Recognised for Excellence in the Region

Singapore companies made their mark at the most recent instalment of the ASEAN Business Awards

Whether it was for financial performance, digital innovation or skills development, five Singapore companies were recognised for their excellence at the latest edition of the ASEAN Business Awards (ABA).

Since its launch in 2007, ABA has recognised more than 100 companies throughout the region that have excelled in categories such as Growth, Employment, Innovation and Corporate Social Responsibility. Organised by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, ABA 2019 was held on Nov 2 last year in Bangkok as part of the ASEAN Business & Investment Summit.

BizQ highlights three local companies that made Singapore proud at ABA 2019.

Staging a strong comeback

Winning the top honour in the Growth segment of the SME Excellence Growth category was homegrown premium seafood company Oceanus Group. The company was recognised for staging a strong financial turnaround when it successfully completed a debt restructuring exercise in December 2017 which saw it move from a negative to positive asset position.

Oceanus was also lauded for diversifying its business and creating new revenue streams for long-term sustainable growth. Since 2017, the company has expanded its presence to more than 10 countries, and has diversified its businesses across four key pillars: aquaculture, distribution, services and innovation.

“This award is a strong endorsement of our team’s collective efforts to steer the company back in the right direction. This will spur us on to further harness synergies from our four growth pillars, which are highly scalable, and ensuring sustainable long-term growth for our shareholders and stakeholders,” said Oceanus’ CEO Peter Koh.

A taste of success through digitalisation

Meanwhile, KH Roberts Group, a developer of custom flavour solutions for food and beverage consumer brands, was the Singapore winner in the ABA’s “Most Promising digitalized MSME category.” The company embarked on its digital transformation journey over a decade ago when it began to digitise its proprietary information for easier compliance with increasingly stringent regulations.

“Our secret formulations and processing information were previously kept under ‘safe and lock’ in paper form. All that changed more than 10 years ago, when business growth accelerated and food regulations started tightening around the world. Our regulatory team needed to refer more frequently to the formulae to check for compliance. That was when we recognised the urgency to have this data digitised and centralised for quick efficient access,” explained Tan Pok Kiam, general manager – sales/group marketing, at KH Roberts Group.

The company did not stop there and has continued to digitalise more of its operations in the ensuing 10 years. Most recently in 2018, the company moved into a new integrated flavour manufacturing facility, which uses automation and digital solutions to improve productivity. A single production team at the new facility is now able to manage multiple production work orders at any one time, compared to just one single work order previously.

Going forward, KH Roberts intends to improve its customer experience through an upgraded digital solution that provides more timely updates on shipments and deliveries. More automation will also be introduced into the production and warehouse processes to facilitate movement of materials and improve efficiencies.

Delivering new skills through training

Local logistics company Shalom Movers has long been committed to helping their employees sharpen their skills through training and education. The company works with educational institutes and government agencies to help raise the professionalism of not just their own staff, but the industry as a whole, said Gideon Lam, CEO of Shalom Movers.

Reflecting its commitment to skills upgrading, the company even helps to write the curriculum for some industry training courses.

For its dedication to this cause, Shalom Movers was named the Singapore winner in the ABA’s Skills Development (Mid-Tier) category. “We recognised early on the transformative effect of education. It gives our people a sense of self actualisation, and it motivates them to want to do better for their family,” said Mr Lam.

The company holds a graduation ceremony for its staff whenever they complete courses certified by the Institute of Adult Learning and the Institute of Technical Education. Among other benefits, Shalom’s training efforts have helped it to retain manpower in a tight labour market. Around one in five employees stays on a the firm for five years or more, better than the average for the moving industry.