42 Toh Guan Road east #01-77
Building On Solid Grounds
Interview with Mr Clarence Soh
K.W. Construction and Engineering Pte Ltd
At 24, Clarence Soh is already sharing the helm of their family business with his sister, Carin. K.W. Construction and Engineering Pte Ltd, a construction company focusing on plumbing and sanitary works installation for HDBs, is a second-generation family business. The siblings have been handed down this business—and family legacy—by their father, Mr. Soh, who was a seasoned plumber of 30 years.
Not any aspect of construction is Clarence’s expertise, having finished a Business degree from the University. But as he later proves, there is nothing that cannot be learnt when a person puts his heart and mind into it. Indeed, character and dedication build a solid ground for any business to flourish.
Challenges: Building One’s Own Foundation
Clarence started as a young entrepreneur at 20, and the first lesson he learned was that building one’s own foundation in the construction business was not easy.
For a long time, K.W. Construction and Engineering Pte Ltd was only a subcontractor – and was only receiving whatever work the contractor allotted to them. Not only was their revenue opportunity streamlined in this arrangement, their business was also standing on feeble grounds – when the contractor collapsed, their business collapsed, too. Clarence knew this was not a solid foundation to start with.
Over the years, clients started to take notice and contacted them directly for works that needed to be done. The siblings made sure they delivered a high standard of works. This took a lot of time, patience, and listening to pioneer workers while at the same time infusing new knowledge in construction to get the work done in the highest level of quality. The sacrifices paid off when eventually, they were already winning contracts of their own, independent of any contractor.
The next challenge, though, was securing the licenses with the Building Construction Authority (BCA). Before any contract is awarded, the contractor must secure licenses to contract for certain projects, and these licenses can only be secured if the contractor met several rigorous criteria, which included capitalisation amount, experience contracting similar projects, among others. Clarence, along with his siblings, did not easily give up. One by one, they complied with the licensing requirements and were able to secure one project after another.
It has been 11 years since her sister received the company upon their hands. Today, K.W. Construction and Engineering Pte Ltd has over 80 employees and is among the most reliable construction and engineering firms especially for HDB works.
Looking back, Clarence can give this advice to young entrepreneurs who are looking to start a business in construction: “Widen your network. The people you know are your golden ticket to getting more project contracts. Go out and build your network.”