May Yap: Pioneering the Timber Industry with Successful Leadership in LHT Holdings

The 10 Most Influential Business Leaders to Follow

There are many emerging leaders in the market who achieved success with their hard work and persistent efforts. May Yap, Chairwoman, CEO, and Acting Managing Director at LHT Holdings Ltd., has become a great leader with her company’s sensational growth. She has even earned several accolades for her 20 years of service in the timber industry. In 2018, LHT received many prestigious awards such as Climate Action Champion and EcoFriend Awards by NEA. She firmly believes, “In this rapidly changing digitalization era, the basic business sense needs to innovate, and if it doesn’t innovate, it will be evaporated.”

Road To Success

May graduated from GCE ‘O” level in December 1977 and got into former Lian Hup Timber Pte Limited, which is now re-named as LHT. At that time, her roles were multi-faceted. She says, “As a teenage admin clerk, I was responsible for multi-tasking jobs like receptionist, delivery arrangement, stock inventory, accounts, and housekeeping, etc. The company had less than 20 employees in its workforce and was situated on a leasing land with size not more than 100 sqm situated in Mandai area.”

Slowly, the company caught the attention of many foreign MNCs for wood pallets which were necessary for shipping export goods. As of 2nd January 1988, she was Sales Director in charge of all the different sales and marketing operations. Later, she took the main opportunity to be an Executive Director by becoming one of the major shareholders when the company restructured for its listing. The business expanded too, and finally, with 168 employees and 35,680 sqm land, it was listed main board as LHT Holdings Limited in 1999.

May has a Diploma in Sales and Marketing from the Marketing Institute of Singapore and has also finished the Operation Management Innovation (OMNI) program conducted by A*Star in 2011. She is also a member of the Singapore Institute of Directors.

Later, she was appointed as the Acting Managing Director in 2016, followed by re-designation as the Chairman, Managing Director, and CEO in 2017. Also, she is actively involved in the pallet rental business in Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. 

Hurdles along the way

With the rapid change in the corporate market, every business needs to incorporate the latest trends in technology. Amalgamation with artificial intelligence, incorporation of young talent, and adapting to new unique ideas are some of the key things that can lead to further success.

May understood the cultural and technological gap and worked on the areas to take the company to new horizons.

She feels that there is an erosion of technological superiority in the corporate market in the last decade. Without proper experimentation, the companies deliver products and services that are not good for the customers. She worked on this key area after joining forces with the company and ensured that the company deals with excellent quality by properly incorporating the latest technology trends.

The second gap to fill was to change the culture of the workspace in the company. She believes that Y-Gen or millennials do not set goals based on purpose but succumb to peer pressure and take hasty decisions. It was crucial to shape the way for them to get the best results for the company.

She expresses that with the right decisions, leaders can explore new heights by managing the assets of the company. She tries to make the best of the situation and lead the company in the right direction.

Transforming timber industry with LHT Holdings

LHT Holdings deals in several products and services. One of the products is Technical Wood, which is an engineered compressed wood made of original tropical hardwood fibers that undergo a high-pressure and high-temperature steaming process. A “new wood” that will substitute natural wood as it is made from wood waste material.

The company deals with the Innovative Process Product Conversion (IPPC) Pallets. It is a series that is gaining a strong foothold in the arena of green products that are designed and produced to reduce carbon footprints. The pest-free pallets provide innovative packing solutions that help customers reduce waste, thereby contributing to the reduction of carbon emissions.

They are dealing with Efficient Consumer Response, or ECR, which is a strategy to improve consumer choice, satisfaction, and service and, at the same, reduce total costs, inventories, and physical assets.

She states, “ECR requires distributors and suppliers to focus jointly on the efficiency of the total grocery chain, rather than the efficiency of individual components.”

She is leading the company into green technology. With Technical Wood, they are creating a substitute for natural wood. The Wood Plastic composite is their new area in R&D that uses wood wastes and plastic wastes in combination to form or develop more greener products.

LHT has been relentless in its efforts to provide products of cutting-edge technology, constantly investing and upgrading to ensure that they are always able to meet changing market demands and provide the best value-added products and services to their customers.

She adds, “We are always conscious of our role in the conservation of natural resources. Recycling is one of many efforts that reflect our commitment towards mitigating climate change and deforestation.”

Life as Chairwomen, CEO, and Managing Director of the company

Handling the key roles in the company, May is actively involved in the pallet business. She oversees everything and makes sure that the products have the desired quality to mark their presence in the market.

She aims at taking the company to the next level by collaborating on new projects with the leading companies in the market. She believes that ameliorating the service of the company is a joint effort in which all the team members, from in-house employees to stakeholders, play a vital role.

Future Plans

On the personal front, after retirement, she wants to nurture the young generation and pass the keys to success. For the company, She is looking forward to investing in numerous areas, and with the innovation to plant all the seeds, their business has turned out to be more sustainable with long-term growth and factory 4.0 transformation.

She adds, “Our industry with this uniqueness will be able to propel and transform to a knowledge-based company, and whatever product we have developed will be a green concept. Our priority will always be to help save the earth and curb all climate changes.”

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