Located at the cross junction of Jalan Ampang and Jalan Tun Razak lies the newly relaunched car dealership DTC Motors Sdn Bhd. And managing this establishment is none other than Afendy bin Wahid. Having been in the automotive industry since 2007, Afendy got his first taste of entrepreneurship in 1998.
“I was never a straight A student and my SPM result was not ideal. My family did not have the resources to send me off for college. And since I was never particularly fond of studying, I decided to do something bold and started my own business at the age of 18,” he begins.
Whatever I earned, I spent. That was my biggest mistake in life. I should not have splurged or lavished money on myself
At that time, Afendy’s family has just begun their own rice trading business and the young entrepreneur found a small gap where he can provide a solution. “At least once a week, my family had to hire a 40 feet trailer to pick up rice from the rice mills. Thus, I proposed to buy a trailer where I can help with the rice transportation as well as use it for other business purposes,” he explains. It was a big responsibility for a youth who has zero experience in the real world to start a business. Yet, the family gave him their blessings and took up a RM30k loan to purchase his first truck.
Within a year, the family business bloomed; as did Afendy’s. However, the Asian financial crisis really took a toll on Malaysia’s economy in 1998 and it affected all of everyone deeply. “Although I still managed to run my company, jobs were scarce. Thankfully, business began to pick up in 2001 and Afendy added more trailers to his portfolio. By then I had a total of seven trailers and I had more job offers than my company could take,” he reveals.
The Toughest Lesson Learnt
Looking back, Afendy notes that he had hoped his younger self would have listened to his parents more. “Whatever I earned, I spent. That was my biggest mistake in life. I should not have splurged or lavished money on myself,” he nods wistfully. While Afendy is born into a modest, middle-income household, he narrates that his parents were not as lucky.
“My parents grew up poor in Kelantan. When they moved to Pahang 50 years back, they wanted only to provide the best for the family. Both worked really hard and were frugal when it comes to their own needs. Despite their frequent advice on saving, I waived them off and kept on spending. It was not long after did I suffer the consequences,” he shares.
When Going Up is the Only Option
2005 came and business began to drop drastically to the point where Afendy had to sell off six of his assets. “One truck is worth Rm100k then. So, you can imagine how much money I’d lost. There was also a period where my trailers were pulled back by the processor because I was unable to pay the mortgage. It was a depressing time for me. I had no savings. No trucks. Thankfully, my family had been supportive and stayed with me during those desperate hours.”
There’s always ups and downs when it comes to business. But it’s crucial to maintain a good reputation in your own industry.
While things were looking hopeless in Kuantan, Kuala Lumpur shone a different light. “My relative, who is an AP (Approved Permits) holder based in Kuala Lumpur, looped me into the automotive scene. He taught me the trade and I decided to try selling important cars on the side,” Afendy recalls. After a year, Afendy realised that the freelance gig is much more profitable as compared to his full-time business.
“I’ve always liked cars, especially supercars. So, I thought, why not make it full time?” he smiles.
Afendy’s Second Chance To Redemption
“A lot of people think I do what I do now is because it is easier”, Afendy reveals, “but the truth is, all businesses are hard. You have to learn from the ground up. Start from zero. There is no other way if you want to succeed.”
After selling his last truck in 2007, Afendy rented a small office within the showroom of another AP holder in Jalan Ampang. “I still remember it was located next to the toilet. It was so tiny that it can only fit a table and three chairs. But it was sufficient. That was how I first officially started my car business selling imported cars as well as second-hand vehicles.”
As time pass, his clientele increased until the directors of the car dealership were astounded to see high profile people buying cars from Afendy. “On average, I was selling five to 10 units, without any extra hands. I was selling luxury cars such as Ferraris easily. One of the bosses recognised my passion and offered me a bigger office space at the front. I was happy! It was more presentable, but more importantly, it enabled me to hire staff to assist me.”
The Promising Turn of Events
Up until the year 2013, business was fair and Afendy was able to sell approximately 20 to 30 units every month. “There’s always ups and downs when it comes to business. But it’s crucial to maintain a good reputation in your own industry. For me, I do my best to keep a strong relationship with every dealer in the business. I am proud to say at least 80% of the AP holders in Kuala Lumpur knows who I am,” he proudly informs.
I have seen how big corporates fall overnight simply because of bad management and service. I’ve fallen once. So, I’m extra careful with everything I do.
Everything changed when an AP holder from Sarawak asked if he would like to partner up with him. “He was looking to expand his company to the Peninsular. It was an honour to be asked but I was honest. I was unsure if I wanted to take up the challenge.” Understanding his concern, Afendy was then offered a managerial role instead. “It gave me an opportunity to fully run a moderate company without my expense. From operation to staffing, I had to know everything from A to Z.”
A Leap of Faith
Four years later, the business continues to bloom. However, its success made Afendy wondered, “How long more do I wish to care for other people’s business?”. It was a turning point. “Though the company gave me freedom, I knew deep down I wanted to own something I can be proud of. By then, I had some savings in hand. It was time.”
For those who are familiar with the market would know that the application procedure to obtain an approved permit is no walk in the park. The next best option is to join the board of an existing company who is an AP holder. Following a few months of thorough research, Afendy stumbled upon D.T.C Motors. “The chairman had just passed away and the business was poor. To that, I was invited to join the board and help restructure and rebrand the whole company.”
A New Chapter for D.T.C Motors
Afendy remembers fondly the time where he would buy books and magazines to study the market. That was 10 years back. Social media replaced paper in 2018. “We have more than 29k followers on Instagram to date. Which is quite a milestone considering we have just rebranded D.T.C Motors this year. And I have to thank all the local celebrities who had helped us in terms of exposure,” Afendy says. However, he was quick to emphasise that nothing can last.
My vision is to see D.T.C Motors on par with some of the biggest AP holder companies in the market
“I have seen how big corporates fall overnight simply because of bad management and service. I’ve fallen once. So, I’m extra careful with everything I do. I’m not saying I’m 100% perfect. I’m still learning. Which is why I have to also thank my operation staff and sales team who have been with more since the beginning. They know me very well and we support each other like family. If it weren’t for them, I won’t be here today.”
With its strategic position right in the heart of the golden triangle, the company is up for an optimistic start. For one, they are looking to construct an outdoor billboard within its premise to further bring the world’s attention to D.T.C Motors. “It’s a prime location. It’s a waste if we don’t fully utilise it,” Afendy replies, stating that in addition to his corporate advertisement, it will also be used to support other partnering businesses.
“My vision is to see D.T.C Motors on par with some of the biggest AP holder companies in the market,” he says, clarifying that his aim is not to be as big as them, but rather to be equal in terms of good practice and competition. Afendy also hopes that before the end of 2019, he is able to expand and have two more showrooms, one in Klang Valley, the other hopefully in another state.
Despite his profession, Afendy only drives a MYVI. “A lot of people are surprised that I drive such a simple car when I’m selling luxury cars. My passion is for my business. While I do love all these supercars, I really am grateful for what I have now,” he ends with a hearty laugh.