Name of Recipient:
Mr. Lee Sea Kiat
A legacy is only built when the right elements converge at the right time. Some ventures may not stand the test of time and fall by the wayside, forgotten. Some leaders may be getting on in years, and fail to find someone else to carry on the journey for them. But a select few are fortunate enough to withstand various trials and tribulations, and emerge from the other side greater and better than ever before. One company that is on the way to creating such a legacy is Techco (Private) Limited, a wholesale distributor, trader, and supplier of indirect materials to various industries.
Established in February 1968 by Mr. Lee Kuan Swee, Techco just very recently celebrated its 45th anniversary, a mark of how far they have truly come since the start. Their product range is vast, including but not limited to electric screwdrivers, handling and cleaning tools, microscopes, magnifiers, x-ray systems, precision scanners, and much more. Their success in this industry can be seen by the amount of markets they have managed to break into; they now have offices in Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Philippines, and Thailand.
As he has been getting on in years, Mr. Lee Kuan Swee has passed down much of the company’s day to day responsibilities and operations to his two sons, Mr. Lee Sea Yean and Mr. Lee Sea Kiat, since 2004. Mr. Lee Sea Kiat had first joined the company’s sales office in Shenzhen, China, to learn from the basics and gain more exposure and hands-on experience and later set up a branch in Suzhou. With his engineering background, he was a huge asset given Techco’s product range and the company’s direction. Hence, when he took over in 2011, it was not a difficult task for him to transit to the position of Technical Director.
However, the transition did not come without its issues. Mr. Lee elaborated, “Since I was from the second generation, and don’t know much about managing a company, I had little confidence. I had to figure out a way to gain the trust and support from all the staffs, especially those who are much more senior and experienced than me.” In addition, due to declining sales turnover in the years prior, the staff morale has been low, and the economy was still undergoing a downturn, especially from the electronic and manufacturing industries.
To counter them, Mr. Lee knew that he has to be the one to lead the company out from the somber atmosphere. With constant improvement of product knowledge, patience, and dedication through careful planning and improving sales turnover, Mr. Lee demonstrated his ability and invited the others to place their trust with him. To further foster team spirit, Mr. Lee organized group activities such as company trips, injecting a positive vibe within the team and letting them feel that the workplace has a fun atmosphere to work within. In addition, the company decided diversify their product and service range to other industries, such as the education, healthcare, and the oil and gas sector.
These methods yielded very positive results for them. Now, Techco has completely shrugged off the gloom of previous years, and are achieving better results than before. This was seen in their 12% overall sales increase last year, even though admittedly the economy was not doing so well then. This also showed Mr. Lee that he is able to take over the challenges of the company and improve it from there, which was a great morale boost for him as well. To such great successes, Mr. Lee attributed much of the credit to his General Manager, Ms Lee Sok Hon, whose assistance and planning had reaped rich rewards for the company. At the same time while heading the export department, she was also covering local sales during a period of time when Techco were shorthanded. In addition, she has helped to plan and give suggestions for the company’s trip itinerary; in fact, she is already planning this year’s trip. Paying tribute, Mr. Lee says, “She is truly an invaluable staff member and a great asset to our company.” Mr. Lee also attributed this result to their selling value rather than products. He elaborated, “Although other companies are asking for the lowest price possible, but our products can last much longer. We insist on providing quality products at a reasonable price.”
Mr. Lee also credited his father as a motivating figure. “I consult him for advice but he never tells me what to do. I take heed from his advice and make my own decisions. This is how I learn myself, but he helps me to avoid huge mistakes at the same time.” Under his father’s tutelage, Mr. Lee picked up many qualities that are essential to an entrepreneur’s success. He shares, “You must have creativity and sincerity. Creativity to come out with something new, but at the same time having sincerity to market it instead of purely thinking about profits. Honesty is the best policy. Always do business with ethics and gain trust from your customers.”
With such values in mind, the Lee family has led Techco out of their slump and into a brighter future ahead. They now plan to move into the oil and gas industry, an area which they feel has great untapped potential for their company. They also plan to incorporate online interactive selling, opening another avenue which business is able to arrive. Seeing as how the Lee family has helmed the direction of Techco’s resurgence, we have no doubt Techco will only continue to reign as a force to reckon in this industry for years to come.
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