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Author: SGX   |   Latest post: Wed, 25 May 2022, 3:20 PM

 

Fu Yu: Staying Ahead of the Manufacturing Curve

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Fu Yu - MD

For banking and finance veteran David Seow, the African proverb “If you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run together” carries a particular resonance - it encapsulates his core management values of teamwork, communication, innovation and action.

“Each person’s contribution matters, but only if we work together,” said the Group Managing Director of SGX-listed precision plastic components manufacturer Fu Yu Corporation Ltd.

“Teamwork is key for an organisation to flourish. We need people who are able to complement each other’s diverse skillsets, and people who do their part properly to derive the right outcomes for everyone in the organisation.”

In turn, good communication forms the bedrock of strong teamwork. “We should be unafraid to give constructive feedback, to seek advice to learn and improve, and work together to achieve common goals,” he added.

This is where innovation plays a critical role. “In this fast-evolving world, you either adapt to stay ahead of the curve, or risk being left behind. Innovation does not have to be in technology - it can also be in changing the ways we do business and transforming mindsets.”

Last but not least, it’s all about action, Seow pointed out. “Anyone who has worked with me will know that I get things done, and I do things the right way. I also prefer working with people who deliver results rather than excuses. It’s about taking action yourself, and not resting on your laurels, or waiting for someone else to do it for you.”

A Bachelor of Science in Economics graduate from Singapore Management University, Seow spent nearly a decade of his career as a Senior Banker and Vice President of Structured Trade & Commodity Finance in Societe Generale, Singapore.  He was appointed Fu Yu’s Group Managing Director in August 2021.

“I learnt that regardless of my education and earlier work experience, I should avoid pigeonholing myself in a single industry to achieve success,” Seow recalled.

“I went to a business school where most of the students aspired to be “investment bankers”. While I happily took that route for 10 years, I wanted to do more than what my colleagues and clients expected of me, and never shied away from working with others on projects outside my regular job. In hindsight, these experiences made me realise I had a penchant for business management, troubleshooting issues and creating solutions.”

Although Seow may be seen as a “textbook finance expert”, he attributes much of his finance basics and business acumen to his experiences with start-ups, including co-founding and managing a restaurant in 2013, which has achieved and retained a Michelin star since 2017.

“Nothing beats the “real-life” exposure of preparing and executing business plans, setting up accounts, managing capital expenditure and working cash cycles, retaining and motivating employees, as well as fire-fighting to ensure business continuity,” he added.

In Growth Gear

These cumulative experiences have equipped Seow well for his current role. “Fu Yu is a stable and classic manufacturing company that has been in operation for more than four decades,” he noted.

“As Managing Director, I bring my go-getter, entrepreneurial, and proactive mindset to transform Fu Yu from a company that has been sailing steadily to one that is forward-thinking, innovative and in growth mode.”

Starting out in 1978 as a small tooling design, fabrication and fitting shop, Fu Yu Corporation has since grown into a market leader, providing vertically integrated services for the manufacture of precision plastic components and the fabrication of precision moulds and dies. The Group was listed on SGX Mainboard in June 1995.

Today, the Group has an established presence in the region with manufacturing facilities located in Singapore, Malaysia and China. It has built a broad and diversified customer base of blue-chip companies in the printing and imaging, networking and communications, consumer, medical, automotive as well as power tool sectors.

Its comprehensive capabilities range from precision tool design and fabrication and precision injection moulding to secondary processes, such as silk screen printing, ultrasonic welding, heat staking and spray painting, as well as sub-assembly. 

Looking ahead, Fu Yu targets to boost growth in two ways - strengthening the Group’s capabilities and beefing up its talent pool.

“We’ve launched several initiatives to expand our capabilities, such as technology and machine upgrades, a new innovation arm to work on modern products and designs, as well as improving efficiencies,” Seow said.

“These “hardware” upgrades will work hand in hand with our corresponding “software” upgrades, as we upskill our employees and hire fresh talent to drive innovation within the Group.”

With these initiatives, Seow expects a long growth runway for Fu Yu, where the organisation will not only be a manufacturer, but also a front-runner in advanced manufacturing and technology. 

“While we’ve always been known as a reliable pair of hands in manufacturing, these upgraded capabilities will enable us to work with our customers even more closely in areas of complex manufacturing and material science.”

In parallel with its strategy to build a diversified product portfolio for business resilience and stability, Fu Yu intends to optimise its business mix to keep pace with current market trends, Seow noted.

This will see the Group channelling greater resources towards boosting its business in market segments that display longer term stability and growth potential, such as medical, automotive, as well as eco-friendly and smart home consumer products.

The Group’s manufacturing operations will also shift into higher gear as the redevelopment of its new factory in Singapore enters the final stages of completion. The plant is scheduled to begin operations in the third quarter of 2022, barring unforeseen circumstances.

“With its adoption of Industry 4.0, this new “smart factory” will serve as a showcase of the Group’s advanced manufacturing capabilities,” he pointed out. 

“In addition to higher precision manufacturing capabilities and increased automation, our new factory will also feature seamless workflow across its tooling, moulding and assembly operations to achieve higher operational efficiencies and a reduced carbon footprint.”

The Group is also in the process of broadening value-added services to customers. Its new division - Corporate Development - will work with research institutes in Singapore and other partners in the region to explore research and development (R&D) programs, as well as identify commercially viable technologies to augment its manufacturing services.

A Proactive Approach

In this respect, COVID-19 has been a game-changer of sorts, Seow admitted. “COVID-19 was a timely reminder that we can never predict or pre-empt external conditions. However, we can control our own actions by proactively and continuously upgrading,” he added.

“I want Fu Yu to be proactive and stay ahead of the curve, rather than be reactive, as that will then be too late. This is a mindset change which I am incorporating throughout the Group.”

The pandemic also emphasised the need to have a greater control of one’s supply chain, or at least, have the ability to mitigate disruptions. 

“We’re taking things into our own hands to better manage our supply chain by centralising our procurement, which was previously done on a per site basis. To do this, we have already acquired and integrated a procurement company into the Group,” Seow noted.

“We believe this is a differentiating factor from our competitors as it allows us to better manage our raw material prices and shorten lead times for delivery, which ultimately will benefit our customers and potentially attract new ones.”

As for the Group’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals, Seow is focused on optimising the Group’s energy consumption, which will help shrink its carbon footprint. 

“Some of the initiatives we’re working on include exploring the installation of solar panels in our factories, and integrating IoT technologies to improve real-time monitoring of utilities usage and machinery performance,” he said.

“The challenge is to collect accurate data points that can be translated into useful information for our engineers to work on. With this, we can better measure and improve energy consumption by building an energy data model as a baseline which can be used to detect irregular utilities usage.”

Apart from work, this 37-year-old father of a four-month-old son is passionate about golf.

“I like how each game is different, even if you play at the same course. It doesn’t matter where your ball lands, because what matters most is the next shot, and how you proceed from the position you’re at, to the next position you want to get to. This applies in life as well.”

Seow is also inspired by “a better me tomorrow”. “I try to be present in everything I do, which means being deliberate about learning from everything I experience, and making sure I am maturing and wiser every day.”

And his advice to staff? “Be a do-er, don’t procrastinate and don’t make excuses,” he said. “Work hard, work smart, and always do the right thing.”

Fu Yu Corporation Ltd

Fu Yu provides vertically integrated services for the manufacture of precision plastic components and the fabrication of precision moulds and dies. Since its inception in 1978, the Group has grown to become one of the largest manufacturers of high precision plastic parts and moulds in Asia. Today, the Group has established a strong presence in the region with manufacturing facilities located in Singapore, Malaysia and China. Leveraging on over 40 years of operating history, the Group has built a broad and diversified customer base of blue-chip companies in the printing and imaging, networking and communications, consumer, medical, automotive and power tool sectors.

The company website is: www.fuyucorp.com

Click here for the company's StockFacts page.

For the year ended 31 December 2021 financial results, click here.
 

About kopi-C: the Company brew

Text: Jennifer Tan-Stanisic
Photo: Company file

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.

For previous editions of kopi-C: the Company brew, please click here.  

For more information, or if you would like your senior executives to be featured on SGX Market Dialogues, please send suggestions to jennifer.t@sgx.com.

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