The buzz in today’s food scene is no doubt due to society’s growing discernment towards tasting and eating experiences, but what is hardly recognised in the making of a facility to cook up a feast is the equipment aspect. For every era in the cooking endeavour, there are tools of the trade that would be considered sophisticated and machines for home do not find its place in commercial facilities. Yet, it is thanks to the industry of kitchen equipment for home that has brought in commercial level equipment into the shores of Singapore. Coming from the background of selling domestic cooking tools for Scotts and English in the 1970s, Simplex’s three founders, Mr CS Lim, Mr TJ Han and Mr Anthony Lau had first-hand insight to the needs in a kitchen; although of course home and commercial are different playing fields; yet their experience laid the solid ground for a bigger challenge.
The founders had noticed that Singapore was a rapidly developing country in the 70s with facilities that were being built such as army camps, hospitals and the Singapore Airport Terminal Services (SATS) but they were faced with limited options when it comes to equipment offered by backyard businesses, which understandably, operating in a young nation, required time to arrive at the same level as its foreign counterparts. Mr CS Lim then tried approaching principals abroad and sought for dealership into the country and one of the first companies to respond were Vulcan and Taylor; and as Simplex inched its way as a trusted distributor, other companies soon appointed them. What began as a trust from 3 brands, there are now 19 brands under the Simplex umbrella, carrying equipment ranging from hot, cold, concessionaires, large scale food production, refrigeration and many more. To ensure that customers are not let down too long by the technicalities of spare part sourcing, Simplex has an 821.34 sqm (621.34-equipment and 200 – parts) warehouse stocked with parts from all brands that it represents.
From Singapore to nearby Asia countries like Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Hong Kong and China, Simplex’s has a total of 350 people working in its various Simplex-owned offices. In each country that Simplex is present in; the service company is started up first compared to the usual approach of starting with a sales function. Benjamin Lim, the current Group General Manager explains that the recognition of being a reliable support partner for its chain accounts is more important than selling as a company can be selling the best equipment in the world but without service and support, it is as good as burying your brand; thus the priority is to find a good service manager before appointing a sales manager. The difference between two distributors could be a single factor of value-added services and Simplex takes on the responsibility of providing training for users of the equipment that it sells.
Although there were comments that this exercise would affect the company’s performance at the service side, Simplex sees it from the customers’ point of view. Says Benjamin; “with less problems, customers are more assured and only follow contracted scheduled maintenance, which helps us better control the cost of deploying a service team to be on call or for last minute emergencies! In the long run, your customers are happier and more satisfied.”
PROGRESSING WITH ADVANCED METHODOLOGIES
Over the years, Simplex has redefined its solutions in the service aspect. Moving from a traditional service method, followed by its after-sales service arm, as an esteemed importer to the principals, in partnership and now sets itself to grow with the brand it represents. It is moving the conventional service roles towards a 24/7 culture
by implementing a call center and increasing the use of technology to improve systems in order to better automate the processes in the company. The size of the company, taking into account its offices around the region and factory space, requires a lot of documentation which has to be kept updated. This is where technology becomes indispensable but the industry is still very much ‘pen and paper’ but Benjamin’s background in IT has helped him to develop solutions such as the “COLONY- Staffing Simplified” software, specifically for the food and beverage industry which aims to assist the Human Resource department manage its workforce and scheduling on a better platform. And while call centers have been around for quite a period of time, not many in this industry have adopted it and Simplex’s recently launched its 1800 SIMPLEX line providing customers with one single and sure number to call for service instead of dealing with changes in phone number or service personnel.
The environment which sales operate in today is starkly different from the time where it was only buy-and-sell. Customers are asking more questions, comparing products due to the accessibility to information and the wide range of choices have made commercial kitchen equipment a competitive field. Simplex takes it all in stride, acknowledging how much the industry has progress from the time where it was one of the earliest outfits to introduce business owners to what was available outside the country. To better engage with their customers, a dedicated cooking theatre is built in Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia while the Singapore facility is also boosted a bar that showcases cold and hot equipment.
INDIVIDUAL STRENGTHS COMBINED FOR SUCCESS
Working with a business model depicted as a 3-legged stool relationship with Simplex in the middle; and the Principals and Customers are important supporting elements to keep the company stable and rooted in its place. It has moved from the traditional service of basic equipment distribution to offering after-sales services that enabled its customers to enjoy greater convenience; followed up with partnership and eventually growing with the brand it represents. Because of its successful collaborations with external brands, Simplex was able to expand and started Pinnacle Kitchen Solutions that focuses solely to work on projects for customers seeking for complete solutions for their commercial food production facility. Through two separate companies, the management has a better sense of clarity in terms of operations, management and responsibilities; at the same time keep all the work that needs to be done under one roof.
• Kitchen design layout space optimisation
• Recommendation and sale of suitable equipment
• Full installation
• 24/7 After Service Sales
• Preventive maintenance program
Simplex Pte Ltd
33, Gul Drive
T: +65 6252 4228
F: +65 6253 8814
Simplex Sdn Bhd
No 1, Jalan Bukit Permai Utama Dua,
Taman Industrial Bukit Permai,
56100 Kuala Lumpur
T: +60 3 4292 2326
F: +60 3 4292 6408
Simplex (Shanghai) Co. Ltd
Block 2 Jieyun Building 15E,
Tian Shan Road, Lane 600,
Chang Ning District,
Postal Code: 200336
T: +86 21 6090 0322
F: +86 21 6125 3760
Taiya Simplex Ltd
Unit C, 9/F, Meyer Industrial Building
2 Chong Yip Street, Kwun Tong
T: +852 2357 9389
F: +852 2357 9567
Simplex Pte Ltd (Vietnam)
248 Vo Van Tan Street, Ward 5,
District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
T: +84 3832 9908
T: +84 3832 9909
F: +84 3832 9907