Winning the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award (APEA) under the Transportation and Logistics Industry is a proud moment for Danny Lo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Watt Wah Petroleum Haulage Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of the Watt Wah Group. “It is validation of the best practice we have implemented in our business”, says Lo, adding that the award will be a morale booster for Watt Wah employees.
The first time APEA winner is a fuel transportation company that started as a family business in the late 1970s. It was incorporated in 1998 and is now a subsidiary of Watt Wah Group Holdings. A major player in the fuel transportation sector, Watt Wah transports petroleum products to petrol stations across Singapore. Its clients include ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell.
Lo graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the National University of Singapore and learnt the ropes of the business through pure hard work and determination. The business required comprehensive technical skills in terms of technical knowledge of the trucks and tankers, and Lo had to start from ground zero. Through sheer determination, he picked up the details from the technical requirement of each model of trucks to the general technical drawing of the tankers. “I had to roll up my sleeves to go under the tanker to inspect and find out the different components of the tankers,” recalled Lo. This step by step learning curve enabled Lo to be on top of the business. His never-give-up attitude and the strive towards perfection is what makes everyone in the company and its customers admire Lo. In his own words, “I do not believe in running away from problems and passing the buck to others. One has to learn from problems to succeed. The path to success is never an easy journey. Only when we go through the ups and downs then we discover the right way to success”.
When Lo came on board as its Managing Director in early 1998, he introduced a slew of changes to improve the way the business was run. “I saw an opportunity to innovate the business with new technological assets and management skills to make Watt Wah more than just a fuel transportation business.” Under his leadership, the customer base expanded from one oil company to three oil companies, including the blue chip companies. “I do not only go for volume sake. We must give customers the confidence in what we do and business will naturally come in”.
Being practical, strong willed, decisive and efficient sizes up the traits that are in Lo. Besides these qualities, Lo is analytical, logical and cautious in his business approach. He recognizes that being swift to innovate is key to maintaining the company’s lead in the market. His accurate reading of the changing market trends and his persistence to bring the business to the next level has helped to set the company apart from the rest of the other transporters. An example is the upgrading of Watt Wah’s petroleum tankers. The vehicles are equipped with the latest state-of-the-art features such as GPS, Geofencing, CCTV, Electronic Brake Systems and Roll Stability Program. Lo believes that this improves the efficiency of deliveries as there are fewer breakdowns. “It increases the reliability of our service and productivity of our operations, and put us one level up in our service to customers, and increase customer satisfaction.”
Being a persistent and organized leader, Lo keeps a tight watch on the management supply-chain efficiency to ensure everything runs smoothly from start to end, starting with meticulous planning of the driver’s daily delivery schedules. Lo stresses on accuracy and efficiency in its operation and this is firmly rooted in all its staff performance. “We need to ensure the drivers deliver the right product to the right station, at the right time.” The drivers undergo comprehensive and orderly training. New drivers are required to undergo rigorous training for two months before they get behind the wheel. Drivers are given annual refresher courses to keep their skills up to date. On the road, they are expected to abide by strict safety protocol. “Safety is our top priority in this business.” Lo takes pride that about half of Watt Wah’s drivers have been with the company for 15-20 years. He treats his drivers like family as he believes that “drivers who feel a sense of belonging and ownership will put 100 per cent into their work.”
As an enterprising leader, Lo is also looking at overseas expansion of the business. He hopes to expand and develop the business further on a regional scale. Earlier this year, Watt Wah opened a Hong Kong subsidiary, with plans to expand to China and Cambodia.
Throughout his 18 years in the business, Lo has won numerous awards, national, regional and international. Under his leadership, the company was awarded the Global Hauler of the Year by ExxonMobil, overtaking 300 international haulers from 5 continents. The company also won the “ Chevron Global Hauler of the Year” award in 2006 . On a national scale, Watt Wah was awarded the Enterprise 50 Award, putting the Company among the top 50 companies in terms of business model and financial performance in Singapore. “Winning awards is a recognition given by others from their perspective. It give us the adrenalin to do better as well as a passport entry point to more businesses with our partners”.
Lo is a man with a vision to succeed and his desire to execute a task to perfection, with integrity and passion is what makes him a true self made entrepreuneur.