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2015 golden jubilee edition
The Business Times | Wednesday, July 15, 2015

N THE early 1960s, Singapore had only a small

manufacturing base with very mediocre
infrastructure, minimal domestic capital and scant
foreign investment. Post-independence, the
Republic lost its source of raw materials which
came mainly from Malaysia as well as a domestic
market for its goods.
To strengthen the economy, the government shifted its
focus towards export-oriented industries by attracting foreign
investors to Singapore to develop both the manufacturing
and financial sectors. Fast forward five decades and
manufacturing is now one of the key growth drivers of the
Singapore economy, accounting for about a fifth of the
countrys gross domestic product (GDP).
Pick up any IT gadget such as a mobile phone, laptop or
vehicle navigation system and chances are that parts of it
were designed or made in Singapore. About one in six people
in the Republics labour force work in the manufacturing
sector which is now broad-based and cuts across many
different industries.
According to the Economic Survey of Singapore 2014
report, the manufacturing sector improved from 1.7 per cent
in 2013 to 2.6 per cent in 2014, on the back of healthy growth
in the biomedical manufacturing and chemicals clusters.
The Economic Development Board (EDB) played a crucial
role in the countrys success. It helped to establish Jurong
Industrial Estate, transforming the area as factories sprouted
up to produce everything from garments, textiles and toys to
wood products and even hair wigs. Singapores strong
manufacturing base and the development of Jurong
Industrial Estate spawned many opportunities for local
companies and led to the growth of other related businesses.
In the third part of BTs CEO Conversations Golden
Jubilee supplement, we speak to some of the companies that
grew with Singapore as it embarked on its rapid
industrialisation programme.
One example is a logistics and warehousing player called
Vibrant Group, previously known as Freight Links Express
Holdings. Its CEO Eric Khua said that in the early years, the
group was doing imports and exports. When companies
import raw materials, we took care of delivery and
transportation to the end customer, he says, For exports,
Singapore used to be very strong in garments, we were doing
textiles. Subsequently we were doing electronics.
Heavy equipment supplier Tat Hong Holdings started out
as a tyre and battery shop but later moved into the import
and export of heavy equipment. The company provided the
earth-moving equipment for Jurong Industrial Estate, a
pioneering project in the countrys industrialisation efforts.
As Tat Hong approaches its 60th anniversary, its
managing director and group CEO Roland Ng says his
vision is to professionalise the organisation to ensure its
continued success. BY LEE U-WEN






Building the economy

Singapores strong manufacturing base enabled the country to industrialise rapidly as well as
lead to the growth of other related businesses
The art of work

Growing with the nation

A dream to hit 10,000

The economic miracle

Surpassing expectations

Shaping Singapore into a smarter nation


Transforming dentistry through branding

Riding on a wave of urbanisation


Adapting to the environment


Supplement editor: Lilian Ang Sub-editor: Lee Kim Siang Cover design: Gareth Chung Graphics: Airyn, Jennifer Chua Photographer: Joseph Nair
Advertising sales: Lam Wy-ning 9368 5685; Jaclyn Sim 8333 5665

2015 golden jubilee edition

The Business Times | Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The art of

Eddy Lim, CEO of office interior

designer Chez Design, adorns the
office walls of his clients with his

N SOME corporate offices in Singapore are framed paintings of Singapore watercolour portraits of the
old Fullerton Hotel in an asset
management firm, and oil paintings of orchids in an accounting
firm. Unusually, the pictures are
painted by the boss of the interior
design firm that renovated the offices. Eddy
Lim, CEO of Chez Design, draws out the links
between his work as an office interior designer and his hobby as an artist.
I believe in taking time to create masterpieces. This is what I like to do for my clients,
going beyond what is expected of us, Mr Lim
says. In art, in painting, you have to do it
properly to get a good result rather than rush
everything. Similarly a design firm should go
for quality, rather than volume. Every client is
unique, and we want to serve each one well.
Chez Design was founded by Mr Lim and
several friends in 1986, and has been providing interior design services for corporates
since day one. Over the last 29 years, the firm
has built up its client base from a broad range
of industries. It has established relationships
with landlords, property agents, developers
and vendors.
Key to the companys success was its ability to provide not just quality design and timely delivery, but quality after-sales service.
Challenges come when clients ask you to fix
small things, or ask you to reconfigure their
space when they expand or restructure,
Mr Lim says.
To do a good design, he studies a clients
history, customers and website to understand
how it would like to project itself, as well as its
future plans. What also helped was a healthy
business environment in Singapore, he says.
Singapores style of good governance has also
influenced him to run his company in a transparent way. Everything is upfront, transparent, clean. You get jobs based on merit. Companies respect your intellectual property, he
Today, Chez Design has around 50 employees in Singapore and Malaysia, out of which

there are 15 designers and 10 project managers. It has two factories providing carpentry
services, one in Woodlands and another in the
Iskandar region.
Clients include a range of big and small corporates, like banks, petrochemical firms, insurers, IT firms and shipping companies. We
are not picky. Small jobs today might be big
jobs tomorrow. We have designed offices all
over Singapore from the Central Business District to even Jurong and Woodlands, Mr Lim
says. Chez Design has also designed and built
offices in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia,
Indonesia, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates
and Vietnam.
Satisfied clients continue to engage Chez
Design to design their offices not just in Singapore, but also in the region. Our clients want
a consistent corporate image and an environment where their well-travelled staff can be
comfortable. We design their interiors here
and our very committed team of associates
and vendors in the region always ensure good
quality and timely delivery of all our
projects, Mr Lim says.
He says he tries to make stakeholders,
staff, and vendors feel like one big family. Every year, the company pays for a week-long
overseas trip. The company has gone to places like Nepal, Chinas Lijiang region, Japan,
and Taiwan. It also organises social activities
like karaoke sessions, movie outings, and
Christmas and New Year parties.
We believe making staff happy is important, as well as for them to have a balance between work and life, Mr Lim says. The
companys success and future does not just
depend on key personnel. Everyone contributes. In return, it is the companys obligation
to take care of its staff, he says. I try to emulate for my company what Singapore tries to
achieve, for its society to be happy and hardworking.
As Singapore progresses, Chez Design is also in a process of self-transformation. It is rebranding itself to become CD+A. The more
modern-sounding name stands for Chez Design and Associates. We are rebranding to


stay relevant to this fast changing environment, Mr Lim says.
Though Chez Design is very fortunate to
have many key staff that had been with us,
some for more than 15 years, the company is
consciously trying to balance the team with
newer and younger team members, he says.
Younger staff provide energy and new
ways of doing things, while more experienced
staff can mentor them and develop their potential. It is heartening to see different generations work together as a team at his firm,
Mr Lim says.
Looking ahead, he says CD+A will work
more with close associates in the region as
well as associates from other related fields to
provide a wider offering of services for clients. For example, it can work with architects
to provide input before an office building is
built. It can also work with partners specialising in signage and branding, key elements to
create distinctive environments within each
building, he says. CD+A will continue to win

In art, in painting,
you have to do it
properly to get a
good result rather
than rush everything.
Similarly a design
firm should go for
quality, rather than
volume. Every client
is unique, and we
want to serve each
one well.
Eddy Lim, CEO of Chez Design

clients hearts with functional, quality design

works which create an environment they can
operate in and enjoy, Mr Lim says.
Ultimately, Mr Lim sees close links between his work and his art. He has been an artist since he was in primary school, when he
was always called upon by his form teacher to
help draw images for lessons. Some 15 years
ago, he began learning how to paint from noted artist Ong Kim Seng.
Today, he travels everywhere with his art
materials. It still thrills me each time I put colours on papers or see an empty worksite transformed into a beautiful office for a happy client, he says. Their offices are like completed
watercolour pieces, framed and hung on
I would like to take this opportunity to
wish Singapore well. I have full confidence
that businesses with solid foundation, good
work values and with careful planning for the
future will again ride on the waves and thrive
as this nation progresses.

2015 golden jubilee edition

The Business Times | Wednesday, July 15, 2015


A dream to hit 10,000

ERA has kept itself busy training staff and reading the market for the next big shift

ESPITE being saddled with weak

property market sentiments,
Singapores largest property agency ERA has kept itself busy, generating activities to stimulate sales and
indeed, expanding its workforce.
In both 2014 and 2015, ERA
crossed the 6,000 registered salesperson mark. Not one to rest on its laurels, the firm already has plans to grow its base to 10,000 agents. No
mean feat given that in the last year alone, over 50 agencies have shuttered their business, and close to 4,000 real
estate agents dropped out of the industry.
But as summed up by ERAs chief executive officer,
Jack Chua, there are always people who want to buy, sell,
or rent regardless of market conditions. Our role, says
Mr Chua, is to find and facilitate the transactions.
Being able to read the market and adapt to it is one of
the agencys key strengths. In view of home loan curbs
denting the agencys sales for instance, ERA broadened
their focus and reach across various market segments in
order to drive more income to their agents.
From their traditional stronghold in new launches, resale and rental, ERA moved swiftly into the luxury, landed,
commercial and industrial segments. The companys research team provided regular market direction updates to
keep the sales force of over 6,000 nimble and responsive
to the market sectors that are moving. This differentiates
ERA from their peers in the industry.
Having the ability to generate activities to stimulate
sales and support their agents with value-added services
are the main ways ERA has kept ahead of the industry. It in
fact turned in a 10.6 per cent increase in profit after tax
last year, propped up by higher-margin investment sales
and commercial transactions.
Our business is to provide the solution to peoples real
estate needs; be it selling, buying or renting. We are involved in all segments of the market; from public housing
to private; from mass market to high end. We handle transactions in all sectors residential, office, retail, industrial
resale, new projects, leasing and auction, says Mr Chua.
One of the methods ERA has adopted to cope with
weak market sentiment is to sharpen the knowledge and
skills of their salesforce to be able to market both local
and overseas properties. These efforts include in-depth
training programmes to teach agents how to sell specific
property types in Singapore as well as properties in overseas markets such as Australia, China and Malaysia.
ERAs network across the Asia-Pacific region has also
helped it to sell local projects to foreign buyers. There are


Our business is to provide

the solution to peoples real
estate needs; be it selling,
buying or renting. We are
involved in all segments of
the market; from public
housing to private; from
mass market to high end.
Jack Chua, ERAs
chief executive officer

2,300 ERA offices worldwide, dotting 46 states in the USA

and 34 countries around the world. The ERA Asia-Pacific
headquarters is sited within the Singapore office and supports the ERA Asia-Pacific operations in China, Indonesia,
Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore.
Training has always been a cornerstone of ERAs culture. When the company started operations in Singapore
in 1982, it was the first to introduce structured, professional training in the area of real estate fundamentals and
sales, says Mr Chua. This helped to transform the real estate sales force serving the needs of sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants to become more competent and professional, he notes.
In addition to training, ERA has, over the last 33 years,
invested heavily in the use of technology to enable both
salespersons and clients to have the most up-to-date information on real estate. These include starting out on the In-

ternet as early as 1997, launching ERAMobile in 2002, and

in 2008 launching 98TXTERA, a messaging service that
provided instant real estate information. The company
has, more recently, launched its ERA mobile application
and launched a new ERA Singapore website.
Investing in these technology platforms helps to improve work flow using online resources, 24/7 so as to
make the process of real estate transactions more productive and efficient, says Mr Chua.
Separately, ERA unveiled its new corporate image earlier this year to mark ERAs 33 years of service excellence in
Singapore. The new, contemporary logo and brand identity retained the iconic roof symbol, while infusing a modern and contemporary element which communicates the
upward direction and positive momentum of the brand.
At a time when the real estate industry has undergone
vast changes in the way business is done, ERA Real Estate
has kept pace with the industrys rapid evolution, says
Mr Chua. The new visual representation of the brand reflects the journey that has been taken.
Enhancing their infrastructure, software and hardware
are all designed to maintain the companys market leader
position. This year, the company is pushing ahead with its
ambitious S$4 million expansion plan.
To bring greater convenience to customers, the agency
has, in addition to its office in Zhongshan Park, expanded
its operations to five areas a grand flagship office in
Mountbatten Square, a Toa Payoh central office and another office in SLF Building. To better serve its customers and
support its salespeople on the frontline, ERA also opened
a Premier Lounge and Service Centre in HDB Hub.
Whilst building size, we will also ensure that all our
salespersons will receive unrivalled company support
and training that will increase their proficiency, efficiency
and income, says Mr Chua.
Over the last 33 years, ERA has grown and progressed
together with the people of Singapore. In many ways, the
company has found ways to give back or lend a helping
hand to those that may not have been so fortunate. ERA
matches dollar for dollar, the contributions made to the
Community Chest by their agents and staff and the company has been a Community Chest Platinum Award Recipient year after year.
As the ambassador of the Singapore Association for the
Deaf (SADeaf), ERA raised some S$80,000 for SADeaf earlier this year by organising a charity walk that was supported by Ho Ching. When ERA changed its corporate logo this
year, the company collected back from the salesforce,
thousands of the corporate blazers bearing the old logo
and donated them overseas to needy recipients. We remain committed to our 1st in Service, 1st in Results and
1st in Client Satisfaction.

2015 golden jubilee edition

HERES nothing like taking a good look and

checking out a property
investment before you
put any money down,
contends Colin Tan
June Teng. The group
managing director of
the Hatten Group of Companies, Colin understands a buyer ought to be able to have a look
and feel of a potential property before committing his or her hard earned money.
To that end, the Investment Tour programme was launched. Organised for
Hattens potential clients in Singapore, it is a
free tour to the companys core developments
in Melaka, Johor and Negeri Sembilan.
This gives buyers a chance to get an
up-close look at our actual project sites while
experiencing first-hand the high potential of
the areas in which we operate. At the same
time we get the opportunity to interact with
our target market and to get to know their
goals and any concerns they may have.
Hatten appears to be reaping from the
strategy as the Singaporean-owned company
continues to make in-roads into Malaysia.
One of the country's fastest growing developers, the ten-year old developer is making
good of its founding objectives of venturing
into new territories by integrating
Singapores cosmopolitan ethics with local
Malaysian sensibilities.
A permanent sales gallery has also been established along Muhammad Sultan Road to
boost Hatten's contact points with its growing
pool of customers.
Because Singapore's real estate prices has
skyrocketed to levels unaffordable for some
Singaporeans, they can look to Malaysia - whether for a home or to diversify their investments.
They can avail themselves of an opportunity to secure high capital returns in a fertile
development arena, he says, noting by year
end, the developer will see the completion of
Phase 1 of Hatten City a 25-acre waterfront
mixed development fronting the Straits of
Melaka and valued at approximately RM2 billion (S$712.3 million).
Currently the largest real estate project in
the state, Hatten City is a blend of three

The Business Times | Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Hatten Group of Companies has big plans which
include a potential listing within the next few years
unique themed Phases which will feature retail, luxury residences, international hotels, office towers, resorts and shoplex.
Phase 1 will comprise 800 retail units, 700
residential units, and two hotel towers that
are referred to as the Elements Mall, SilverScape (a 45-storey luxury residence with 360
degree views of the vibrant coastal city), DoubleTree by Hilton, and the Teddie
Bear-themed Hotel.
The skyline transforming development
will inject massive capital into Melaka and provide more investment opportunities in the
state where Hatten is already a well-known
brand having established its credentials in the
hugely successful Dataran Pahlawan Melaka
The flagship project was followed by the
launch of Hatten Square Suites and Shoppes,
its first mixed development project which
was also well received.
Colin said the success of those developments provided Hatten the motivation to expand to other states.
In addition to Vedro by the River in Melaka,
and the Imperio Mall and Residence which
forms Phase 2 of Hatten City, the company is
now undertaking projects in Iskandar Johor
and Negeri Sembilan.
In Iskandar, it has begun work on Capital
City a 14-acre mall-hotel-SOHO development that is located on prime land in Flagship
A of the economic zone, while in Negeri Sembilan it is building a unique campus-based development called Unicity Lifestyle Campus
By 2020, Colin aspires for Hatten to be the
largest retailer in south Malaysia, having con-

structed over 5,000 retail units and five million square feet of nett lettable space which it
intends to manage.
Not one to sit on his laurels, Colin, a recipient of the Most Outstanding Entrepreneur
Award at the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship
Awards 2014, is already looking to expand into the state of Pahang, and into new ventures
including medical infrastructure, educational
facilities, arts & cultural arenas and brand franchising.
We are adaptive to the market environment and continue to challenge the status
quo by reinventing new concepts and catering to changing trends.
Our projects surpass expectations by
breaking new ground in high-potential areas,
producing outstanding architectural designs,
futuristic concepts and top quality functionality for one-of-a-kind developments.
Having amassed 44 prestigious international property awards thus far including
World Finance Real Estate Awards' Best Regional Developer Asia 2014, Colin does not intend to take his foot off the pedal.
Over the years, Hatten's employees - now
totalling 1,350 and comprising of 250 management executives, 400 construction crew
and 700 service staff have become familiar
with his bold, driven and uncompromising vision that has seen the group building up considerable assets over the past decade; it now
boasts an impressive 300-acre land bank in
Malaysia and a portfolio of property projects
with a total gross development value of RM5
Colin reveals another aspiration is to get
the company listed within the next few years

in anticipation that it will pave the way into

global markets. Hatten Group is a market
leader specialising in the transformation of
premier landscapes in Malaysia with core businesses in property development, construction, asset management and investment, and
a stunning portfolio of high-rise luxury mixed
developments, residential towers, strata
malls, and world-class hotels.
Our R&D team is adept at identifying
high-potential landscapes and gauging the potential for growth. With this invaluable insight
our operations are well-planned and capture
the right market to secure profitability and
maximum value added for our investors.

We are adaptive to
the market
environment and
continue to
challenge the status
quo by reinventing
new concepts and
catering to
changing trends.
Colin Tan June Teng,
group managing director of the
Hatten Group of Companies

2015 golden jubilee edition

The Business Times | Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Growing with the

Property agency OrangeTee has built up
a reputation for trust and innovation
in a competitive market

OR OrangeTee managing director Steven Tan, Singapores amazing

progress over the last 50 years holds
some valuable lessons for the real estate industry. Launched in 2000, homegrown OrangeTee is one of the
countrys largest property agencies
with over 2,100 associates in its sales
force. As the company expands in the region, it has leveraged on Singapores reputation to open doors to new opportunities.
When I travel overseas on a business trip, I always receive many positive responses and encouraging comments from my overseas counterparts when I tell them Im
from Singapore. This gives them a sense of assurance
when they start a business relationship with OrangeTee,
says Mr Tan.
Singapore has built a solid foundation as a trustworthy nation, associated with reliability, efficiency, and result-oriented. Such esteemed characters of a nation helps
Singapore companies to foster relationships, which is the
key to business success when dealing with overseas companies.
The global perception of Singapore as a trustworthy
partner is very much aligned with OrangeTees own core
values. Trust has always been the first core value of OrangeTee. Our people are always motivated to build a long
term and trusting relationship with customers and business partners. During day-to-day operations and decision-making processes, we always prioritise trust over
commercial gain, says Mr Tan.

Over time, the reinforcement of this philosophy has

fused with the DNA of the organisation and become part
of its service culture. For instance, OrangeTee agents are
always mindful to present themselves well when engaging with customers.
This approach has paid dividends. The number of complaint cases against OrangeTee has always been well below the market average, reveals Mr Tan. On the contrary,
the agencys salespersons frequently receive complimentary letters for their good service.

Integrate knowledge in innovation

OrangeTee has long employed innovation to stay ahead of
the competition, similar to Singapores own drive for innovation that has seen it escalating up the value chain over
the years.
Since its inception, the company has been applying various technologies to support the efforts of their sales
force. For instance, OrangeTees agents are able to retrieve
proprietary research materials and information from a
dedicated online portal to help add value to their
customers buying or selling decisions.
Meanwhile, key executives from the information technology, research, valuation and project marketing departments are also committed to enhancing the knowledge of
the companys salespersons.
We believe innovation is not just about technology. It
is about redefining our value proposition in a unique way
that differentiates us from others, explains Mr Tan. Although our customers live in an information-rich society,
we reckon that not all information is relevant and accu-


rate. Sometimes, too much information may mislead or
even confuse the customers. To value-add, we integrate
knowledge into our offline and online services.
Differentiating themselves from the competition has
become even more critical in recent years, as a softening
market and low-margin commission structure has resulted in smaller players merging.
OrangeTee has gained in this consolidation process;
with some 300 agents joining its sales team this year, a bigger than usual increase. "It is good for the industry to maintain a reasonable number of key and sizable players to
maintain a healthy competition. For long term, it will benefit the consumers, agents or even the property developers, says Mr Tan.
Moving forward, the company will continue to adopt a
diversified business strategy to provide comprehensive
services to its customers and business partners. Among
its many services, the agency is involved in residential
projects, business space, international projects, valuation, investment sales and advisory, as well as research
and consultancy.
In Singapore, OrangeTee is currently marketing residential and commercial projects such as The Panorama,
The Skywoods, The Meyerise and Vision Exchange. It has
also secured new projects such as High Park Residences,
Parc Life executive condominium, Wandervale executive
condominium, among others.
And while it is looking to expand its presence in

South-east Asia in the next few years, the company will remain very much an enterprise with a Singapore soul. We
are confident that with the continual support of our people and our unique business proposition, we can make OrangeTee a well-known brand in the region, says Mr Tan.
But OrangeTee is ultimately a Singapore born company, and we are privileged to be part of the success story of
Singapore. We aim to grow shoulder to shoulder with Singapore in another 50 years.

Trust has always been the

first core value of OrangeTee.
Our people are always
motivated to build a long-term
and trusting relationship with
customers and business
partners. During day-to-day
operations and decisionmaking processes, we always
prioritise trust over
commercial gain.
OrangeTee managing director Steven Tan

2015 golden jubilee edition

The Business Times | Wednesday, July 15, 2015

2015 golden jubilee edition

The Business Times | Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Core to the value system of DBS has

always been our strong sense of
purpose; a social agenda and
consciousness. This is deeply rooted in
our DNA, being a part of Singapores
history and playing a role in its
transformation into one of the worlds
top financial hubs.

Our ambition is to remain as the

best and the biggest wealth
manager in the region. We want to
be the trusted wealth manager for
individuals and business families
over the generations.
Edmund Koh, UBS Singapore country head
and head of wealth management of
South-east Asia and Asia Pacific Hub

Piyush Gupta, DBS Bank CEO

As we are a social enterprise,

we always put our customers at the
forefront through creating services that
go beyond just insurance that most
commercial companies offer. My vision
for the organisation is to offer our
customers insurance made different.

My vision for Prudential is to continue to be

the life-long preferred and trusted partner
for the protection and financial planning
needs of Singaporeans. I believe we can
continue to be worthy of this position if
we continue to be customer-centric.
Tomas Urbanec, Prudential Singapore CEO

In the next five to 10 years,

we see South-east Asian markets
poised for potential growth.
Our 'pull factor' is still very strong
in the region. Many of our clients
have voiced their plans for
expansion in the region.
E&E managing director Ronald Goh

Our strengths are in knowledge and

design. The developer knows that we
have the market know-how, and we can
give our input on what is best to build.
ZACD chairman Kain Sim

Ken Ng, NTUC Income CEO

The economic miracle

Being from Singapore, we are at the
heart of the fastest growing part of the
world. Fullerton participates in the
advancement of this dynamic region
by providing our clients with relevant
solutions and differentiated insights
through a local perspective.
Fullerton Fund Management CEO
Manraj S Sekhon

It is important for us to leverage

technology to enhance our real estate.
It is real estate plus technology
moving forward, thats how we are
going to have to operate.
Lim Ming Yan,
CapitaLand president and group CEO

Trust has always been the first core value

of OrangeTee. Our people are always
motivated to build a long-term and trusting
relationship with customers and business
partners. During day-to-day operations and
decision- making processes, we always
prioritise trust over commercial gain.
OrangeTee managing director Steven Tan

Marco Romahn,
Singapore managing director for PERI Asia

We are proud to achieve many

commendable feats in the last year
despite the industry headwinds. Besides
making great strides in our domestic
developments, we have successfully
expanded our international footprint in
markets such as Australia.
Anwar Syahrin Abdul Ajib, UEM managing
director/chief executive officer

We are adaptive to the market

environment and continue to
challenge the status quo by
reinventing new concepts and
catering to changing trends.

While it is still considered a

small- and medium-enterprise
(SME), Eurokars Group is an
ambitious company that has its
sights set on becoming a leading
regional dealership.

We see opportunities for growth

as we focus on providing more
to our customers, bringing them
the most value from our
collective strength.

Eurokars founder and

executive chairman Karsono Kwee

Saulo Spaolanse,
Schneider Electric Singapore president

June Rusdon,
chief executive of Busy Bees Asia

Moving forward, the company looks to solution

of sustainability, maintaining the strategy of
asset light, lean and efficient management,
win-win partnerships, to continue its
extraordinary success and growth.

We will definitely be a strong

regional bank, and not just a bank
but a financial services group
with a bank, an insurance
company, an asset management
company and a wealth
management business.
Samuel Tsien,
OCBCs group chief executive officer

We are privileged to have over 2,400

customers, spanning MNCs, local
enterprises and public institutions, and we
are committed to deliver quality services
and solutions catered to their needs.
Manohar Khiatani, Ascendas president
and group CEO and deputy group CEO of

Colin Tan June Teng,

group managing director of the
Hatten Group of Companies

In the next five to 10 years, we will

strengthen our base in Singapore
as the Asia headquarters,
contribute to the overall quality
index of early childhood education,
and put Singapore on the world
map for our ideas.

Von Lee, Expand founder and executive chairman

We will continue to work hard to raise

productivity and to sustain our
leadership in the construction market.


There is still a lot of infrastructure work

in the region. What we need is a system
so that we know what are the optimal
assets we should own. We want to
streamline our operations so that we
become healthier and can run faster.
Roland Ng, Tat Hong Holdings managing
director and group CEO

We have been working on

numerous projects including
promoting e-commerce and
contactless payments that will help
enhance the payment experience
for consumers in Singapore.

Our vision is to be an industry trendsetter by

developing and providing cutting-edge
solutions for governments and enterprises, to
create a brighter future and enhance the
quality of life for citizens and the community.

Ooi Huey Tyng, Visas country manager

for Singapore and Brunei

Lim Kok Quee, NEC Asia Pacific managing director

When a patient understands

what youre doing and sees that
you are doing good, they will
eventually feel the difference
and slowly introduce more and
more people to you.

MyRepublic is a low-cost,
lightweight but innovative local
company. We do a lot of things
in-house, whether its
developing IT solutions or
producing creative
marketing campaigns.

B9 chief executive officer

Raymond Lim

Singapore managing director

Yap Yong Teck

We are still at an early stage

but we see a lot of potential in
the region. If we get
everything right we could see
a quadrupling of growth in the
next five years.
Russell Anderson, managing
director of Asia Pacific Importers,
Jaguar Land Rover

We pride ourselves on our ability to

successfully execute mixed-use
developments, not only in terms of
delivering a well-received product,
but also in a cost- and
time-effective manner.
FCL group chief executive officer Lim Ee Seng

2015 golden jubilee edition

The Business Times | Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Shaping Spore into a smarter nation

Schneider Electric wants to help Singapore become a more liveable city by improving its infrastructure

HETHER its the Singapore Sports Hub,

Changi Airport or Esplanade - Theatres on
the Bay, Schneider Electric has played a key
role in ensuring that things run smoothly at
several of Singapores most iconic infrastructure developments. The global specialist in energy management and automation,
with operations in over 100 countries, ensures that anything from the simplest of switches to the most complex operational ecosystems help customers be more sustainable, efficient, safe and reliable. We believe that a smart city is an efficient city, a liveable city, as well as an
economically, socially and environmentally sustainable city these three elements go hand-in-hand, says Saulo Spaolanse, president of Schneider Electric
Singapore. It is a virtuous circle: as a city improves the efficiency of its infrastructures, it will be able to improve the public services it provides, which will
make it a better place, enhance its attractiveness, help create jobs and increase
its competitiveness.
Mr Spaolanse, who has been with the company for more than 10 years,
adds that Schneider Electric aims to help Singapore realise this vision with a
proactive model that anticipates future change and takes advantage of new opportunities, using innovative technology to make the city-state more liveable.
It does so by helping customers achieve more with fewer resources in an urbanised and industrialised world where the need for energy will continue to increase.
The Schneider Electric story began over 175 years ago, growing from a family business to a global conglomerate. From its beginnings in steel during the
Industrial Revolution to electricity and, more recently, to energy management,
the global Schneider Electric Group has made significant changes to its operations throughout its history. Today, the company has more than 170,000 employees worldwide and its consolidated revenue was 24.9 billion euros (S$37.3
billion) last year.
Schneider Electric is synonymous for its smart cities projects globally. It
has implemented more than 300 smart city projects in cities around the world
from Boston to Beijing. This initiative, in line with Singapores move towards
being a smart nation helps cities achieve their long-term sustainability goals
by improving their existing infrastructure and driving efficiency throughout a
citys operations with the help of technology.
There are many areas to make a city smarter and Schneider Electric has
many avenues to assist in this regard. One method is to have smarter buildings which enable owners and occupiers to monitor consumption of utilities
such as lighting and air-conditioning for better energy management. A second
method is to make water management smarter so as to reduce wastage. Thirdly, have a smart energy grid that will generate savings as consumption can be
optimised to meet spikes and troughs.
Fourthly, we work with city planners to have smart mobility to reduce traffic congestion, make better use of roads and put in place more efficient transport systems. Fifth, to have smart public services such as video monitoring
and emergency coordination to ensure the well-being and safety of citizens,
while digital services improve the management of education, health care, government administration and tourism.

Solutions for a sustainable future

As the world of energy is transforming, with the convergence of IT and energy


We see opportunities for growth as we focus

on providing more to our customers,
bringing them the most value from our
collective strength.
Saulo Spaolanse, Schneider Electric Singapore president
technologies, Schneider Electric offers energy management services that can
generate energy savings of up to 30 per cent. It also aims to develop the best
solutions that guarantee ultra secure, ultra pure and uninterrupted power, especially for critical applications.
At Schneider Electric, it looks at offering safe and efficient electrical and energy systems that are simple to use and yet help customers build a sustainable
future. Over the past year, it has picked up several awards and accolades in recognition of its sustainable development. The company was ranked 7th in the
worlds most admired companies in the electronics sector by Fortune magazine, the 10th greenest company in the world by Newsweeks Green Ranking,
and one of the 50 most attractive employers by Universum.

In Singapore, where the company has had a presence since the early 1970s
(as Telemecanique Far East Co and subsequently renamed to Schneider Electric in the 1990s), one of its biggest achievements was establishing its global
logistics hub, Hub Asia, in 2010, shared Mr Spaolanse. Hub Asia boasts a warehouse of 230,000 square feet with more than 7,000 references in stock. With a
customer base spread over 30 countries around the world, it shipped over
64,000 tons of products in the past year.
Some of its key projects in Singapore include the new Singapore Sports
Hub, which recently hosted the South-east Asian Games. Schneider Electric designed and delivered a customised power distribution system for the National
Stadium and the surrounding areas, including the OCBC Aquatic Centre and
OCBC Arena. The company also provided the modernisation retrofit solution
for the Esplanade. With this ECOFITTM solution, the Esplanade was able to reduce the downtime and increase cost savings.
Looking ahead, Mr Spaolanse reveals that Schneider Electric has more exciting projects in the pipeline. Last year, for instance, it partnered with the Nanyang Technological University to set up South-east Asias first micro-grid that
can tap and distribute power from multiple energy sources, including fossil fuels and renewable energy. This project will provide a full-scale test-bed for
Singapores ongoing energy research and could possibly pave the way for micro grid technologies to meet critical energy needs in Asia. It could potentially
tap new technologies that can stabilise power grids in urban communities, he
The company also consistently improves its business, using a measurement called the Planet & Society Barometer as its sustainable development
dashboard since 2005. We believe that a performance measure is required to
have a significant impact and initiate lasting change, which is why we have defined specific objectives and measure our results each quarter. The aim of our
Planet & Society Barometer is to mobilise the corporate community around sustainable development objectives and share our progress plans with stakeholders, says Mr Spaolanse.
Schneider Electric also regularly works with local and international organisations and associations on economic, social and environmental issues to foster sustainable development in cooperation with various players from society.
For instance, the company participates in various discussions on challenges related to climate change.
It also has the Go Green in the City initiative, an international challenge for
undergraduates to find clever solutions for energy management; and supports
the Solar Decathlon one of the largest global university competitions which
challenges students to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that
are cost-effective and energy efficient. Schneider Electric supplies the design
and engineering services, as well as the electrical distribution equipment required to connect the solar village to the utility service for the duration of the
event. Some of the organisations it works with on a global scale include the
United Nations Global Compact, European Innovation Partnership for Smart
Cities and Communities, Transparency International, and the Clinton Climate
While the business environment is uncertain, Mr Spaolanse remains optimistic. We see opportunities for growth as we focus on providing more to our
customers, bringing them the most value from our collective strength. More
competencies, better intimacy, more tailored solutions and deliveries, more
digitisation, more innovation and more simplicity, he says. We also work actively on a better return on the capital we employ, as we focus on our collective
efficiency and further integrate the capabilities we have assembled.

The Business Times | Wednesday, July 15, 2015

2015 golden jubilee edition


Transforming dentistry
through branding

A pioneer in the use of advertising in the local dentistry sector,

Smile Inc now plans to expand its footprint overseas

VISIT to the dentist is often synonymous with pain and tients to significantly whiten their teeth in just one visit is today commonplace
avoided at all costs by most. But this is an experience that in the country, but Smile Inc remains the only practice in Singapore to employ
Smile Inc has been keen to avoid, carefully calibrating the this Laser Teeth Whitening technology that is still touted as the gold standard
dental experience for its customers. And this achieve- in teeth whitening, says Mrs Tan. Smile Inc was also the earliest to fully compument helping to change the public perception of dentist- terise its operations, from the front office to the back room, she adds.
ry in Singapore is one that the firm is proud to highlight.
The group has grown its cosmetic dental practice as well, using a unique
The success of Smile Inc and its lifestyle focus has combination of artistry with cosmetic dental techniques to address the aesthetchanged the Singapore publics perception of the dental ic concerns of patients through its The Smile Inc Makeover trademark suite of
industry from one associated with pain and fear of visiting the dentist to one services. The procedures, which help to enhance the smile of its patients, can
associated with enhancing ones self esteem and confidence through an im- have a significant impact on their self image, confidence and quality of life,
proved smile, says its CEO and co-founder Grace Chong-Tan. Dentistry is no says Mrs Tan. This has led to the growth and popularity of cosmetic dental
longer about fillings, drilling and extractions, but providing the consumer procedures among the public and fellow colleagues in the dental industry over
with a myriad of choices: with procedures from maintaining and sustaining the past decades.
ones oral health to techniques on improving ones smile, in addition to restorSingapore has been a solid base for Smile Inc, she added, particularly with
ing dental function and aesthetics.
its stellar reputation for the healthcare
Established in 1997 by Mrs Tan and
industry, a highly trained workforce and
Ernest Rex Tan, the firm had set out to
excellent infrastructure, providing a
These steadfast qualities of
revolutionise the dental experience
strong foundation for Smile Inc to
from the beginning. It aimed to provide Singapore Inc are also well aligned
grow its business. These steadfast qualihigh quality specialist and general den- with that of Smile Incs, and Smile Incs ties of Singapore Inc are also well
tal care and services through the use of
aligned with that of Smile Incs, and
success today is a validation of the
the latest technologies and
Smile Incs success today is a validation
state-of-the-art facilities. These are set achievements of the former.
of the achievements of the former.
amid a patient-friendly setting with a
Given the limited domestic market,
strong emphasis on architecture and de Smile Inc CEO and co-founder Grace Chong-Tan however, Smile Inc plans to expand oversign like its current duplex-fronted denseas. With its strong brand and multiple
tal practice at The Sail at Marina Bay
awards and achievements, the company
which would help to allay patients fear of visiting the dentist, says Mrs Tan.
has received numerous expressions of interest and proposals from private
Architecture and design has always been an integral part of Smile Incs and institutional investors to advance its footprint overseas. It is in this rebrand. The firm set up its first reconstructive and aesthetic boutique practice spect that Smile Incs strategy for growth and expansion will take flight, and
at Mandarin Gallery in 2010, and then its duplex fronted dental practices at where opportunities abound, says Mrs Tan.
The Sail, Marina Bay Downtown in 2013 and at One Raffles Place last year.
As Singapore reflects on its 50 years of independence and looks back on its
The company was among the first in the medical and dental field to practise many achievements, Mrs Tan hopes for Singapore to continue having a strong,
advertising, now a commonplace practice for the sector. Advertising, previ- stable economy while continually making a positive impact on the global
ously not practised by the professional sectors, was important in assisting the stage, in politics, economic policies, environmental issues and in social initiapublic to be informed and be able to make educated decisions on their treat- tives.
ment choices, says Mrs Tan.
At the same time, there is an urgent need to tweak Singapores healthcare
The many accolades that Smile Inc has clinched are testament to its success- regulations in order for the city-state to remain competitive against its neighful branding. The group was recognised as the overall winner of the Estab- bours, she adds. We need to have our regulatory bodies in the medical and
lished Brands category at the Singapore Prestige Brand Award (SPBA) last year, dental fields be more open and not microscopic in their outlook.
the Oscars of local small and medium enterprises, and inducted into the
Singapore needs to liberalise outdated and conservative regulations that
Awards Hall of Fame. Before that, it had won the winner of Established hinder progress, and stifle Singapores passage to stay ahead in the healthcare
Brands for five consecutive years, from 2010.
game in the global arena, says Mrs Tan.
Along the way, Smile Inc has also notched up many firsts in the field. The
The ministry needs to continually work on building a regulatory framegroup was the pioneer in Singapore to introduce chair-side teeth whitening work that encourages progress whilst maintaining high standards in patient
procedures in Singapore when it first set up in 1997. The procedure to help pa- care in Singapore. . . One way forward is for the ministry to have open dia-


logues with Singapores private healthcare sectors and be more receptive to
our needs.
This is critical, especially as the costs of operating a healthcare business
rise in Singapore, with the lack of skilled manpower whether surgeons, nurses or auxiliary staff and the increasingly high costs of rental. These would
eventually translate into higher treatment costs for patients, Mrs Tan warns.
But no matter what comes, she is confident of Smile Incs future. Challenges will always abound and change is constant. Our shared vision with a committed core team and workforce as well as a strong focus on our key strengths
will stand us in good stead in our drive for growth.


2015 golden jubilee edition

The Business Times | Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Riding on a wave
of urbanisation
Even as it spreads its wings abroad, Tat Hong Holdings continues to
contribute to the development of Singapores infrastructure

FTER almost 60 years of growth,

heavy equipment supplier Tat Hong
Holdings is restructuring its business to capitalise on a new wave of
infrastructure development expected to sweep across Asia in the coming years. With a fleet size of over
1,500 crawlers, mobile and tower
cranes ranging in size from under 50 tonnes to 1,600
tonnes, Tat Hong is the largest crane company in the
Asia-Pacific region and seventh worldwide in terms of tonnage.
Over the past four decades, it has expanded its footprint to include Australia, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong
Kong, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. The company
services customers in industries ranging from construction and engineering to infrastructure and energy. The
sluggish global economy in recent years has given the
company an opportunity to consolidate its business, shuffling assets across their different markets to maximise productivity.
The business environment has changed in the past
two to three years, especially with China slowing down
and the impact on Australias resources industry, explains Roland Ng, Tat Hong Holdings managing director
and group CEO who is also the eldest son of its founder,
Mr Ng Chwee Cheng.
The slowing of the Chinese economy and the plunge in
global oil prices over the past year has resulted in projects
being scrapped or delayed in Australia, a key market for
Tat Hong. However, a pipeline of infrastructure projects
related to Asias rapid urbanisation means that there are

opportunities for the company in the region. The setting

up of a Silk Road infrastructure fund to boost connectivity
across Asia and the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank could also spur demand for its services.
There is still a lot of infrastructure work in the region.
What we need is a system so that we know what are the optimal assets we should own. We want to streamline our operations so that we become healthier and can run faster,
says Mr Ng. While their cash flows are still healthy, Tat
Hong is looking to reduce its capital expenditure and cut
the fat from its operations, he adds.

The right talent

As Tat Hong approaches its 60th anniversary, Mr Ngs vision is to professionalise the organisation to ensure its
success for many decades to come. As a family business
you can only do so much. In order to expand we need to
have an internal system that is more professional and the
right talent as well. We want to be able to sustain our business for the next hundred years, he says.
After being established in 1958 by his father as a tyre
and battery shop , Tat Hong moved into the import and export of heavy equipment supplying local and foreign contractors with earth-moving equipment and later, cranes.
Over the years, the company has played a role in
Singapores development since its independence in 1965.
It provided the earth moving equipment for Jurong Industrial Estate, a pioneering project in the countrys industrialisation efforts. Tat Hong was also involved in the development of many HDB estates as the country became increasingly urbanised. Its cranes were also deployed in the


many infrastructure and institutional building projects
such as transportation infrastructure, hospitals, schools,
universities and petrochemical plants in the modernisation of Singapore.
Besides its crane rental business, Tat Hongs original
trading and distribution business has likewise grown
through the years. It has been the leading distributor of Hi-

There is still a lot of

infrastructure work in the
region. What we need is a
system so that we know what
are the optimal assets we
should own. We want to
streamline our operations so
that we become healthier and
can run faster.
Roland Ng, Tat Hong Holdings managing director
and group CEO

tachi-Sumitomo cranes in the region for more than 10

years running. In Australia, it has a multi-equipment, multi-brand franchise for the distribution of cranes, mini excavators, road-making and other construction equipment.
In Australia, wholly owned subsidiary Tutt Bryant
Group, has a leading position across the crane hire, heavy
lift and shift, equipment sales and general plant and equipment hire segments. In China, Tat Hongs tower crane rental business is ranked among the top few companies and
has a market reach across 29 provinces.
Despite deriving around 80 per cent of its revenue
from abroad, the company is still helping with Singapores
development by the upgrading of its existing infrastructure whether its Changi Airports new terminals or the extension of the MRT rail network. There is a lot more we
can do in Singapore in terms of upgrading and modernisation. There are less factories to be built but more lifestyle
projects, says Mr Ng.
On his outlook for Singapore, he believes that the road
ahead will be a tough one that will require Singaporeans to
stick together. Its going to be tough for Singapore going
forward. There will be many challenges that we are going
to face and a lot that we need to do. However, I believe that
we are a resilient people and we can overcome the challenges ahead.

The Business Times | Wednesday, July 15, 2015

2015 golden jubilee edition

| 11

Adapting to the environment

Vibrant Group has expanded from its core freight forwarding and logistics business into complementary property and financial services arms

E IT garments and electronics in the

1980s or TVs and disk drives in the
1990s, Vibrant Groups warehouses
have serviced the needs of a growing
nation. The logistics and warehousing
player, which renamed itself from
Freight Links Express Holdings to Vibrant Group in end-2013, now has
grander ambitions. We have grown ourselves to more
than a freight company. We have added two core businesses real estate and financial services to our business
model, says CEO Eric Khua, whose family became a substantial shareholder of the company in 2003.
Mr Khua explains that Vibrants two new businesses began in recent years because they were complementary to
the traditional freight and logistics business. Now, they
are taking on a life of their own, he says.
Our logistics business needed warehouses, so we designed and built them ourselves with the property segment. Then we were able to securitise the warehouses
through our real estate investment trust (Reit), Sabana Reit, in the financial services arm.
The two segments had to expand on their own, so financial services went into fixed income, and property
went into real estate. We are doing a public housing
project in China. Were going into commercial property,
buying Cecil House and a 35 per cent stake in Equity Plaza, Mr Khua says.
Freight Links began in 1981 as a freight forwarder with
just six employees. It gradually established itself as one of
the top local players providing ship booking and custom
clearance settling services to deliver goods between countries in South-east Asia.
We took care of imports and exports. When companies
import raw materials, we took care of delivery and transportation to the end customer, Mr Khua says. For exports, Singapore used to be very strong in garments, we
were doing textiles. Subsequently we were doing electronics.
In 1989, the company expanded into the logistics business by building its first warehouse to provide storage
and inventory management services. In 1995, the company listed on Sesdaq, moving to the Singapore Exchange
mainboard in 1997.
The firm was embarking on an aggressive expansion,
buying warehouses and entering the crane business. It
was included as one of 55 stocks in the Straits Times Index
in 1998.
However, the company was hit by the Asian economic
crisis and eventually faced cashflow issues on lower revenues. Mr Khuas family, who is in the steel trading business, came to the rescue and became a substantial shareholder in 2003.


It was an opportunity for us, so we took the plunge.
We evaluated the investment, we think theres a lot of potential. The company had a very extensive network worldwide, Mr Khua says.
In 2004, Freight Links reported its first full-year net
profit in five years. The following year, it entered the
chemical logistics business. Vibrant Group is today one of
the leading companies in Singapore handling toxic, corrosive and flammable chemical cargoes, serving the petrochemical sector here.
On Jurong Island, Singapores petrochemical refining
centre, the company had completed a S$130 million
state-of-the-art warehouse, the Chemical Megahub, at the

Our strength in freight

forwarding and logistics is
also in our international
network. We work with 120
agents and connect our
customers to over 600
destinations worldwide.
Vibrant Group CEO Eric Khua

end of 2013. Vibrant provides transport and storage services, and drivers are specially trained to drive vehicles
containing hazardous chemicals, Mr Khua says. Singapore is the third-largest oil refining centre in the world.
Most of the chemical companies on Jurong Island are already our customers.
In 2014, Vibrants Catalist-listed associate Figtree Holdings, a developer, partnered with Vibrant to build a public
housing project in Jiangyin city in Chinas Jiangsu province. We were able to finance it, we could do project management, we did it at a better price and did things on time.
After we finish building the project, we sell it to the government, so were not taking market risk, Mr Khua says.
We know our costs, we use a Chinese contractor and
monitor them very closely. We built the project ahead of
schedule and have been invited to undertake a second
project which is five times bigger, he says.
Vibrant is also working with Figtree to build a high-tech
industrial park in Jiangsus Changshu city in the Yangtze
River Delta. Other ongoing real estate development
projects include a S$60 million warehouse in Gul Circle to
be completed next year.
A notable investment was in June 2014, when Vibrant
Group was part of a consortium to buy Raffles Places Equity Plaza from Keppel Land and its fund management arm.
Meanwhile, on the financial services front, Vibrant
Group is the manager and sponsor of Sabana Reit, which
was listed in 2010. It was the first and only Syariah compliant Reit listed on SGX, and the largest Syariah compliant
listed Reit in the world.
The group has a fund management associate, Sentosa
Capital, whose assets under management has grown close
to US$60 million. It manages a fixed income fund that invests in a broad range of sovereign and corporate bonds.
And in May 2015, Sentosa Capital won both the Best Asian
Hedge Fund ex-Japan and Best Asian Fixed Income Hedge
Fund in Eurekahedge Asian Hedge Fund Awards 2015.
Ultimately, Vibrant Group stays competitive by identifying suitable people for the task, be it freight and logistics, property development or financial services, Mr Khua
says. Our strength in freight forwarding and logistics is also in our international network. We work with 120 agents
and connect our customers to over 600 destinations
worldwide, he says. The company now hires 730 people.
In its last financial year, it hit record revenues of S$191.4
million and net profit of S$42.7 million.
Looking ahead, Mr Khua says the company constantly
needs to monitor and understand the market, while adapting to changing circumstances. Even like myself, having
started from where I was, I have been changing all the
time. Each time, people questioned: What do you know
about this? After weve done it, people ask me: How did
you do it!

Listed on SGX-ST in 1995, Vibrant Group Limited

(formally known as Freight Links Express Holdings Limited) is a leading logistics, real estate
and financial services group headquartered
in Singapore. It offers a comprehensive range
of integrated logistics services including international freight forwarding, chemical storage
and logistics, warehousing & distribution and
record management. The Group is also
engaged in real estate business in property
management, development and investment.
Its financial services include fund management, financial leasing services and asset and
trust management. The Group is the sponsor
and manager of Sabana Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), the worlds largest listed
Shariah compliant REIT.


To be a world-class integrated service

provider in logistics, real estate and
financial services

We harness the synergistic effects of

our capabilities in logistics, real estate
and financial services
We provide reliable and innovative
services to our customers
We deliver credible and sustainable
business growth

Vibrant Group Limited 51 Penjuru Road, #04-00 Freight Links Express Logisticentre, Singapore 609143 Tel (65) 6262 6988 Fax (65) 6262 6929 Web:

Co. Reg No. 198600061G


The Business Times | Wednesday, July 15, 2015