In great demand
Cheong Lee Leong Seng (CLLS) is a leading distributor of industrial, construction and marine equipment in Singapore. It was established in 1959 as a joint venture between service company Chong Lee and distributor Leong Seng, and became the country’s sole distributor of engines by Japanese manufacturer Yanmar. Today CLLS continues to be the country’s exclusive Yanmar distributor and has also attracted other manufacturers to its services as well; within the marine sector this includes Kashiwa, Taiko and Nakasima. It started becoming heavily involved with the shipping industry at the end of the 1970s when it recognised the growing importance of the industry within Singapore and hired technical staff dedicated to maritime sales and services.
“Our clients are the ship owners and shipyards in Singapore,” says general manager Arthur Lim. “They are the ones buying our products such as the Yanmar engine, which is popular because it is a simple diesel engine with very good aftersales service and tech support. The other big brand in our portfolio is Taiko marine pumps, a market-leading name in cargo pumps for tankers, which have proven popular with bunkering tanker owners. We also offer Taiko engine room pumps for large, ocean going vessels. The fire fighting and safety gas systems of Kashiwa, and the propulsion equipment of Nakashima, complete our marine equipment portfolio.”
What has made CLLS stand out in the market is that it offers not just the products but comprehensive aftersales technical support as well. “I have been with this company for 28 years,” Arthur says, “and the reason we have survived is because we first offer very reliable products, and second have a very good aftersales service. A customer cannot have a breakdown that lasts weeks and months because that means the vessel is out of work; it must be fixed immediately. In Asia, many onboard ‘engineers’ actually are mechanics that can’t fix engines. If something does wrong they call their offices to find a solution. That is where we help.”
In addition to a technical department that can provide remote help, CLLS also has its own workshop where it can carry out maintenance and repair work. This factory is an 864 square metre area with heavy duty equipment include a 20-tonne overhead crane; a five tonne overhead crane; two load banks for generator testing up to 1200 kilowatts; two mobile load banks for generator testing up to 700 kilowatts; four field service vehicles and one synchronising panel unit. As this equipment suggests, a wide range of services can be carried out including inspection and testing, commissioning, wiring, scheduled maintenance, repair, and engine and generator overhauls.
Ongoing commitment to delivering the best in technical support sees CLLS investing in recruitment of new staff. “With globalisation and the internet, a lot of information can be obtained from websites or directly from the manufacturer and this makes it more challenging for us a distributor to maintain business,” explains Arthur. “It is therefore important that our employees are technical competent. That is why we are investing heavily in not only recruiting new, technically competent staff but also in training as well to ensure they are the best in the market. This is how we stay competitive in terms of pricing and quality.”
This approach has won CLLS the business of many of Singapore’s top ship owners, many of which are building their vessels in China but choose to buy equipment through and maintain a long-term relationship with CLLS. Such strong partnerships have been essential for the company particularly during the past few years since the economic crisis, when the backlog of orders placed during the pre-crash peak have carried it through to today.
Turnover figures remained healthy during 2009 and 2010, with business performance flattening during 2011 and finally beginning to slow at the start of this year. Though the company remains in the black and profitable, the impact has been noticeable. CLLS is not deterred, however, and remains confident in itself and its partners. “It is important to continue taking orders, even at a low price and even if it means taking a hit to profits, because by selling now you can maintain business that will return to normal in four or five years,” says Arthur.
CLLS can foresee new opportunities in its partnerships with Taiko and Kashiwa due to incoming regulations regarding double hulls on bunkering tankers and water ballast treatment systems respectively. As ship owners become required to install new equipment, they will turn to their trusted partner to provide the units and support. “We believe the market will remain flat until 2014 but by then we will be once again be in a good position,” Arthur predicts. “In addition to new staff we have recently embarked in laser cladding enabling us to repair pistons and rudders, which in these difficult times when people are cutting costs means our clients can save money by allowing us to repair their products. CLLS is very fortunate to have the support of our customers and suppliers and we continue to provide them with the very best service possible.”
Leading equipment distributor
High quality technical support
Expanding products and services