Founded in 1978 by Mr Poi Tee together with two partners as a subsidiary of Kuala Lumpur Gas Company Sdn. Bhd. (current name Golden Point Corporation Sdn. Bhd.), the parent company didn’t begin with a focus solely on equipment as the name reads. Rather the group was involved in the distribution of LPG cylinders to commercial kitchens and it was these connections that the founders soon saw a potential in the business of supplying commercial kitchen equipment.
With a demand from their client to source or to provide recommendation for equipment, the founders decide to extend their business to carry commercial kitchen ranges. Starting with just stocking on Rinnai brand of rice cookers and some gas cooking ranges, the company soon started working on projects while providing installation and project management services on top of just supplying equipment to their clients. It wasn’t long before more and more brands were brought in and soon the company established itself as a leading commercial kitchen equipment supplier in Malaysia.
However in the late 80’s, the severe economic recession brought the company an awareness to how they were handling their business growth. While acknowledging that projects were abundant, the company took a firm stand to withdraw from all projects businesses to concentrate on building a role which would position them uniquely in supplying equipment to the dealers who are involved in project businesses.
Using their strong rapport and relationship with the manufacturers, F & B Equipment decided to change their business to one of a distributor role. Starting with only a handful of brands like Rinnai, Wolf, Fagor, Hatco and Waring under their belt – the company today holds more than 53 international brands from Europe, America and Asia and it is still growing.
Headed now by brothers K P and Sean Poi, F & B Equipment distributes in 2 countries – Malaysia and Singapore. “Representing a brand today requires much more than just importing stocks. Products today are more sophisticated with demonstration playing a very big role” says Sean during our interview in the headquarters in SetiaWalk Puchong. And F&B Equipment walks the talk with their investment to ensure that they provide their brands a place to showcase the features. With 3 showrooms of nearly 6,000 sq.ft in space in Malaysia and 2 in Singapore with nearly 3,000 sq .ft, the company is adding another 3,000 sq.ft in the Klang Valley before the 2nd quarter of this year.
Today, the showroom is a emporium of multitude brands and equipment from food preparation equipment like cutters, slicers, peelers to cooking ranges like toasters, combi ovens, blast chillers to refrigeration and specialised equipment for specific food types like gelato and breads and confectionaries. Also on their shelves are light and small items like Cambro containers, commercial faucets and fittings to small tumblers, trays and many more. It is in those showrooms that demonstrations and training are conducted as well. They have 2 full time chefs in the showroom and another 2 on a part time basis. “Setting up the showroom is not only just having the equipment there to feel and touch. We must also be able to educate and teach a potential buyer on what an equipment can do for them and their business today” explains Sean.
“While our showroom is open to the public, we have a strict ethic on how we operate. Because we distribute the products to our network of dealers, we normally refer our walk-ins to one of our dealers. Reason being – the equipment that you see are professional and many times, requires service and maintenance. We believe that a food and beverage business should be linked to a dealer who is normally a service provider who can also help them to maintain the equipment that they have. In return, we also encourage our dealers to use our showrooms for their clients and provide them the time of our chefs on hand to conduct demonstrations or answer questions” adds Sean.
But this does not mean that the company frees itself from providing after-sales service. “We do! It is very important that we do so but our service team operates on a different scale. Because our manufacturers are of reputable brands which services chain accounts, we as distributor have to provide a service assistance to our brands to service their chain customers when they open in Malaysia. Our service team is also helping the brands to train the dealers on how to service and install these equipment” adds Sean.
The company also has a very large warehouse operation. Every item is tagged digitally and a special software was developed to cope with the thousands of items as it is not just whole equipment but the parts that go into them. Their inventory list covers every product and real time report of stock status is easily traced from anywhere by their staff to ensure that they can provide the information back to their partners and also dealers.
Both brothers admit that a distributor role now gets tougher as technology advances. K.P, with a degree in Management Information System (MIS) and Sean in electrical engineering have seen changes in approaches by manufacturers since joining the company in 1996 and 2000 respectively.
From the manufacturer’s point of view, a distributor needs to have these – a clear and strong network of dealers, the team to support ground demands – from training to warehousing, spare parts and also service. A distributor has to be able to understand the product as good as the manufacturer themselves. “What we basically do is extend the manufacturer’s marketing and branding exercise into the market for them to reach more on ground. Today’s tools are not just the standard brochures and catalogues or presence in exhibition”. Sean adds that the company also provides and works with schools to film demonstration videos, in-house chefs to help customers apply local menus with the use of the latest technology supported with a range of digital marketing activities via websites and emails.
“We are being assessed on performance and also commitment to promote the brand.” On the other hand, the company also assesses the brands that approach them. The brothers agree that taking in a brand is not just because they were offered the brand. “We do our share of due diligence as well. We take a few years to also study the product and the company. We speak to those in the industry, understand the product’s application – if its suitable for our market and also the company’s response to after sales service and support – which is very important to us when we choose to take on a brand”.
And with the strong team of 59 in Malaysia and 11 in Singapore, F&B Equipment continues to provide more solutions to their network of dealers and clients. With extensions and upgrades in the showroom among the list of new improvements in 2015, the company would be working out more schedules for demonstrations. They would also be partnering with companies who are able to provide consultation services in terms of ingredients and recipes or basic food business setups as an added value service. “We aim to continue the company’s ideology that as technology advances – food can be safely produced in better quality but cheaper in costs yet consistent in taste and flavour with the right solution and the right equipment!”.
F&B EQUIPMENT (S) PTE LTD
65,Sims Avenue, #07-12,
Yi Xiu Factory Building, SIngapore 387418.
T: 65 6744 8856, 65 6744 8857
F: 65 6745 8698
F&B EQUIPMENT SDN BHD (039489-P)
Block J-5 (Ground Floor to Fifth Floor), Setiawalk,
Persiaran Wawasan, Pusat Bandar Puchong,
47160 Puchong, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.
T: 603 5882 0020
F: 603 5882 1511