When it comes to the retail and wholesale business in Malaysia, MYDIN is a force to be reckoned with. But the journey has not been an easy one. MYDIN had a humble beginning. Its first store, set up in 1957 in Kota Baru, was only a small wooden shop. Over the next 54 years, it has grown both in size and scope of its business. Now, MYDIN operates 94 outlets nationwide, inclusive of seven hypermarkets, 18 emporiums, three bazaars, 52 mini-marts (MyMydin), nine convenience stores (MyMart) and six franchise outlets (Mydin Mart).
Author Datin Siti Hawa Mohd reveals the secret behind its success in her book, Mydin the Untold Story. She interviewed Mydin Mohamed, the founder of this famous hypermarket chain, and his son, Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin, the current managing director of Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd. You can say that Siti Hawa has the inside story on the Mydin family as she is the founder’s daughter-in-law and Ameer’s wife as well as the Human Resource Director of the company. It is only natural, therefore, that some may perceive her book as being a little bias and not giving a balanced picture, focusing only on the family’s strengths and not its flaws. “I was not writing a biography of Mydin,” she says in her defence.
“I wanted to tell the story of how MYDIN started. I wrote this book with only one aim – to inspire the readers out there to go for their dream. “I want to tell my readers that you can be like MYDIN and his family … they had made their dream a reality. All you need to become rich and successful is to have strong will power and be prepared to work hard too. There is no short cut to success.” Siti Hawa already had the idea to write this book in 1998 when she left her lecturing job to join the company. For the last 13 years, she had been diligently collecting stories and materials on her in-laws, Mydin and Rowshan. Some say the only reason the company became rich and successful was because it received many big contracts from the government, among them the licence to operate the Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M), which sells basic household necessities, from rice to diapers, at affordable prices.
Siti Hawa explained: “The only reason the government gave us the contracts was because we have a good track record of 54 years and we have a strong suppliers chain.” Mydin the Untold Story is Siti Hawa’s third book. Her first was Strategi Pelajar Lulus Peperiksaan, targeted at high school and university students. Then she co-authored Introduction to Psychology. She has also written articles ranging from parenting to women’s issues in a handful of magazines, and is currently working on her fourth book on tips to improve the level of customer services in our country.
ABOUT THE MYDINS
• Even at the age of 84, Mydin Mohamed still comes to work every day, including Sundays, even if it is for an hour.
• In 1966, Kota Baru faced one of the worst floods. Most of the shops were closed, except for MYDIN which made huge profits selling rubber tubes, umbrellas, raincoats, batteries, candles, and other household essentials.
• During the early days, MYDIN family meal sometimes consisted if just one fish with gravy. Rowshan would divide the fish into seven equal parts for each child. Then Mydin and Rowshan would eat their rice with the gravy.
• Spending wisely seems to be the family philosophy. Even as children, Ameer and his brothers loved roti telur but they would bring eggs from their house to the hawker’s stall so that it would cost less.
• In 2005, Siti Hawa went to Nepal to recruit workers for MYDIN stores. The moment she and her staff arrived in Nepal, the government declared a curfew, shutting down communications and the airport. In the end, they managed to get a flight to Bangkok, and from there, she called home only to find out that her husband had left for Nepal to look for her. “Talk about a Bollywood movie in the making…”, she recalled.