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Lincotrade: Building on diversified, multi-pronged growth

Jennifer Tan-Stanisic
Jennifer Tan-Stanisic11/9/2022 04:24 PM GMT+08  • 6 min read
Lincotrade: Building on diversified, multi-pronged growth
Tan: Trust and integrity bind the relationships between our employees, customers, and stakeholders such as our suppliers and bankers / Photo: Lincotrade
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Interior fitting-out specialist Jimmy Tan is well-versed in grit and diligence — core values he has honed through the process of co-founding his company, growing its reach, and eventually listing it on SGX Catalist in August this year.

“My co-founder Jackie Soh and I came from humble beginnings, and had really nothing at all, except a basic General Certificate of Education certificate,” recalls the managing director of interior fitting-out works company Lincotrade & Associates Holdings.

Despite limited resources, Soh and Tan were able to build their business up from scratch over the past three decades — through sheer hard work, as well as a combination of blood, sweat and quite a few tears.

“In order not to disrupt our customers’ business and manufacturing activities during the day, we could only carry out our operations in the evenings. For several years, our families had to adjust to our night schedules as the company was our top priority, and we were determined to build a good reputation in the market,” Tan notes.

That meant excruciatingly long hours and precious little sleep. “For the first few years after we founded the company, we only slept three to four hours a day, because other than actual work assignments, we also needed to carry out marketing and business development operations,” he recounts.

“Sometimes, we were so tired that we would fall asleep behind the wheel! Fortunately, we didn’t get into any accidents back then,” he adds.

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Not surprisingly, tenacity and commitment are qualities ingrained in Tan’s character. Other core values such as trust and integrity have also become second nature to him.

“Trust and integrity bind the relationships between our employees, customers, and stakeholders such as our suppliers and bankers,” he points out. “As Warren Buffett once said, ‘Trust is like the air we breathe — when it’s present, nobody really notices; when it’s absent, everyone notices.’”

“We earn our customers’ trust to deliver our work on time and on budget. We also need to earn the trust of our workforce; we treat them right, so they put their heart and soul into doing the best work for the company and for the customer. For our other stakeholders, it means building a mutually beneficial relationship for the long term,” Tan says.

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Integrity is another key value. “It’s inevitable that mistakes will occur in our business activities, but we make sure we take responsibility and remain accountable,” he says. And when mistakes are made, it is important to reflect, persevere and improve. “I recognise the opportunities of becoming better through hardships and challenges,” he adds.

Distinct competitive advantage

Established in 1991 and based in Singapore, Lincotrade is engaged in the provision of interior fitting-out services, addition and alteration works, and other building construction services for residential and commercial premises, as well as showflats and sales galleries. Since 2006, Lincotrade has had its own in-house facility to process, assemble and manufacture carpentry products to support and complement its interior fitting-out services.

The group was listed on SGX Catalist in August after the completion of the reverse takeover by Fabchem China.

Looking ahead, to gain scale and expand its operations further, Lincotrade plans to focus on larger-scale projects, such as hotels and commercial buildings. “We’re also exploring M&A opportunities to boost diversification and revenue streams,” Tan notes. “Such options include acquisitions, investments, strategic alliances and/or joint ventures in complementary businesses in Singapore and overseas markets.”

Lincotrade has an order book amounting to $76.7 million as at June 17, which will be fulfilled over the next two years. Additionally, as one of the 39 contractors — out of a total of 1,868 — that are registered with an L6 grading under the CR06 Workhead as at June 17, the group believes it has a distinct advantage over its competitors.

“Unlike others who are focused in one particular segment, we have a synergistic business model in the interior fitting-out industry to target both short-term projects, such as showflats, and long-term ones like residential or commercial projects,” Tan says.

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“Not many are aware we’re in the business of building showflats and galleries for the high-end property market, and this is where we’ve developed a strong reputation,” he adds. “To attract high-end clientele, these showflats and galleries can cost $10 million or more per project.”

Renewable and sustainable focus

Apart from the day-to-day operations, Tan is also focused on the group’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities.

“In recent years, we’ve used environmentally friendly materials, such as laminate and veneer made from reconstructed or recycled materials, in our projects, including our doors, to reduce the lumbering of forests.”

In February 2016, the group was awarded the Singapore Green Label by the Singapore Environmental Council for its wooden panel doors made from renewable and sustainable materials. Since then, its Singapore Green Label award has been consistently renewed, and is currently valid from Feb 18, 2022, to Feb 17, 2024.

Up till today, Tan remains inspired by technically challenging projects that come his way. “My business is my passion. I started this trade after my National Service and without any formal higher educational training, so I am thrilled that clients continuously acknowledge our good work,” he says.

He is also gratified to see how his employees have grown together with the company, and done well for themselves and their families.

When this 58-year-old father is out of the office, he enjoys playing sports, in particular badminton, as it is about knowing when to use the right technique, rhythm and strategies to bring the best out of everyone on the team.

“Sports are great for fun and exercise, but they’re also good for fine-tuning skills. There are many parallels that can be drawn between competitive sports and business,” Tan points out.

“Communication is key in any sport. No team sport is won by an individual — success relies on a strong team chemistry. A large part of that team chemistry revolves around communication. This can be compared to the business world as well,” he says.

When it comes to advice for his staff and children, who are in their mid-20s, Tan emphasises agility amid opportunities. “Never say ‘no’ to any opportunity, and stay agile. Sometimes people get stuck in one place because they’re scared of taking risks and moving out of their comfort zones,” he says. “We can be much better at doing things that people have been doing for years — but you’ll never discover that unless you try.”

Lincotrade & Associates Holdings

Established in 1991 and based in Singapore, Lincotrade is engaged in the provision of interior fitting-out services, additions and alteration works and other building construction services, primarily for commercial premises, such as offices, hotels, shopping malls and food and beverage establishments; residential premises such as condominium developments; as well as showflats and sales galleries. The company website is: www.lincotrade.com.sg

About kopi-C: The Company Brew

kopi-C is a regular column on the SGX Research website that features C-level executives of leading companies listed on Singapore Exchange. These interviews are profiles of senior management aimed at helping investors better understand the individuals who run these corporations

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