Forever a Taiping boy in heart and soul, Chong Chee Hing is a product of the strictly regulated La Sallian School having had his early education at St George’s Institution in Taiping. He was the younger of two siblings who was inspired by his late father, a school teacher and later his mother who single-handedly raised the two boys and ensured that they were well educated and independent. With this early upbringing, Chong was always a top academic performer in his school and earned a place in University of Malaya to pursue a Civil Engineering degree in 1983. From young he was always taught that hard work pays off and going through tough times was not something new to him. “In 1987, during the worst economic recession, I graduated from University of Malaya, with a degree in civil engineering but was only offered a salary of RM600 per month for my first job in a Japanese company,” he recalled. However, Chong realized that a career in civil engineering was not what he wanted in the long term.
In 1989, during a recruitment drive by the Hong Leong Group of companies, Chong landed a job as a Sales Engineer in Hume Industries. Working in sales turned out to be enjoyable for him and he naturally became the top sales performer in the pre-cast concrete division for four consecutive years. During his years in Hume, he also gained precious knowledge and experience in conducting training and seminars on pre-cast concrete products. “I was thrown into the woods by my then General Manager who also asked me to reply to product complaints and proposed solutions to large infrastructure projects,” said Chong but he knew the lessons learned were invaluable.
His first step towards the Dry Mix Mortar Industry started in 1993 when he was given the opportunity to start the construction chemicals business in Malaysia for Ssang Yong Cement, a Singaporean conglomerate. “I knew nothing about the business back then but during the interview, I was given two weeks to draw up a business plan for the new business in Malaysia” quipped Chong. At the end, he was offered the Country Manager position and was given the first task to set up the office. He spent five years learning the A to Z of construction chemicals, in particular the dry mix mortar business. The products were revolutionary and were fast replacing the traditional cement sand site mixing in the construction industry.
Chong’s passion for better construction technology and business motivated him to venture out with a few partners to start his own dry mix mortar business in the late nineties. Together, they built the largest integrated mortar plant in Malaysia. The challenges of the economic recession during the late nineties did not hinder their goals as the construction in Putrajaya started at that time. The main construction company in charge, Putra Perdana accepted the use of the new technology and the rest was history. Coincidentally, Putra Perdana remains a dear customer of Chong until today.
Through the years Chong revamped his business strategies and from his hard-earned technical and marketing experience, he formed Corporate Excelsior (M) Sdn Bhd and the registered brand of POLYMIX in 2004. Under Chong’s leadership POLYMIX became a market leader in pre-mixed plaster and mortar products. It is the preferred choice of leading construction companies and architects in Malaysia for cement based mortar products. Chong is the current Managing Director of Corporate Excelsior (M) Sdn Bhd and its subsidiaries and remains hands-on in sales and marketing as well as the overall operations of the company.
The Group supplied to some of the most prestigious projects in Malaysia such as the Pavillion Shopping Mall and the Gardens Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur and the KLIA LCCT 2 Airport and also high end condominiums such as MARC Residency, KL Eco City, Dua Residency and M-City in Kuala Lumpur; Icon City in Petaling Jaya; Gurney Paragon and Quayside in Penang; Puteri Harbour and Sky 88 in Johore Bahru; and The Shore and Hatten Square in Melaka. Chong has also guided the company to make its presence in South East Asia mainly through consistent export of POLYMIX products to Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and Brunei. Through his visionary leadership, the Group has consistently achieved strong growth in turnover with an average of 30% per year since its inception in 2004. From a turnover of RM5 mil in 2005, the company has now surpassed a Group turnover of RM100 mil per year.
The Group now owns two state-of-the-art automated manufacturing plants in Perak and Johor with a capacity to produce 180,000 ton of dry mix mortar per year. With sales, marketing and administration offices in Petaling Jaya and Johor, it has a staff force of 45 employees which consist of a staff ratio of 30% of each main ethnic group of Malaysia. Many of them are long serving employees with over half of them having worked for more than 5 years with the Group.
The Group received the UKAS ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System certification in 2005 and the Green Label Certification from the Singapore Environmental Council for eco-friendly building materials in 2011. The company is also the first dry mix mortar manufacturer to have successfully implemented the mechanized spray application (IBS) system which is an economical and efficient method of applying the dry mix mortar to a total of 2,000,000 sq. meters notably in high end condominiums in Kuala Lumpur.
Chong is always passionate about his business and strongly believes that “everything is measurable in numbers” in managing his organization. He has implemented this principle among his staff from the sales and marketing team to his finance team. An example is the Key Performance Index (KPI) for all employees within his organization.
What makes Chong different as an entrepreneur is his willingness to go beyond his comfort zone to do something different or even create a new market. That is why he is a staunch believer of the Blue Ocean Strategy in creating new markets. Chong also has a personal favorite saying of “always fight a good fight” which he constantly preaches to his sales personnel. One of his traits at work is always motivating and encouraging his sales and marketing people to approach each potential or existing customer using a unique strategy and approach. He would always ask them to “think outside the box” to close the deals. During his leisure time, Chong likes to read non-mainstream online news and is an ardent follower of political news. Therefore, he can sometimes be seen staring at his iPhone 6 for the latest online news apart from communicating with his team.
Chong also led the company in CSR projects, including funding school projects and helping the farmers in villages surrounding its plant in Perak. In addition, the company also selects a charity organization every year in order to make their contribution. The contribution usually goes to fund the education of under privileged children which is a testimony of Chong’s personal belief that education is a key to becoming a successful entrepreneur.