The late Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin SM Amin is often remembered as a visionary who created the largest family-owned automotive conglomerate in Malaysia, the Naza Group of Companies.
Through his passion for cars, Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin began the Naza Group’s automotive business in 1975.
At just 21, he utilized his savings which were earned from helping his father’s construction business and began importing used Japanese cars.
After selling of his entire stock within three-months, Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin began a dealership for used luxury vehicles in Kuala Lumpur. He later succeeded in applying and receiving his own APs to import used-luxury vehicles.
Despite enjoying success running a motor-trading company, Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin harboured ambitions of expanding his business to include sole distributorship of a global brand and to become an automotive assembler.
By the late 90s, one half of Tan SM Nasmuddin’s dreams came true when South Korea’s Kia Motors Corporation appointed a subsidiary of the Naza Group, Naza Kia Malaysia Sdn Bhd, as the franchise holder for the brand in Malaysia.
In 2001, Naza Kia Malaysia entered the industry of automotive assembly with the introduction of the Kia Spectra. The vehicle was assembled through a contract manufacturing arrangement with a local automotive assembler.
By 2002, Naza Automotive Manufacturing Sdn Bhd (NAM) was established and by 2003, construction of the Naza Group’s very own manufacturing plant commenced in Gurun, Kedah.
In May 2004, NAM commenced operations at Gurun with the production of the Ria, which later became the market leader in the domestic MPV segment with a 40% market share.
With his dreams realized, NAM, under Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin’s leadership, produced several more Kias such as the Sorento and Sportage which also became market leaders in their respective segments.
While Kia was booming under the Naza Group, Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin also began the group’s partnership with French carmaker, Automobiles Peugeot, by becoming a dealer and importer for the brand in 2002.
This partnership subsequently led to the 206 Bestari project which entailed the local assembly of the 1.4L 5-door Peugeot 206. Launched in May 2006, the 206 Bestari quickly became one of the best selling continental models in the market.
In light of this success, Automobiles Peugeot appointed Nasim Sdn Bhd, a unit of the Naza Group, as its sole distributor and assembler in Malaysia in January 2008.
Besides the automotive industry, Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin also led the Naza Group into the highly profitable property development and hotel management industries.
In 2002, the Naza Group began its hotel management business by acquiring a hotel in Penang. Following that, the group expanded the business to hotels in Johor Bahru and Melaka.
Outside Malaysia, the group had previously acquired the Crowne Plaza Los Angeles and the Howard Johnson Inn Torrance in California, USA in the late 90s. The management of these hotels were taken over the by Naza Group in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
In 2004, the Naza Group acquired TTDI Development Sdn Bhd which has since become one of the country’s leading property developers.
The company, which was renamed Naza TTDI Sdn Bhd, is now undertaking some of the biggest and most ambitious property projects in Kuala Lumpur including the RM4 billion Platinum Park project which is set to alter Kuala Lumpur’s skyline when completed.
Today, Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin’s philosophy and principles continues to guide the Naza Group in each new endeavor as it seeks to continue his legacy and success for generations to come.