RAM SMAG Lifting Technologies Pte Ltd (formerly known as NSL Engineering Pte Ltd) (“RAM”) is one of the world’s frontrunners in container lifting device – specifically spreader. About two years ago, RAM became part of Salzgitter Maschinenbau AG (“SMAG”) Group through a joint venture, forming one of the world’s largest independent lifting device groups in both bulk cargo and container handling.
Mr Philip Lee joined RAM in 1993 shortly after graduating from the University of Glasgow (Scotland, UK) with a degree in mechanical engineering. In the next twenty odd years, Mr Lee’s eagerness to explore and swiftness to adapt saw him served in varied capacities including as an engineer, a product manager and a sales & marketing manager when opportunities arose. His diligence and passion for his job propelled him to rise to General Manager (Marketing, Sales and After-Sales) after working with the company for 13 years. And in 2011, when there was a need to fill the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) position, it was only a natural progression that Mr Lee assumed the role.
Mr Lee did not involve himself with steering and growing the business only after becoming the CEO. Rather, he had been a strategic mover in one way or another throughout the history of RAM. Mr Lee joined the company in early 1993, several months after the company bought the spreader business from an English businessman and he was the pioneer engineer to see to the smooth transfer of technological knowledge and expertise that led to the shift of spreader production from UK to Singapore.
And when Mr Lee was a sales and marketing manager, he knew the importance and power of good branding and worked to improve the RAM logo. Today, this trade mark has been registered in 44 countries so that RAM is internationally and favourably recognized in the global container handling industry.
Subsequently, with strong and sustained sales growth coming from China, RAM was faced with a pressing need to have a presence in the country so that it could be closer to its China customers and serve them better. RAM reckoned “going that extra mile” was necessary to enlarge its market share after having successfully entered the tough Chinese market. Together with the plan to increase its production capacities and the drive to reduce manufacturing costs by “offshoring”, RAM decided it was timely to set up a manufacturing plant in China. RAM relied heavily on Mr Lee’s acumen and good relationships with the Chinese customers and the relevant authorities in the entire set up. Thus in 2006, the China plant became operational. The new factory complemented the factory in Singapore and facilitated growth in sales. The lower production costs also allowed RAM to reposition itself to better compete in the global market. Mr Lee’s involvement and input, down to the choice of location, size and plant capacity were critical factors that enabled RAM to realize its business expansion plan and achieved the desired results.
In addition to capacity expansion, Mr Lee is well aware that the sustainable growth of RAM business hinges on the need to continually innovate so that there is healthy expansion to its product portfolio. Thus RAM’s product development strategy is based on anticipating and meeting the practical needs of port and terminal operators as well as striving for more productive and cost-effective container handling features and technologies to be integrated in its spreaders. RAM’s earnest effort in subscribing to this approach has resulted in 25 global patents in its name for a wide range of its equipment. In fact, one of its latest products developed – Revolver, has received international acclaim and received award for innovation and environmental friendliness in recent years.
Between 2013 to 2014, Mr Lee facilitated the due diligence exercise that ultimately led to RAM becoming part of SMAG Group (a German group), raising the profile of RAM which is advantageous especially when it competes in the European market.
Mr Lee counts himself blessed with the many opportunities he has. He is grateful to be in the position to steer, lead and grow the business. He noted RAM has come a long way from rejoicing with sale of a few low-end equipment to a local port in its early days to a group of international standing now:- RAM has subsidiaries in UK, Germany and China, and is supported by an intricate global network of Sales and Service staff/Agents strategically located in Peru, The Netherlands, UAE, South Africa, Ecuador and India, just to name a few. It employs over 350 people group wide and since its foray into spreader business in 1992, it has sold over 5,000 spreaders in 65 countries with over half of these in Asia. All this, Mr Lee humbly conceded, is possible not because of his effort alone but is the result of the dedicated workforce that stands behind him and the continued support from customers and suppliers.
Mr Lee is outspoken and has an affable character. He is bold and decisive when situations demand. Though highly fluent in Mandarin and less so in English, he more than commands the due respect from his staff, agents and business associates who are from many different countries and embrace a wide variety of cultures. He values loyalty, teamwork and friendship and takes great joy to get to know his staff and their families. He is a “people’s” leader who believes that a happy person at home is a productive employee at work. Being a true blue Singaporean, Mr Lee loves local delicacies, including hawker food. Besides this expected “hobby”, he is also keenly interested in photography.
Beneath his rather stern countenance, belies the softer and lighter side of him as he sometimes reminisces how he was love stricken when he met his wife to-be during his studies in Glasgow. Even though they spent a mere 19 days together in UK before she had to return to Taipei, long-distance romance continued through perseverance and commitment. Mr Lee also strongly believes in giving back to the society. He personally champions and sees to the organization of annual staff visits and collective fund contributions to orphanages and elderly homes in China. In Singapore, RAM has been a sponsor of “Corporate and School Partnership” program and a participant of “Love Movement”.
Mr Lee noted that being the CEO can be stressful and challenging at times. The uncertainties of economic condition and market demand can easily derail and delay business plans. But having the right focus and attitude is important. As the saying goes: “天行健，君子以自强不息；地势坤，君子以厚德载物” (meaning as heaven maintains vigor through movements and earth’s condition is receptive devotion, so a gentleman should have a learning spirit and constantly strive for self-perfection), Mr Lee is optimistic that RAM’s directed innovative spirit to always improve and adapt will see to it remaining highly relevant as a business partner and a preferred brand, sought after in the container handling industry both now and in time to come.