Mr Alan Koh, Managing Director of Alric Group of Companies, has humble beginnings in business. He was exposed to the world of business at a fairly young age when he shadowed his father, who manages an electrical wholesale business. With a keen interest in entrepreneurship and the early exposure, he started off doing electrical and maintenance work. His first company, Alric Engineering, was a modest set-up established in 2000 with only two persons doing freelance projects. Over the years, the company grew from strength to strength and began taking on projects for reputable organisations such as Shell.
“It was when we encountered our first F&B client in 2004 that we truly found our niche. Back then, there wasn’t any company that boasts design, construction, M&E installation and maintenance services all under one roof in the F&B market,” Alan recalls. Having seen success with Alric Engineering, the ambitious Alan began to rethink and re-strategise. Alric Projects Pte Ltd was thus born in 2004, with conceptual design, procurement, on-site execution and maintenance services as its core business make-up.
With unique expertise and competitive edge, Alan positions Alric as the design and fit-out leader in the F&B area. “We not only built our clients’ restaurants, our expertise also extends to designing their central kitchens and cold storage areas. Since we’ve the knowledge and technical skills, our clients count on us to design and build their offices, central kitchens, as well as supply and install their cold rooms, kitchen equipment, among others. “We aim to be a one-stop solutions provider for F&B clients,” Alan says. As everything is done in-house by Alric, the cost for clients is reduced without the usual mark-up on subcontractor prices. Alan proudly puts it, “We’re trusted because we’re Cheaper, Faster, and Better.” Which is why major F&B companies such as Hai Di Lao, Paradise Group, Itacho Sushi, Dian Xiao Er entrust Alric with their projects. “We’re efficient because we deal with the same scope of work on a daily basis. We also have economies of scale and are highly attuned to the F&B industry,” Alan explains.
Today, Alric has a staff strength of nearly 180 employees and a group turnover of S$38 million. It has capabilities in commercial, industrial and residential projects, and always strives to create innovative design concepts that address the needs of their clients.
Leading by example, Alan loves to be personally learning the ropes so that he can be the best in every aspect of his business. A typical day for the energetic entrepreneur includes discussions about layouts and designs with his team, value engineering with the project team to lower cost, approving procurement orders of Singapore and China offices, among many other errands. He believes that learning by doing is necessary for cultivating the essential knowledge and skills to be continually competitive in the business.
Being an entrepreneur is like running a marathon. Having run the race for many years, Alan understands that he needs talented individuals to run alongside with him. While the biggest challenge is to empathise that not everyone works in the same way as he does, Alan has learnt to people manage and work with a diverse group of talents over the years. He also firmly believes that grooming newcomers is essential to the continuity and success of his business. That is why he is always generous in sharing his knowledge and strategies with his staff. His office is always open to his employees who can drop by anytime to brainstorm or share
ideas. He often says “If you don’t ask questions, you’re asking for trouble.”
While Alan may sound like the stern boss, he really is the humble employer who makes it a point to reward his team. To celebrate the end of every project, everyone can look forward to the much- loved ‘tradition’ of feasting and drinking at the clients’ restaurants.
Giving back to society has always been close to Alan’s heart as well. The company makes annual donations to old folks’ homes and distribute goodie bags at one-room estates in Singapore. Cleaning and refurbishing an orphanage in Batam is also on the corporate agenda this year.
Being forward-looking is crucial to succeeding as an entrepreneur. What does the future hold for Alric? Alan says, “We want to further establish ourselves as the preferred contractor for F&B companies.
To do that, we’re not looking to expand the company. Rather, we’re looking internally to further increase productivity. We’re aiming to continue to reduce our costs and pass on these savings to our clients. Alric is also venturing into deploying technologies to improve our products and services. We’re currently exploring new services and products such as Biometric systems, on-site and real-time management of employees, as well as integrated procurement system. These systems will greatly improve our efficiency in servicing our clients and also allow us to carry out our tasks at a lower cost, for the clients’ benefit as well as ours.”
From a rookie learning in his father’s shadow to a successful entrepreneur, what does Alan have to say to people who are aspiring to trail blaze their own paths in business? ”Fail fast, learn fast, fix fast.”