Chee Fatt’s hands-on approach to selling industrial tools
June 20, 2018 | Singapore | OSEA2018 Industry Insights
Third-gen leader Ivan Poh, who currently serves as Director of Sales at Chee Fatt, shares with OSEA the importance of possessing soft skills in the hardware business.
Ivan Poh, Director of Sales at Chee Fatt
Chee Fatt, an OSEA2018 exhibitor and leading industrial tools supplier in Singapore, had humble beginnings. Business began in a humble zinc roof hut more than half a century ago in 1952 at Sungei Road, which was known for its hardware stores.
Led by second-gen entrepreneurs today, Chee Fatt has since extended its products and services across multiple verticals such as Marine & Offshore, Oil & Gas, Aerospace, Building & Construction, and Energy.
They were also one of the first to embrace technology back in the 1980s; an online portal was set up and eventually transformed into a comprehensive e-commerce platform. Today, the company has also expanded its presence in Malaysia and UAE.
Third-gen leader, Ivan Poh, who currently serves as Director of Sales at Chee Fatt, shares more about the company’s philosophy and plans for the future.
Q: How is 2018 looking for Chee Fatt?
A: Busy, even though the industry is not very buoyant at the moment. However, we’re expecting the second half of the year to yield better results, with new projects on the horizon for the oil and gas industry.
Q: Anything exciting in the pipeline for Chee Fatt?
A: We’ve got several projects planned, such as manufacturing our own range of industrial hand tools and bettering our e-commerce platform. Chee Fatt is also looking to expand overseas; we’ve ventured into Malaysia and United Arab Emirates in recent years.
Q: Can you tell us more about the industrial hand tools Chee Fatt is developing?
A: Chee Fatt’s customers will be familiar with our expertise in supplying industrial hand tools across various industry verticals. However, aside from representing more than 50 brands in the market, we also aim to develop a house brand with products that can fit into more targeted verticals.
Q: Speaking of expertise, Chee Fatt is known for its hands-on approach when it comes to doing business.
A: Traditionally, hardware stores stock up on physical goods and wait for customers to come in and buy. In fact, a lot of them are still pursuing this business model. For us, however, we believe in being proactive, rather than reactive.
We reach out to our customers in person, so that we can understand their pain points and recommend the right solutions accordingly. For example, it’s important to us that our sales personnel have strong product knowledge and are able to advise our customers well.
Q: Can you share with us how your career at Chee Fatt began?
A: Chee Fatt is a family business. I joined the company some 15 years ago with my cousin as third-generation entrepreneurs. I was previously working in the IT industry, but my family felt it was time for me to start learning the ropes at Chee Fatt, as it will be handed to us one day.
Q: Considering your background in IT, what are your thoughts on digital transformation for the company?
A: Although Chee Fatt has traditional roots, the company has always been very forward-thinking, always trying to reinvent things. For example, we were one of the first to embrace technology and set up an online portal back in the 80s. Today, it is evolving into a full-fledged e-commerce platform. We also embrace professional ERP systems to help us manage the business effectively. We are currently using SAP B1 but being forward looking, we are adopting a cloud based Oracle system to meet our future needs. And even though we are a family business, we do hire professionals outside of the family where necessary.
Q: Is Chee Fatt actively hiring at the moment?
A: We’re always actively hiring for talented individuals, as we recognise the importance of a good team. As for our existing team members, we often send them for training where possible. It’s important for them to be equipped with strong product knowledge and the right skill sets.
Q: Chee Fatt will be exhibiting at OSEA2018. Able to share what Chee Fatt will bring to the table?
A: We will be focusing on one of the brands we carry, Ridgid. Ridgid is well known in the industry for its piping tools. In fact, our participation in OSEA2018 was driven by the brand’s support to exhibit.
Check out Chee Fatt at OSEA2018 from 27-29 November 2018, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore!