Instil 'can do' spirit in staff, SMEs urged

PHOTO: Instil 'can do' spirit in staff, SMEs urged

SMALLER firms need to generate a mindset change among their staff to instil a "can do" mentality, said Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday.

Mr Tan told about 220 representatives from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that bosses should work on motivating their workers to get the best out of them.

"You need to imbue that 'it is okay if we fail, but we get up and try again' spirit in your employees... (and they will) go the extra mile as they believe they are an essential part of your team," he said.

Mr Tan added that innovation does not have to be the "big-bang type of changes" or "tied to technological advancements". It can come in small packages - like free consultation on product care at a store - but go a long way.

The event also involved honouring the top 10 private firms in the Enterprise 50 (E50) Awards at Resorts World Sentosa.

Excavation specialist Soon Li Heng Civil Engineering topped the rankings this year. Executive director Ong Jun Quan told The Straits Times that successful diversification helped it to victory.

"We were able to recycle waste concrete by processing it into smaller pieces, which could then be sold and used for making building materials or even roads," said Mr Ong. "This value creation gave the business an additional revenue stream."

Second was boutique property developer Teambuild Land Group, which was co-founded by executive director Cheong Geok Meng, who started the business during the global financial crisis in 2008 when "land was cheaper".

Teambuild Land Group has been involved in more than 10 projects, including residential developments such as The Vue, Mosella and Cerelia Vista.

Borden Company, which makes the home-grown Eagle Brand Medicated Oil, was third.

The firm spent the last decade introducing new product lines such as balms, muscle rubs, plasters and disinfectant sprays to appeal to younger buyers and differentiate itself from its competitors.

"Tapping the Government's Productivity and Innovation Credit scheme helped subsidise the cost of a new machine," said managing director Christopher Yeo. "With it, we were able to meet the orders from our customers and achieve better sales figures."

A standout among the top 50 this year was Jay Gee Enterprises, a fashion retailer selling labels such as Levi's, Dockers, T.M. Lewin, Aldo and Holland & Barrett among others.

Jay Gee's seventh place was its seventh E50 award; it was also the only fashion retailer among the 50 winners.

Managing director R. Dhinakaran said yesterday: "The business is facing several challenges, including the manpower crunch from difficulty in hiring locals for retail positions and new international brands coming onto the market.

"Big brands like H&M, Uniqlo and Abercrombie & Fitch have deeper pockets and higher margins, so they are able to pay premium rentals at prime locations."

To keep up with the competition, Jay Gee is looking at how it can offer specific brands in each of its markets, rather than hold on to its "all brands in all countries" approach.

The other E50 winners were given their awards by Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck at a separate ceremony yesterday morning.

Mr Teo encouraged small firms to adopt corporate governance principles from the get-go, regardless of their size.

"The value of doing so will become apparent when a company reaches a stage when it contemplates an initial public offering," he said at the ceremony.

The E50 Awards, now in its 19th year, was organised by The Business Times and KPMG in Singapore, and sponsored by OCBC Bank.

Enterprise 50 Awards' Top 10 winners

  • 1. Soon Li Heng Civil Engineering
  • 2. Teambuild Land Group
  • 3. Borden Company
  • 4. Wee Tiong
  • 5. DLE M&E
  • 6. Star Controls Engineering
  • 7. Jay Gee Enterprises
  • 8. Excel Precast
  • 9. Seiko Architectural Wall Systems
  • 10. Falcon Incorporation

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