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Steely determination to succeed

Hock Seng Hoe Metal MD overcame numerous obstacles to build up its reputation as a reliable structural steel provider

"Winning awards helps to raise the profile of our business... but a key benefit for us has been the positive impact on team morale. We all work very hard and believe in what we do. To get recognition for that gives us an extra lift. It provides validation that you're doing a great job, which makes you feel good." - Sam Chee Keong, managing director, Hock Seng Hoe Metal Co

ONE Asia Awards 2015 Notable category award winner Hock Seng Hoe Metal Company Pte Ltd was established in Singapore in 2009 and is now a reputable structural steel provider. Its core business includes providing quality steel materials for the construction, shipyard, oil and gas and the offshore marine industries.

Services such as hot-dipped galvanising, sand-blasting, cutting and bending and fabrications of steel and metal products are its strengths. The company's vast experiences enable it to provide its clients with timely, cost-effective and professional service, says managing director Sam Chee Keong.

"There is only one business philosophy which drove me to my position today: transform the impossible to possible. Upon start-up of a business, many things won't work out the way you want them to. Instead of making excuses, I will try to solve it. They probably won't get fixed right away. However, I know I will eventually get there.

"I have tried my best to expand my customer network locally and overseas and it has contributed to the fundamentals of running my own business.

"I can keep challenging myself because I know that each day will be filled with opportunities to learn something new and think creatively. But ultimately, I would say the overriding factor in my success is my belief in myself. I always believe in my ability to succeed no matter what."

In Mr Sam's view, a successful entrepreneur carefully weighs the risk of opportunity. As a business owner, he has to protect his own business. "Entrepreneurs have to think twice before making a decision and analyse the potential consequences of all plans before coming to a final decision. An entrepreneur has to grasp new opportunities as they arise. Treat it as a challenge to learn something new and think creatively."

As for his entrepreneurial journey, there are numerous obstacles in the beginning. "At first, I have to figure out the competitive advantage of my company and arm it well to compete in this industry. Individuals don't win in business, teams do. My strategic business team is made up of my financial adviser, attorney, legal adviser and other specialists - they are part of my competitive advantage."

Knowing that he couldn't differentiate on product or material, Mr Sam sought to compete on service excellence. He positioned the company based on reliability and quality, and these became the company's key differentiating factors. Hock Seng Hoe Metal Company set standards to deliver its products on time and guaranteed quality both in product manufacture and service delivery.

Mr Sam says winning the One Asia Award will help him to grow his business. "One Asia Award is a cost efficient way to build brand recognition for emerging technology companies and much cheaper than paying for advertising or costly public relations agency fees.

"Winning this award is media-worthy news and I can get coverage in everything from print to social media. That's great exposure for my business that money can't buy. It will help me get more business."

Mr Sam says there are many benefits of participating in entrepreneurship-promoting awards such as the One Asia Awards.

"Winning awards helps to raise the profile of our business. Often media coverage follows if you win and such exposure can be good for business. Some awards offer cash prizes, too, but a key benefit for us has been the positive impact on team morale. We all work very hard and believe in what we do. To get recognition for that gives us an extra lift. It provides validation that you're doing a great job, which makes you feel good. Winning an award from a well-known, respected organisation also provides a major stamp of credibility," he adds.

What advice can he give to budding entrepreneurs, especially in view of the slowing global and Singapore economy?

"The slowing down of the global economy puts many investors and businesses on edge, placing huge uncertainties on the market and businesses. Risky investments put investors at higher risk of suffering a potential loss. Even good companies take a beating during these challenging times, though they will usually bounce back from it. Weaker companies may even go bust in such uncertain market situation. Thus, SMEs should reduce risky investments. Additionally, to brace yourself for a slowing economy, having an emergency fund is important."