Managing director Mr. Tan Poo Seng of Topzone E&C Pte Ltd is a man who honours his words, even if he has to suffer a loss. The local construction company was incorporated in January 1997 formerly known as Top Zone Construction & Engineering Pte Ltd with a paid-up capital of $2.4 million, specializing in the construction of temporary facilities such as site office, workers dormitory, sub station, link-way, hoarding, fencing and noise barrier; provision of manpower management; and supply of crane equipment with specialist operators. The company was renamed to Topzone E & C Pte Ltd. on 08 August 2016. The company actively participates in public and private projects.
The company specialises in the construction of temporary offices and dormitories, the supply of crane operators, manpower and dormitories management. The company team currently consists of 30 office staff and 600 skilled workers a far cry from their humble beginning of five employees. This has been made possible under the leadership of their director, Tan Poo Seng, who has overseen the company’s steady increase in annual turnover over the last few years. Tan studied civil engineering at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and worked for four years before decided to venture out on his own. The company began its operation modestly and gradually grew to be a trusted establishment in the construction industry.
Over the years, Topzone has established their reputation as a reliable and competent contractor through a series of high profile projects. One notable project they have been heavily involved in is the construction of Singapore’s new Downtown Line. Tasked with building fully-equipped site offices across multiple stages, they have completed each project within stipulated deadlines and to client specifications. From Orchard to Thomson, Jalan Besar and Ubi, Topzone had demonstrated that they are able to adjust to different environments while still operating efficiently and safely.
When asked if there were any past projects he felt especially proud of, Tan chose to highlight his company’s participation in the construction of Marina Bay Sands as one which he fondly remembers. He recalls the large scope of the project, sharing that at one point he had up to a thousand workers under payroll.
Topzone’s proven track record and experience makes them an ideal candidate for future development works in Singapore. Tan shares that he feels his company is well-positioned and is confident of securing upcoming jobs. Going into more detail, he cites the construction of Changi Airport Terminal 5, the North-South Highway and next stage of the Downtown Line as some of the projects he is looking to participate in. As such, in preparation for the upcoming projects, Tan is hoping to progressively ramp up his workforce by hiring 300 more workers.
In an extremely competitive industry, the price can be the deciding factor when it comes to clinching a project. On the flip side, lowering prices to be competitive can also make it difficult to make a profit. Tan revealed that his company makes their prices competitive by making internal adjustments to lower cost and squeeze margins without compromising on their build quality or reducing the safety element of the building.
Besides having an extensive account of well-documented completed projects, Topzone also has an exhaustive list of certificates, licenses, registrations and awards as a testament to the quality of their work. In this list are multiple ISO certifications, bizSAFE, Green and Gracious Builder award as well as recognition and approval from various industry associations, private organizations, main contractors and government bodies. Some of the awarding organizations include the Singapore Contractors Association, Singapore Welding Society and National Environment Agency.
When asked for his thoughts on how to succeed in the construction industry, Tan shared the rules that he lives by, “Firstly, study in detail to be competent in what you are doing. Secondly, aim to complete projects in a timely manner. Focusing on speed and safety is crucial but quality should also not be compromised. Lastly, maintain a good relationship with your clients.”
Under Tan’s leadership, Topzone has firmly established itself as one of the finest companies in their industry. Built on the four tenets laid out by their director, the company has achieved its success through honesty, hard work and delivering on their promises. With the foundations for continued prosperity securely in place, Topzone looks set to add more to their accolades in times to come.
Tan was candid when he recalled his setback in 2011 – suffering huge losses in his sub-contracting works as he had overlooked some details during contract signing. “That was the first time that I could not taste any flavour in the foods I ate and lost sleep for months,” he says. Nevertheless, he decided to honour the contract and paid off the sum by selling his private properties. Tan relates that he kept to his words so that his industry will get to know him to be a trusted and reliable person, which in turn will bring in more business to the company.
“It was an expensive lesson and I consider this setback as part of the learning process,” he adds. Indeed, the company’s sub-contracting jobs are secured through words of praise. In recent years, Topzone E&C has been involved in numerous prefabrication projects in the construction of MRT lines, hospital, school campus and shopping malls. The annual turnover was $29 million in 2016 and is expected to increase close to 40 million this year.
Manpower is valuable assets to the company. Recruited workers from Malaysia, India and China are trained and empowered with a skill to contribute to various positions in the industry.
He shares that he manages the few hundred workers with mutual respect and open communication. “When they are found to be at fault, I will reprimand with a reason, having their safety in mind. To us, they are not just foreign workers whom can be lectured as we please. Ultimately, without any workers, there will be no work done,” Tan explains.
In the construction industry where labour turnover rate is high, 40% of Topzone E&C’s workers have worked for over 10 years. Tan attributes four factors to his success – quoting competitively; providing prompt, reliable and quality services; performing well in jobs with alignment to safety protocols, and maintaining good relationships with clients.
Topzone E&C also plays an active role in contributing back to the community. In 2016, the company donated to Singapore St. John; Singapore Thomson Baptist Church and also in 2013, donated and supported in the upgrading works of Nee Soon East Community Club and presented a joint donation with the main contractor to Chinese International School, Chinese schools in Malaysia and building churches overseas.