SINGAPORE (July 13): When JEP Holdings officially opened its $35 million smart factory last November, it was hailed by Minister of Trade and Industry (Trade), S Iswaran, as an example of a precision engineering firm that had made the successful leap into the “digitalisation” of manufacturing. The prospects looked good for the facility, which is located in the Seletar Aerospace Park, where complementary businesses in the fast-growing aerospace and aviation services are brought together to support one another’s growth.

Yet, just over two months later, the company welcomed a new controlling shareholder and executive chairman, Andy Luong, who is unimpressed with the 200,000 sf facility, regardless of how modern and spacious it is. To him, it is a white elephant in his plan to improve JEP’s bottom line.

Luong, a former refugee from Vietnam, is blunt about it: Singapore is not a cost-competitive location for a business such as JEP. He reckons that it is more cost effective to relocate to Penang instead. “[In] the last six months, [we have been trying] to understand the root cause of why the company isn’t making money. We are basically [attempting] to rightsize the management and operations,” he tells The Edge Singapore in a recent interview.

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