Gaylin Turns Crises into Opportunities.

Gaylin featured in Singapore’s Business Times.  The article gives a background of Gaylin International, the foundation of their business, their successes amongst economic downturns and looks at the future goals of this leading industrial company.

By. Zhang Jiao

When a downturn hits, canny businessmen take it as an opportunity.

Examples of such businessmen are the Teo Brothers of Gaylin International, a specialist in heavy-lift slings for the offshore oil and gas, shipping and onshore construction industries, who used the first recession they experienced to their advantage.

“It was the turning point for our company,” says managing director Desmond Teo, referring to the recession in the early 1980s when many companies here went bankrupt and property prices plunged.

Seeing this as an opportunity rather than a crisis, the Teo brothers bought a larger 80,000 sq ft warehouse in Joo Koon Way in 1983, which was later used as a collateral for more bank loans.  And that was when the company started growing rapidly.

Gaylin started off as a small family business, founded in 1974 by B Y Teo, Mr. Teo and their brothers.

They bought and sold miscellaneous items and products and made cargo nets, among other things, from 300 sq ft premises in Beach Road.  They spliced the steel ropes and cables used by the offshore oil and gas and marine industries by hand.

They went on for a bout seven years until the chance came for them to turn crisis into opportunity.

Today, Gaylin is “one of the leaders in the manufacture and provision of products and services in the offshore oil and gas, shipping and construction industry,” with turnover of $85 million last year, and it was a winner at this year’s Enterprise 50 awards.

The company has more than 125 employees and is based on two sites in Jurong that cover 320,000 sq ft.  It owns sophisticated machinery and equipment to produce and test cables, ropes and related specialized equipment essential to the offshore industry.  It is also the sole distributor of quality brands such as Sweden’s Gunnebo, Austria’s Teufelberger, the Netherlands’ GN and Technotex, America’s Samson and Slingmax, Germany’s Diepa, Korea’s KISWIRE and India’s Usha Martin.

“We believe in quality service and quality products,” says Mr. Teo.  To ensure high quality, besides distributing quality brands, Gaylin has assembled a strong engineering team, providing round-the-clock service.  “In business, timeliness is key,” says Mr. Teo.  “Most of our customers come to Singapore on their way to overseas projects.  If delivery of our products is delayed, they will incur much higher costs.

Prudent Growth

The company has also acquired substantial technical know-how through 35 years in the business.  And with so much experience under its belt, it has a solid reputation in the market.

But Mr. Teo is always learning, introducing new products to the market here.  To keep up with evolving technologies, he regularly attends international exhibitions of products such as fibre ropes, wire ropes and new fittings for the industry.  This has stood the company in good stead through the years, expanding the variety of items it has in stock and paying close attention to trends to meet growing demands by customers for safe and new products.

The recent economic downturn, like the crises of the early 1980s and 1997, had little effect on Gaylin’s business “because the company is more exposed to the oil and gas industry, where demand for products and services remains high,” says Mr. Teo.  “And we focus on what we do.  We will not venture into areas we do not have knowledge of.  We prefer consistent growth.

Through his prudent management, Gaylin has maintained yearly growth of 30-35 percent over the past five years.

It may seem difficult to run such a big enterprise as a family business, but mr. Teo believe the family was instrumental in its success.

This is evident from the division of work based on knowledge and talent.  For example, his two older brothers are in charge of production, while his younger brother is in charge of administration, IT and quality control.

The founder and eldest among them, Mr. BY Teo, stepped down in 1998 as managing director to pursue his interest in photography.  He has become an accomplished photographer and is not honorary adviser of the PhotoArt Association of Singapore.

“Unity is also very important,” says the current managing director, who proudly points to framed photos of his elder brother that decorate the walls of the company building.  “We always remember that he founded the company.”

The Teo brothers have also prepared to pass the family business to the next generation, five of whom have joined Gaylin and hold different positions in the company.

Looking ahead, Gaylin’s target is to hit $100 million in annual turnover within the next three to five years.  It also plans to bring in new capital.

It now exports to the Middle East, UK, the Netherlands, Korea, and China, and has set up an operation in Vietnam.

“We see Korea, China, India and the Middle East as future venues,” says Mr. Teo.

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