Our company will be closed from Dec 30th - Jan 4th 2024, and will resume operations on Jan 5, 2024.

NLES Interview - Sharing insights on Construction Industry over the years

Nylect Engineering

Mr Sim, Managing Director

Five year industry forecast

Mr Sim predicts that over the next five years, there will be an overhaul of the construction where those companies who are unable to weather the current challenges will collapse.

He explained that there are some companies on the brink of bankruptcy who put in unrealistically low bids just to win jobs, as a last-ditch attempt to better their situation.

On the other hand, the stronger companies will survive, while new companies will continue to merge and come into the scene.

Mr Sim pointed out that he witness similar observation in the 1980s and Asian Financial Crisis. However, he has yet to see a crisis on a scale like COVID 19.

He added that companies must keep up with the latest innovations, such as big data. Companies will be eliminated if they insist on sticking to their usual ways of doing things or when approaching a problem.

Company aspirations for the next five years

Mr Sim re-emphasized the importance of constant innovation, as well as the need to attract and retain talent.

How does the company attract and retain young talent?

To attract and retain talent, the company offers a profit-sharing scheme and a high level of autonomy to its employees. However, Mr Sim warns against this possible scenario: an employee can easily win a tender by deliberately underbidding, with plans to game the profit sharing during the first few years of the project; and then leave right before the project starts, leaving the company to make losses in the later years. It is then critical for the management to have the proper safeguards and systems in place while providing autonomy for its employees.

There are also those who leave after gaining the necessary knowledge and experience. He mused that being able to retain two or three out of ten employees is already considered very good. It is then important to ensure an open company culture and flat structure so that the company is not being too reliant on a single person or team. This will also encourage a culture of learning and empowerment amongst its employees.

hallenges the company faces in hiring talents into the Engineering industry

He acknowledged that it is very difficult to attract fresh graduates as many lack interest in the industry.

It is not easy to be in the construction business, and there are employees who leave when they are unable to bear the tough work.

What are the company’s top three priorities over the next five years?

Mr Sim advocates the cultivation of strong technical skills, building strong financials and nurturing an extensive network of contacts.

What are the main factor(s) for the company’s success?

Network (must know the right partner to work with), Service & Quality (Strong technical knowledge and service levels that could gain long term trust and confidence from clients/customers) and Work Smart (having strong team work and systems in place)

What is the company’s culture?

Serve everyone (regardless within or outside of company) with a sincere heart.

The company emphasizes respect for the opinions of all employees and giving them high levels of autonomy. Nevertheless, Mr Sim, as the founder and director, will go down personally to help employees whenever issues arise.

Mr Sim also makes it a point to share the responsibility for problems, and bear whatever hardships and challenges together with his employees.

What changes has Mr Sim observed in the industry over the years?

During the early 1980s, one could easily earn profits as long as someone was hardworking. But as time went by, one must also constantly learn and improve on technical skills and knowledge. Companies must also explore new ways of doing things and be daring to venture into new projects to be one step ahead of others (i.e. the company started from their core M&E works and expanded into turnkey projects (value engineering), data centers projects etc).

Mr Sim added the importance of understanding the needs of the client and offering what the client wants.

In the past, he had more tenders where everything was already set out by the customer. Today, the company is usually given a blank slate and have to conceptualize and design everything starting from the ground up, while at the same time, ensure full compliance with regulatory and customer requirements.

Nevertheless, he does prefer such arrangements for projects as they have more freedom and flexibility, as well as more control over direct costs.

However, it is also natural that many clients still hire consultants for the jobs for a second opinion in validating their work, and they have to work hand-in-hand with these consultants.

Lessons learnt during COVID 19

Mr Sim offered three key lessons learned from his many years of working experience:

  • Don’t spend everything during profitable times, always have some reserves set aside for bad times.
  • Know when to cut-loss.
  • Always face up to mistakes and focus on getting things right. Do not waste time trying to push the blame and responsibility around.

What impression does Mr Sim have of the Japanese companies he has worked with before?

Mr Sim had very good experiences working with Japanese companies in the past.

He feels that Japanese are very diligent, attentive to details and willing to listen to the views of others.

Japanese companies are also very trustworthy and collaborative.

What message does Mr Sim have for Japanese companies?

Mr Sim emphasized the importance of being trustworthy and When collaborating on projects, together we should work together toward our common goal to deliver high quality workmanship!

Please contact GPC if you have any questions regarding your market entry into Southeast Asia or vice versa, expand into Japan.
Our consultants will assist in advising the best solutions for your business.