Before we get into the story of Keisi, let’s track back a little. Back in 1935, Yopie Setiandi’s grandfather (Mr. Thian Woen Liong) threw open the doors of Tian Liong selling general goods for the household. It was a business that grew exponentially and till today, the original Tian Liong still stands but leadership has changed hands to Yopie’s father, Mr. Hakim Setiandi who revamped the building to the 6-storey unit it is today; carrying items meant for the hospitality industry. As they traveled extensively in the 80s to discover new products for their store, his father started building relationships with many brands from around the world. Soon, Tian Long became known as the Neiman Marcus of Jakarta - where one would shop for expensive presents for house warming and events. Chinaware and crystals were common gifts. Seeing the market’s potential, he then slowly introduced highly valued items suitable for the growing hotel market.
In terms of product range and SKUs, the company had it pretty firmly and Yopie’s father was not going to rest on his laurels. He established PT. Keisi, a project company. With a small production facility, the company star ted offering customized fabrication services to their customers on top of project management for operators who are star ting up a new outlet. Fast for ward 36 years, the Tian Liong Group has over 300 employees with a production area of 4000+ sqm. Tian Liong today has also 3 retail stores today - the first store in Jakarta Barat with the other 2 in Jakarta Selatan and Bali respectively. The brands in the stores have tripled and they now carry more than 50 brands from small wares to large kitchen equipment.
Sitting down with Yopie, we asked his opinion of market in Jakarta. “It’s growing, there are more concepts entering the market.”Although these are foreign Asian brands but local Indonesian brands are not trailing far behind in terms of growth. Jakarta is populated with malls and eateries are filling them up.
However in Indonesia, there are no strict regulations pertaining to the construction, design and build of commercial kitchens. On a positive note, malls are beginning to make the effort where regulations are listed but the industry players could do much more. Hence efforts are being made by him and like-minded professionals/his peers to star t an association for that purpose. There are not that many well-trained or established project management companies in Indonesia like Keisi and Yopie told us how his father started him out.
His first 6 years was spent learning about utensils. From the time Yopie was in University and whenever his dad visited him in the United States, it would typically coincide with some Hospitality Exhibition in a neighbouring state. His dad would get him to attend the exhibition and sowed the seed of interest in him. Upon graduation, he only had a week’s break and was then sent to work in the company by his father. He star ted from the bottom up; giving him the chance to dabble in every section of the business. And it shows when you see Yopie fiddling with the cutleries on the table as we are conducting the inter view. Laughing it off, he said he developed the habit to constantly look at what and how the market are purchasing their wares. “The feel and grip is important when a restaurant purchase their products for the customer and it reflects on their concept”.
They have expanded to do much more today. Not just Units retail sales for equipment and small wares, the company stands as a distributor/dealer for brands with stock in hand. The Project division with a solid and experienced team works with consultants on fitting out kitchens for projects, ranging from independent owners to large establishments. As Keisi notes the changes in the industry and technology, the company have also star ted a division that focuses on the design on commercial kitchens. The term ‘consultant’ is not something they adamantly identify with but they would say they help businesses with a simple layout and providing them advice and help on buying the right equipment. Recently, Keisi has also star ted concept development with RATIONAL. Together with the combi-steamer manufacturer, they aim to assist users to improvise and innovate their existing menu. This gives an added value and the chance for the customer to experience it all with an inhouse chef and demo units for testing.
“Working closely with the brands we represent allows us to better understand how we can offer more to our clients. It is not just stocking par ts or being an exclusive partner”.He continues with the insight that with brands doing more to listen to those in the market, it is important to map a direction and get the brands to support you to grow the market. Local presence for a brand is important and more local partners should understand this as a way to develop Indonesia’s F&B scene. Case in point would be the brand Libbey which has been with Tian Liong for more than 30 years. They are committed and have sent technical staff abroad for training to stay on top and for its customers as well for the sale of an equipment also covers training of application.
With traffic of at least 200 visitors everyday to their stores, the Keisi team is ensuring that they are in touch with their customers - being true to the needs and not just to make a quick sale. When a customer chooses to purchase against what an expert recommends, the latter ought to ensure the customer is aware of the consequences and continue to provide assistance accordingly. The need to be in constant communication with their customers also helps the team decide and build their in-house line of fabricated items like wire shelving and basic fabricated furniture. Moving for ward, it is currently developing its new store in line with the need to adapt to customers’ needs and to enhance its relationship with their partners. And evidently, continuing the founder’s idealogy of providing the solution for all things hospitality.