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Going the Distance with a Family-Run Business

30-year-old family business Q Industries has successfully embraced a hybrid management model in its bid to double sales turnover by 2017.


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Published by Enterprise Singapore
on 11 Oct 2019

Going the Distance with a Family-Run Business

Family-run businesses make up just over 60 percent of all firms on the Singapore Exchange (SGX). Q Industries, a proudly Singaporean hospitality solutions provider, is one such company, engaging a hybrid management model comprising family members and external professionals.

The company’s core management team includes husband-and-wife founders Tony and Jacqueline Quek, who have run the company for 30 years, their daughter Huilin Quek as well as long-time business partner and executive director Christophe Megel. Mr Quek, who calls himself “the numbers man”, is in charge of the company’s financials; his wife looks after product lines and is fondly known as the “risk-taker”; while Ms Quek and Mr Megel are in charge of corporate matters.

Racing Ahead with a Hybrid Management Model

Elaborating on the company’s management model, Mr Quek says that Mr Megel was the ideal choice as a partner to help grow the business, not only because of his strong experience in the restaurant and culinary industries but also because of his successful track record in management. Mr Megel, formerly the executive chef at The Ritz-Carlton hotel, was also the CEO of prominent culinary school in Singapore.

“The challenges of managing a family-run business can be phenomenal. The business can easily break apart if emotions and decisions are not handled well. I was aware of this from the very beginning and wanted to make sure that we have a balanced approach to management by bringing in a qualified and suitable external party,” explains Mr Quek.

Mr Quek has also been planning for Huilin to join and continue the business for 10 years, sending her to complete a business degree in Switzerland to prepare her for the challenges of running a company. He says, “When it comes to family-run businesses, people tend to become entrenched in what they do. Succession has to be carefully planned.”

Ms Quek adds that she did not pursue her studies in order to do exactly what her mother has been doing. “From the very beginning, my parents told me that I am not working for Mum and Dad; and that my whole purpose of coming into the family business is strategic — to take it to the next level,” she says. Q Industries aims to double sales turnover by 2017 by expanding into the Asian, European and African markets while continuing to grow in Singapore.

Creating Greater Value in their Brand

Spurring the company forward is the common goal for all four members of the core management team. Ms Quek explains that although Q Industries is already a well-known company in their industry, “we wanted to make our brand even more valuable.” This was especially crucial because the hotel industry has been metamorphosing with more diverse brands and offerings at different price points surfacing over the years.

“To grow further, we had to go beyond representing hospitality brands and create our own brand as pathfinders and pacesetters for our customers and the industry,” adds Ms Quek. To achieve this, Q Industries’ management team took time to take stock of the whole company and understand both the whole value chain and exactly what they wanted.

Following Mr Megel’s prompting, they approached SPRING Singapore (now Enterprise Singapore1) in March 2015 for a Capability Development Grant to embark on a business strategy innovation project aimed at ensuring the company’s strategy and brand image were aligned. Through the project, the management team realised that Q Industries needed a more strategic and structured approach instead of operating based on pure instincts which they were used to as an SME (small and medium enterprise). This required not just a change in their brand image, but also the business’ management culture and processes.

Growing the Business Step by Step

Mr Megel shares that working with specialised business strategy consultants from SPRING (now Enterprise Singapore1) has been instrumental in Q Industries’ ambitions to go global “Achieving success is not just about having the best ingredients – the deployment and execution of strategies are equally if not more critical. Having a strong business foundation and structure is key,” he emphasises.

Having put in place key standard operating procedures and policies, Q Industries is now looking at improving its digital capabilities. With support from SPRING (now Enterprise Singapore1), the company is also working on a strategic financial management project to ensure that its financial policies and frameworks can support their business transformation and expansion plans.

According to Ms Quek, they realised that they did not have the financial tools necessary to move forward at the rate they were expanding. She maintains that finance is not just about profit and loss, it is about creating value for all involved in the company, including shareholders.

Mr Quek adds: “Setting up strong financial tools, system and discipline is vital for long term success. After all, if a business runs out of budget, ideas die and the whole business will not be able to take off. ”

1SPRING Singapore merged with IE Singapore to form Enterprise Singapore on 1 April 2018.

 

Last Modified Date: 11 Oct 2019