SINGAPORE (May 26): In 2012, Chuang Tze-Mon (photo), executive director of Memtech International, led the ailing firm’s shift from manufacturing keypads for mobile phones to making components for cars.

Chuang admits it was not easy for the company to break into the automotive market. “It’s not an easy segment to get into,” he says. “But fortunately, once you’re in, it’s hard to get out.”

Now five years later, Chuang’s efforts to transform the company seem to have paid off. For the three months ended March, Memtech posted a 181% increase in earnings to $1.6 million from $569,000 a year ago. Revenue for the quarter was $36.4 million, up 9.8% from $33.2 million a year ago.

The company also retains a strong balance sheet. As at end-March, Memtech had cash and cash equivalents amounting to $29.7 million and total debt of $4.3 million.

Still, Chuang says the company faces several challenges. For one, labour has become the second-largest cost component for Memtech. And over the past two to three years, Memtech  has been increasingly automating its factories. Meanwhile, Chuang keeps looking at ways Memtech can continue to change.

To find out more about how Memtech diversified into automotive, get the May 29 issue of The Edge Singapore which is on sale now.