Atlas inspires dreams across generations through the power of sound and vision. Beyond passion for great audio and visual products, Atlas truly cares about the experiences they create for people and the relationships they help foster. Everything that Atlas touches — from products and partners to customers and staff — is an integrated effort to connect people with each other and their dreams. Atlas spans across generations, beginning as a humble record library in Market Street in 1963 set up by A.B. Tien and his wife Jeannie. Atlas started with renting music and then branched out to provide sound consultancy and began offering sound equipment as well.
Now guided by the next generation of the Tien family and an expanded team, Atlas is building on its deep rooted passion for sound and vision to bring its expertise across generations, from families to music lovers to youths. Atlas has been an expert in music since the beginning, in step through its transition from records, to 8-tracks, to cassettes, to CDs, to today’s digital formats. Understanding how music and media are so ingrained in people’s lives, Atlas seeks to share their insights beyond simply sound, and into the latest, most inspiring lifestyle trends and technology.
Michael is currently the Executive Chairman of Atlas Sound & Vision Pte Ltd. He was instrumental in rejuvenating the business after the 1985 recession and in co-creating the Atlas Retail 3.0 Experience. His dynamism and leadership have led Atlas to be the 95-person strong committed and passionate team it is today, with a new generation of leaders which Michael continues to guide and to advise. Michael was Singapore’s Top Entrepreneur in the Entrepreneur of Year Award 08 (a Rotary-ASME Award), and one of APEA Singapore’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2009. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from Manchester Business School. A devout Christian, he is currently pursuing a Masters in Divinity and is married with three children.
Michael Tien feels that the Atlas Experience does not end at the store. “We look at the entire service flow, starting from the time the customer steps into the store. The Atlas experience does not end when he leaves the store. In fact, it’s only the beginning. That’s our mindset. We hope that in time to come, when customers think of sound or vision, he will think of Atlas.”
Michael is instrumental in co-developing the company’s service frameworks and procedures that have become the hallmarks of the store experience which is widely known in the industry as the ‘Atlas Experience’. Michael is also a key driver of the business evolution of the company. Seeing the need to stay relevant in the new economy and seeing the changes in consumer behavior, Michael led the company into a series of business model evolution from Retail 1.0 (focusing on the product), to Retail 2.0 (focusing on the customer), to Retail 3.0 today (focusing on delivering an omni-channel experience to the customers).
Michael knows how beautiful sound complemented by a world-class sound and theatre system can really improve quality of life. With a curious and creative mind, he is constantly envisaging ways to improve the Atlas service experience and to innovate new product offerings. In re-inventing itself, Atlas constantly adds value to customers and remains a step ahead of its competitors.
An in-depth understanding of the market and needs of his customers enable Michael to turn around the business during the 1985 economic crisis. The company was able to recoup and rebuild almost immediately, securing profits beyond their expectations within a very short period. A host of awards followed consequently, including ‘The Most Improved Sales’ among distributors (Bose) in 2005, and the Singapore Prestige Brand Award in 2006 and 2007. Again, through outstanding customer service and offering something that consumer needs, Michael steered Atlas to chart its greatest percentage growth during the 1997 Financial Crisis. Even with the SARS outbreak in 2004, Michael overcame business challenges with unconventional solutions.
When their family home-grown music business was hard-hit in 1985 by the economic crisis, the Tiens had to sell their cars, house and business. However, this did not discourage Michael from making a comeback. With limited funds, he started retailing audio equipment again from scratch and grew it to the Atlas it is today.
Michael believes in empowerment of employees and stays true to this belief by allowing autonomy within each employee’s job scope, translating into a sense of job ownership for each. For instance, product launches and warehouse sales are all run by operation managers, product managers and the marketing team. Michael does not get involved in running these events and provides suggestions only when asked. This greatly aids in instilling a sense of achievement and to increase job satisfaction and loyalty to the company. Michael’s greatest hope for each of the employees is that each of them can develop into their own entrepreneurship. Using his lessons from the ‘school of hard knocks’, he hopes to inspire them with his passion and relentless pursuit of excellence.
The Ability Skill Knowledge Programme was initiated by Michael to assess the managers’ career goals and passion so that the company can help them reach new levels in their career paths. The assessment starts with personal interviews to ascertain the managers’ passion and career goals. Thereafter, the company will evaluate and if necessary, plough in resources to sponsor their respective studies or courses. This is partly to recognize their efforts and partly to propel them in their career paths. In recognition of his enterprising spirit and approach to business, Michael was conferred the Doctorate (Entrepreneurship), Honoris Clausa in 2008.
Michael announced his plans to ‘retire’ in 2013 as he would like to shift his attention to other things having been in this business for 30 years and as CEO for the past 10. He remains as Chairman while not involved in the day-to-day affair. The inspiration that shapes Michael’s thinking throughout his career has been none other than the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minster of Singapore.
Besides having an umbrella of reputable brands under Atlas, its service standards have also been rated significantly above the rest. Atlas has proven itself to be one of the most trusted and reliable brands in service excellence, with several accolades to its names such as the GEMS Award (2008) and Service Star Award (2009). In 2008, Atlas came up tops in its category in a Mystery Shopping Experience Survey organized by the Singapore Retailers Association in 2008. Atlas received the Premium Service GEMS award in the Lifestyle category. As a market leader, Atlas has also won many accolades, showing its capability to constantly challenge the industry standards by setting new performance benchmarks.
Atlas currently has four showrooms and a Care Centre with over 80 touch points, comprising renowned retailers such as Harvey Norman, Challenger & Epicentre, each with its own extensive network in strategic locations around Singapore. At the B2B level, Sovis, a subsidiary of Atlas Sound & Vision Pte Ltd conducts projects that cater to affluent private homes, hospitality, places of worship, educational institutions, offices and retail & F&B outlets amongst other commercial establishments.
The same business model is also applied to Malaysia. 3 showrooms cater to the retail segment, with an independent team providing AV solutions simultaneously. On top of these, the Malaysian team also manages its channels marketing through a network of resellers.The total staff strength of Atlas Sound & Vision (including the local B2B subsidiary, Sovis) is 95 with annual revenue of $25mil.
On 19 July 2016, Padifield & Sons Ptd Ltd (the investment arm of Atlas Sound & Vision Pte Ltd), Singapore and Suixi County, Zhanjiang City, China, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to be the lead enterprise to collaborate on developing and coordinating investments for Suixi County’s Zhong Xin Eco-Intelligent City Project Construction. Padifield and Sons was the result of a trail that Michael’s mother had blazed for him 13 years ago. It is an organization that is driven by passion and a belief in the transformative influence of culture and the arts. These values are similarly rooted in the values of the company that she left in his care, Atlas Sound & Vision.