Today, despite the rising wages in Sing Lun's factories in Asia that make it difficult to grow profit, the company continues to make a double-digit margin that's considered admirable by the standard of its industry peers.
Lee admits that business conditions are challenging but says it remains a top priority to pay good wages in order to maximize efficiency and output.
His next target? Gradually achieving 500 million Singapore dollars ($370 million) in annual revenue. "I think hit[ting] about S$400 million Singapore dollars ($296 million) in the next three years is a highly realistic target," says Lee.
A factor that has helped considerably has been international trade agreements, such as the existing United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. Lee says new trade deals, such as the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), will enable Sing Lun to ship with preferred duty access to the U.S. from its six factories in Vietnam, a signatory to the deal.
As for the decreasing probability of the TPP being ratified by the U.S. after growing anti-trade sentiment from the presidential candidate, Lee says he remains optimistic.
"I personally feel that the TPP will evolve, regardless of whether Trump or Clinton becomes president," Lee reckons. "Eventually, I think TPP will pass but maybe certain terms will have to [change] but that's really just my own two cents."
This has encouraged the company to expand its presence in the Vietnamese manufacturing scene, where it currently has 3,200 employees in its flagship plant in the Hakei province.
"That plant would double in size within the next two years [as] we are hoping to solidify that country as our product development and production hub for the rest of the region," says Lee.
Till then, Lee remains focused on keeping Sing Lun competitive. His advice for other family businesses?
"As a successor-to-be, never be in a hurry to fill the seat. Respect your family not just because they are family but also because they are shareholders."
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