Name of Recipient:
Mr. Chong Shang Kian
E-Trust Automation Pte Ltd was started in 2001 by Mr Chong Shang Kian with an initial manpower of just 3 workers including himself. Over the years, the company has expanded to now having manpower of 15 as testament to the success the company has achieved.
The company specialise in service, repair and maintenance of vessel automation system such as monitoring system, gas detector system, fire alarm system, tank gauging system, air circuit breaker, generator and crane system as well as the design and fabrication of control panel.
Mr Chong’s decision to start his own business was triggered from his vision to not work as an employee for a company forever and to have a fixed monthly income but rather, being financially self-sufficient.
Having worked in the marine industry for more than 10 years, Mr Chong has always had this sense of achievement whenever he was successful in troubleshooting problems and this sparked off an idea to delve into this field.
Coincidentally, the very first piece of business Mr Chong had was from his ex-manager who himself had left the company earlier to set up his own business as well. “He really gave me a lot of support such as giving us service order and recommending new customers to E-Trust.” Mr Chong shared.
However, problems arose soon after the company was set up. “One of my shareholder left less than a year after the company was set up because he couldn’t take the stress level required for the job.” Also, being a small company, there was a lack of customer base initially due to the absence of trust and the company was unable to offer service to ship management companies or shipyards. The company was on the red dot and there was clearly a need to have a strategy to reduce cost and increase revenue.
Nevertheless, through recommendations and word of mouth, business began to pick up. “Being small, it also means we can be flexible when it comes to price negotiations” and that was indeed the company’s strategy to avert its problems as it was providing a service rate that was much lower than the market price. Furthermore, to maintain a healthy cash flow for the company, Mr Chong had not drawn out his salary for almost two years from the day the company was set up. To set itself from the rest, besides providing a very attractive price package for its service, Mr Chong ensured that customer service and quality of service provided was improved such that “customer requirements are always met at all time and we are attentive to their needs”
In addition, Mr Chong expects the level of competition to be even more intense in the next 5 years with the entry of more new players. Coupled with the current pessimistic economic outlook of the economy, ship owners are likely to tighten their repair budget which will mean lesser business for the company.
Be that as it may, Mr Chong felt a high sense of achievement being the service agent of JRCS products, whereby JRCS is a well-known manufacturer of alarm monitoring system and main switchboards in Japan.
To Mr Chong, entrepreneurship is not just only a means of setting up a company and running it. It also means a responsibility to look after the welfare of all the employees in the company. It is akin to “taking care of your own family members”, providing a safe and conducive environment for all the employees so that they have a sense of belonging to the company. Ultimately, as an objective, it should be about profit maximising.
Lastly, Mr Chong espoused that for those who want to start their own businesses, “you need to understand the industry and be prepared to face challenges, stress, and vagaries of the economy”. Also, “be realistic in setting targets” and “treat your customers with integrity and be responsible to them”.
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