Jason's journey from ITE to IPO

Jason's journey from ITE to IPO

Jason Sim, managing director of Jason Parquet Specialist, was never one of the more promising students in class.

In fact, by his own admission, he simply "couldn't study".

He was retained in both Primary 4 and Primary 6, and only passed the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) on his second attempt.

Things did not improve when he went to secondary school, and he failed his Secondary 1 examinations as well. He thus enrolled in the Vocational and Industrial Training Board (VITB) - now called the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) - for two years before enlisting in the army.

Fast forward to today: Mr Sim's company lists on the SGX Catalist, and boasts a $2.7 million profit after tax for the 2011 financial year. But success did not come easy.

Upon completing his National Service, he became a general worker for a renovation contractor.

This entailed doing all sorts of work - tiling, installing kitchen cabinets, being a deliveryman.

Fortunately for him, he was also tasked to do parquet flooring.

This became a passion.

He felt he could "take the timber industry to another level because there was so much more to timber than what others realised". At the same time, he knew that others did not want to venture into the industry.

It looked like it was going to be a dying trade as most of the people involved were from the older generation.

This being the case, he felt he had some sort of advantage and could bring in new ideas.

Thus, in 1987, at the tender age of 21, he set up a sole proprietorship and set out to do parquet flooring. "At that point, I had no money," he says.

He had no choice but to beg suppliers to give him timber on credit terms.

While some turned him away, there were a few who took a gamble with the then-unproven entrepreneur.

The business grew and Mr Sim made his first million in 1990 - three years after striking out on his own. Things were looking promising and Mr Sim thus chose to incorporate Jason Parquet Specialist in 1993. The company's main areas of business involve supplying and installing timber flooring as well as distributing timber products and flooring accessories.

Jason Parquet Specialist began as a small outfit with one office worker and about five project coordinators.

Mr Sim knew a number of main contractors because he had started out as a general worker in the industry.

Through these contacts, the company was put in touch with even more main contractors.

"At that point, the main contractors did not know about (my company's) quality. But I gave them a good quote, and came across as sincere," he says.

That, apparently, was enough to set the company on a successful trajectory.

Its first major contract involved installing teak parquet flooring for a residential development in Orange Grove Road, D'Grove Villas.

Even though that contract was not a very lucrative one - Mr Sim estimates that it was worth a couple of hundred thousand dollars - it set in place the momentum for the company to win more contracts.

Over time, the company cemented its reputation as a reliable parquet flooring specialist.

Mr Sim attributes this to the fact that, among other things, the company used proper equipment, did not cut corners, was punctual and honoured promises.

Nowadays, the company doesn't have to source for business from main contractors. Instead, "they look for us", he says.

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