenario currently being discussed is how we may remain relevant by competing with other competitors, particularly those from China. What distinguishes us is that China textile segments often function as fabric manufacturers and providers, with nanotechnology embedded in the fabric and shipped to Malaysia. Still, we work as nanotechnology service providers to fashion brands. To maintain quality, we executed the embedment process on the finished items, and we do not recommend doing it on the cloth due to the efficacy drop.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

To navigate the crisis/scenario, we do not use any specific tools or software. However, one quality that has always been injected in me is the ability to consider what is best for the client. What is the finest solution to come out if you put yourselves in their shoes? Plus, planning is a vital aspect of the growing market.

By planning the best technology next to encounter the market and for the client, we are bringing one step ahead solution, not just for the company but the whole fashion and textile landscape in Malaysia.

Your final thoughts

My vision has been clear, and that is to move the industry upward the value chain by providing our business partners, ranging from the SMEs, brand owners, distributors, manufacturers, and producers) the avenues to innovate and functionalize.

Likewise, feel free to browse through our LinkedIn profile on our business themes such as “Functional Apparel” in 2018, “When Fashion Meets Technology” in 2019, “Sustainability” in 2021, etc. Our website is currently accessible at https://www.nanotextileinnovation.com. Besides Clothing, Automotive, Industrial, Home, and Medical Textile segments, we are also now championing sub-segments such as the batik, reversible wear, plus-size, socks/school wear, etc.

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