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Up is down and down is up


Quality assured: Jack Lee holding CAO Industries’ best selling putty lime. The products is used to produce cement-sand-lime mortar to enhance workability and bonding of the mortar.

Quality assured: Jack Lee holding CAO Industries’ best selling putty lime. The products is used to produce cement-sand-lime mortar to enhance workability and bonding of the mortar.

Next generation learns the only constant in business is change

It is the concern of every business to keep it a going concern.

Next is, how do you prepare the next generation for the task ahead? There are no text book or manuals to do this.

CAO Industries Sdn Bhd executive chairman Lee Chee Kok, 55 believes being able to make leomanade when life gives you lemon is important.

His journey as an entrepreneur had seen him almost being bankrupt and eventually selling his company and acquiring another company.

He shares his journey with his three sons who are passionate about taking the company to the next level.

“They know about what the company went through, every ups and downs,” Lee says.

Perfect for bonding: Putty lime in a lab for quality testing. It is white, thick and creamy in texture.
Perfect for bonding: Putty lime in a lab for quality testing. It is white, thick and creamy in texture.

One of his son, Jack Lee Choon Keat, 32, who is the company’s general manager, says they are working on introducing a new wall plaster product.

Jack started out as a management trainee in a local bank before being posted overseas to expand on the branch networks in South East Asia region. After that he decided to apply his knowledge to the company his father built.

“We understand the struggle that the team put in and we know there is a lot ahead of us. Dad always emphasise that building a strong team is vital as end of the day, we only have 24 hours a day and one pair of hands to get things done,” Jack says.

Jack and his brothers work hard to understand how their products are made and how it would be able to serve their clients well. From there, they work on bringing in new products.

He sees a potential with quicklime based products. It helps to reduce cracks on walls and walls that have quicklime content in their building process tend to get stronger through time. Apart from that, they are used widely in other sectors such as agriculture and aquaculture, water treatment, steel manufacturing and others.

Looking into the potential synergy of a new product with the current company’s operation is essential.

All for one: Assistant GM and director Joewel Lee, Jack (middle) and business development assistant manager Johnson with the new walling products that they are distributing locally.
All for one: Assistant GM and director Joewel Lee, Jack (middle) and business development assistant manager Johnson with the new walling products that they are distributing locally.

In late Oct, they will be introducing a US based wall finishing product for both internal and external wall. Known as Venetian Plaster, this will be another growth area to the company, which last year achieved a revenue of RM25mil in 2016 with a staff of 70.

As the company works on positioning itself as walling materials specialist, Jack says the synergy is in place to market this product to their existing sales channels along with other wall related products that the company is already marketing currently. The company has a strong network with over 1,000 hardware shops in the country currently.

Jack adds they also have a technical team to assist clients with their wall related issues.

To further strenghten their presence, they have been marketing the product via interior designers. The team is constantly looking for new avenues to market the products.

“We are young and was fortunate that the founder of the US based product is giving us a chance to market their products here in Malaysia as their sole distributor,” Jack concludes, adding that they manage to convince the US based manufacturer with their sincerity and passion.

CAO , quicklime , construction , plastering

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