For the majority of companies, the sole aim is to generate profit. This is not the case for Feruni Ceramiche Sdn Bhd.
The homegrown premium tile retailer is looking to ramp up its expansion efforts, with the help of partners, in the local and regional markets.
It has a presence in approximately 10 premium retailers in the Klang Valley, Johor, Melaka, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak, which means there is much room for growth.
In terms of expanding overseas, Brunei will be the first market to see the duplication and localisation of Feruni Ceramiche’s business model by the first quarter of 2020. Apart from that, it has been in talks with several parties in Vietnam, Indonesia and Indonesia to do the same.
Its managing director Datuk CC Ngei (pic) shares that the company is actively looking for like-minded people to not only sell its products and turn a profit, but to also emulate its philosophy on making a positive impact on its talents and in the surrounding communities.
“It always goes back to our purpose to deliver happiness. This drives us to be passionate in what we do.
“We’re looking to implement the business model at a bigger scale and localise it in other states and countries, transferring all our knowledge, our whole belief system and concept to our partners.
“It’s the way we want to diversify - where the model comes along with our values - and at the same time, we establish a different channel for distribution and multiply sales. It’s a win-win situation, ” he said.
Although such plans are in the pipeline, aggressive growth is not part of the plan in the near future, due to the challenging state of the overall global economy.
The key for now, Ngei said, is to establish a strong foundation to ensure Feruni Ceramiche can jump onto opportunities at the ideal time to fast forward its growth.
He added, that “we see our real expansion starting three years from now and we’re planting new seeds by looking for business partners that believe in our business model and what we do.
“In Malaysia, the economy is quite stable so we’ll likely see a little growth, but for now it’s about consolidating the things we’re doing right and divesting the wrong ones. If we get the fundamentals right, then business will naturally come.”
Feruni Ceramiche will also continue raising awareness among its peers, by setting the example that a business can be profitable while uplifting the local community at the same time.
The tile company does this through its four pillars under the acronym CCTV, which stands for cultivate talents, community, transformation and values-based organisation.
First and foremost, it established a platform to cultivate talents, who will in turn contribute to the company’s growth and drive a path forward for sustainability.
“90% of our ideas at the showroom are done by the team, as a place they can showcase their ideas so customers can see the possibilities. Put into the right roles, people will really perform if they’re willing to put in hard work and are passionate about it, ” he said.
Through the profit it makes, around 10% is allocated to build up the community, which is Feruni Ceramiche’s second pillar.
He noted, that “with this 10%, there was a limit to what we could do in the past, but we wanted to do more and realised to really make a big impact, we need to get the corporate leaders to buy in.” It was an idea in 2015 to open up its office via the Discover Feruni Tour to peers in the corporate world, that opened Ngei’s eyes to the possibilities.
While the target was to attract 2,000 people to visit the 40,000 sq ft Feruni Ceramiche headquarters in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, the success of the initiative went far beyond initial expectations. In 18 months, it saw the participation of close to 7,000 people.
“We took the opportunity to share with these corporate leaders how we do what we do. A lot of them started to think that they should be more involved in cultivating talents and building up the community as well. It’s where we can really make a difference, ” he explained.
Ngei unabashedly admitted that the tile industry is “something very boring” that many people see as a sunset industry. This was where Feruni Ceramiche’s third pillar, transformation, comes into play.
While the business-to-business (B2B) segment remains the major contributor to its revenue at 60% to 65%, the company is seeing double digit growth in the business-to-consumer segment, which is in line with Feruni Ceramiche’s goals.
The company’s designers develop exclusive styles and patterns under its own brand, which it then markets to consumers, who are more open to new and unique designs.
This is evident in its signature product, made available in a range of different shapes for personalisation, instead of the common square and rectangle tiles.
He said “we want to make the industry more interesting when it comes to designs, to offer consumers unlimited options in mixing and matching, so we put a lot of effort into that - the products, the service and our showroom - and keep evolving from there.”
The aim, apart from moving away from the price war of B2B business, is also to provide consumers with more options and foster a sense of pride among its employees. In turn, this will slowly change perceptions of the industry to attract the younger generation to join.
The last pillar is to ensure that Feruni Ceramiche is an organisation built around its values in the interests of sustainability.
He shared that “in the corporate world, everyone focuses on the profit and neglects their values, which becomes something optional that they can compromise on.
“However, that’s the fundamental for our business to remain sustainable. We faced a lot of challenges, but it’s created differentiation for us and I’m happy that we’ve managed to cultivate the right values in the team.”
When it comes to The Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA), Ngei said that after Feruni Ceramiche’s multiple wins over the years, the company gained more recognition and visibility in the public eye.
While awards give companies a boost, he stressed that it is important for small and medium enterprises to ‘get the business right’ at the end of the day, instead of resting on their laurels. In SOBA 2014, the premium tile retailer won Platinum Awards for three categories including Best in Marketing, Best Brand and Best Employer, as well as the Gold Award for Best in CST - becoming the Grand Winner for the Malaysian Business of the Year. Ngei went on to win the Special Mention Award for Male Entrepreneur of the Year in SOBA 2015.
“Besides giving us confidence from the acknowledgment, it also made a real impact to us in terms of our reach to consumers and getting our brand out there in public, ” he said, adding that he was very thankful for the support of PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd group chief executive and managing director Datuk Michael Tio for encouraging and supporting him to apply for the prestigious awards.
In celebration of a decade championing business excellence, Star Media Group Bhd is bringing together the alumni of The Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) to form the SOBA Fraternity.
To mark both milestones, a SOBA 10th Anniversary Celebration will be organised on Nov 5 at New World Petaling Jaya Hotel.
The event is aimed at recognising the success of past recipients, as well as providing a unique platform for its alumni to foster fellowship and forge new bonds.
Among the highlights of the night include an inspiring speech by the event’s guest of honour and Sunway Group founder and chairman Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah AO, as well as a curated fashion show by the Malaysian Bumiputra Designers Association (MBDA), featuring Bon Zainal, Rasta Rashid, RamondZack and Tawaf Timepieces.
Organised by Star Media Group with Digi, PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd and RHB Bank Bhd as main sponsors, Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd as co-sponsor and Malaysia External Trade Development Corp as official trade promotion partner, SOBA 2019 is endorsed by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, supportedby Bursa Malaysia and audited by BDO, with dimsum as official media partner.
Those interested in more information for the SOBA 10th Anniversary Celebration can contact The Star Events Business Unit at 03-7967 1388 ext 1857 (Pei Wen)/ 1475 (Emilia)/1657 (Victor).
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