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BR Metals: Waste not, want not

Environmentally conscious young entrepreneur Frank Chen is building a recycling powerhouse with salvaged scraps

Mr Frank Chen, the managing director of BR Metals, says the company's technological edge over its competitors, which boosted its growth in the formative years, remains very much its driving force. PHOTO: BR METALS

One man's trash is another's treasure. So it is with Mr Frank Chen, who left his corporate job at one of the world's largest multinational professional services companies to spend his days collecting spent auto parts instead.

Born Francis Chan, he took on the name Frank Chen because his Chinese colleagues cannot pronounce his birth name properly. He also got used to everyone addressing him as Mr Chen. So to blend into the Chinese industry, he took on his business name and built BR Metals as Frank Chen.

To this day, he will not hesitate to roll up his sleeves and rummage through scrapyards around the world in search of scrap materials laden with precious metals.

Mr Chen, who is in his mid-30s, is the managing director of BR Metals, a market leader in the recycling of Platinum Group Metals (PGM) such as platinum, palladium and rhodium. This company, which has grown into a recycling powerhouse, tops the list of fastest growing companies.

Where it began

BR Metals' inception began in 2009 when Mr Chen's foresight led him to see that there was a growing market demand for professionalism and transparency in the collection, processing and recycling of scrap materials.

He decided to collect and recycle waste materials that contain PGM such as spark plug, oxygen sensor, petrolchemical catalyst, automotive electronic short years, the company has captured a significant market share in China. Today, it has offices in Singapore, Guangzhou, China, and Cambodia.

But striking the proverbial iron while it was hot has been just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to achieving success. Mr Chen developed a strategic plan to acquire new supplies and market share, set high industrial standards as a trusted partner and remained ISO 14001:2015 compliant.

Success, in part, has also been attributed to the formation of a strong network of trusted suppliers in South-east Asia, China, India, Sri Lanka and far-flung Iraq, Haiti and Iceland.

Says Mr Chen: "These relationships have been forged with trust through our

insistence on transparency in all our business processes over the years. We pride ourselves on our integrity and fairness, fully recognising that long-term supplier relationships are critical to our success."

Forging ahead

As a progressive company, being one step ahead of the others is a part of BR Metals' DNA.

Mr Chen says the company's technological edge over its competitors, which boosted its growth in the formative years, remains its driving force and continues to play an important role in helping it stand out from the rest.

"But the gap is closing; we are currently looking for our next set of unique selling points that will set us apart from the competition," he adds.

There are also plans to improve sampling processes and raise productivity. To take on increasing capacity and overcome labour crunch, the company automated its sampling line in Singapore last year. It reduced time required for each production cycle by 72.07 per cent and electricity usage by 48.26 per cent, and increases cost savings by 38.15 per cent.

With intensified competition from international players, Mr Chen has big plans for BR Metals in 2019 and beyond.

He shares: "Due to regulatory changes restricting gasoline and diesel vehicles in China, India and some European Union countries, we are sourcing for new markets and supplies in South-east Asia, South Asia and Mongolia, while diversifying our service offerings.

"We are also restructuring to be ready for the new market dynamics expected from the rise of Electric Vehicles (EV) as the gradual phasing out of petrol and diesel vehicles will have detrimental effects on our business if we are not prepared.

"To increase our collection and recycling volume, we are opening a new representative office in Ho Chi Minh City and a bigger production facility in Shaoguan, Guangdong. The latter will provide us with the space capacity for cobalt recycling from EV batteries at a later stage."

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