Two-time Enterprise 50 (E50) award winner Feng Ming Construction Pte Ltd has been riding the crest of Singapore's construction boom of the last few years.
The 24-year-old company's core business - the provision of civil engineering solutions and services such as the building and maintenance of roads, drains and sewerage systems - has recorded rapid growth, especially in the last four years, coinciding with the roll-out of major infrastructure and housing projects by the government.
Feng Ming now secures up to $90 million in projects each year, with the types of projects having grown in scale and complexity. To deliver on them, its staff strength has had to be doubled in the last four years.
As at now, Feng Ming has a hand in driving key projects such as improving the infrastructure in the Jurong Lake District and the reconstruction of Sungei Whampoa.
But Feng Ming's managing director, Lim Hong Beng, knows well that longer-term sustainability will not come by merely riding the industry's cycles. Moving forward from hereon is going to require visionary leadership and effective management.
The slew of awards Feng Ming has won in the last few years alone more than hints that he, as leader at the helm, can deliver on both these fronts with his tough, head-strong style: On top of E50 awards in 2011 and last year, Feng Ming also bagged the 2010 SME Growth Excellence Recognition Award, the 2012 SME One Asia Award and the Singapore Top 100 Excellence Award 2011/2012.
Mr Lim set his sights on a career in civil engineering from the time he was a child. He had seen - and been inspired - by how his childhood kampung was redeveloped into a public housing estate; at the age of 19, he became a salaried employee for a civil engineering firm, a stint that lasted all of four years before he quit to set up Feng Ming.
Through the last two decades of its growth, he has had one abiding guiding principle - that of striving to build life-long partnerships, be it with his clients or his employees, and conducting business honestly.
As he puts it: "Feng Ming is in the business of selling sincerity", a process which wins the company the trust and confidence of his clients - and repeat business and a solid reputation in the industry as well.
"We sit with clients and ensure that we clearly understand their objectives before coming to an agreement that allows for a win-win situation for everybody."
Feng Ming's engineering and operations teams are on standby 24/7, on the ready to tend to clients' emergencies.
The company's vision, "Create Life-Long Bonds", has brought it the unwavering support of its client base, which has enabled the company even to weather the difficult years.
Feng Ming's director of tenders and contracts, Mel Koh, said that Mr Lim's "hard" and even intimidating demeanour belies a soft centre which consistently shows concern for the well being of his employees.
As a result of the signals he sends, the atmosphere in the company is familial, and staff turnover is considerably lower than in the industry.
Mr Lim, asked what his plans are for the company going forward, said he wants the company to:
- Attain the A1 grade awarded by the Building and Construction Authority in its Registered Civil Engineering Contractor Construction Workhead category: Feng Ming was recently awarded the A2 grade, the second-best among seven grades, which makes Feng Ming eligible to tender for projects worth up to $85 million. Mr Lim wants the company to achieve the highest A1 grade by 2015, so that it can tender for projects of unlimited value.
- Step up its presence in overseas markets: Mr Lim said the markets in Malaysia, Myanmar, East Timor and Laos, for example, offer significant growth potential.
- Go public eventually.