Mr. Alvin Maniam: Leading A Prosperous Business In
Marine Industry Through Daily Inspirations
They say that when a door closes, a new window opens. It may sound like a cliché but this statement holds true for Mr. Alvin Maniam whose unfortunate accident led him to his destiny of achieving a prodigious success in the marine business. His company Suraj Marine is now among the leading names in ship building and repairs in Singapore.
It all started in 1995, when Mr. Maniam ventured to start his own business in the industry where he worked for years. However, it was not out of sheer delight or out of a big plan he ended up with this unexpected journey.
The Unlikely Beginning To Success
“I was only 18 years old when I first came to Singapore from Malaysia. I worked from the ground up in the marine industry. Meaning, I experienced all the dirty work and difficult tasks that the business offers. I did everything; from cleaning tanks to climbing as high as 80 feet to repair a ship. I worked for many companies over time and I gained skills and experience. These experiences proved to be worth it because they were the necessary tools that I used to start my own company,” Mr. Maniam says.
In the course of his career in the marine repair business, Mr. Maniam met an unfortunate accident that led him to stay long in the hospital. “My recovery period was extensive and when I came back to work my boss did not believe that I was suitable to climb ships again, given my fragile health situation. So, I had no choice but to leave the company, as the doctors also advised me to stop working in the shipbuilding job. I was devastated because, marine business was the only thing I knew. It was my life, my career and my passion,” Mr. Maniam tells.
However, instead of sulking around because of his unfortunate loss of job, Mr. Maniam gathered all his resources and set sail to start up his very own business in the marine industry.
While it was not too hard to initially put up the business, given his vast experience and skills, Mr. Maniam said that his business also saw some pitfalls along the way. “Well, any business will experience sailing through rough seas and every businessman will face various hurdles along the way. For Suraj Marine, our main problem was always manpower,” he discloses.
Mr. Maniam says that at a time, his employees would come and go. “Some of my previous employees did not stay too long in my company because these individuals were not very patient and dedicated with the difficult tasks at hand. You see shipbuilding and repairs require stamina and strength, coupled with dedication and commitment. There are times that we had to sacrifice time with family to repair a ship for days. And some employees just could not walk the extra mile to give their all in this kind of work. Some choose to leave. But the good thing at present is many of my employees now chose to stay. Thus, all my employees have been with me for a long period of time already. They are all
dedicated and hard working. This I am deeply grateful of.”
Asked what makes these workers stay with Suraj Marine, Mr. Maniam proudly says that he provides various incentives for all his employees and he also trains them to be equipped with the right skills and tools in the business.
It was also very difficult for Maniam to hire locals for employment; he depended on foreign workers to maintain the business. “Today, I have 15 employees who help me in my business and I have a lot of foreign workers working with me. I do not have problems with them so far.”
A New Vision Everyday: Steering The Business To Success
Asked what his vision is for Suraj Marine in the next 10 years, Mr. Maniam humbly answers that there is no big vision for his company. He only believes in every day inspirations to get to the future. “To look into the future is to focus on today. I believe that every day takes you a step closer to the future. For me, it’s not about big visions; it’s about the small significant steps that matter in creating a huge wave in the business.”
For almost two decades, a typical day for at work for Mr. Maniam has been consistently spent this way: “I wake up every day with a motivation and a sense of inspiration. There is no room for laziness and sluggishness in the marine business. One cannot be a lazy dog in Singapore. We all know that this country is globally competitive and the requirement for every employee is high given the country’s economic standards,” he states.
Mr. Maniam also lives by three major principles in life and these made him a successful businessman over the years. “First I believe in completing one’s work with utmost dedication and commitment. At the end of the day, you must have a sense of fulfillment in what you did at work. Second, I believe in building good relationships with clients. My business thrives because of the loyalty and trust of my patrons. I believe that it is important to maintain a sound relationship with the people you negotiate with. They keep my business alive and I am thankful for their trust and confidence. Third, I only offer quality work and services. Some of my new clients complain how expensive my services are, but I always tell them that with Suraj Marine, you get value for your money. I offer great services and
this is one of the reasons why clients stick to my company. At the end of a deal, my clients will experience the impression of quality service. I always make that a point.”
Lesson For New Entrepreneurs: Anchor Your Business On Dedication And Sacrifice
“Every young entrepreneur should realize that without hard work and patience, one cannot move on to the next level. It’s a requirement in every business startup. If you cannot anchor your company on dedication and commitment, then all else will drown even before you start sailing,” Mr. Maniams advises.
Mr. Maniam also says that sacrifice is also something that every businessman learns along the way. “I sacrificed time for my family because of the nature of my work. I have no holidays; I spend my holidays working and seeing that things are running smoothly in my company. It’s good that my family understand my situation. Every entrepreneur will give up his precious time for work. If you know how to work things out, time can be spent wisely at work and with family.”
Asked how he defines success, Mr. Maniam says “it does not matter if you become rich or not in the business. It is how much hard work you put every day that truly defines success.” Such is the humble statement of a successful businessman who rose from unfortunate accident years ago to build a successful business today.
Sunraj Marine Pte LtdBlock 22 Woodlands Link #04-34 Singapore 738734 Office 67545434