Pat on the back

  • Smebiz
  • Tuesday, 06 Feb 2018

IN the face of a challenging economic landscape, small businesses have indeed demonstrated a resilient quality about them. Many have adapted and persevered to overcome barriers and chart a new growth path in a changing market.

The winners at The Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) 2017 have certainly shown such qualities, making them deserving of the recognition accorded to them by the industry.

The two big winners at SOBA 2017 were Proguard Technologies (M) Sdn Bhd and Forefront Studio Sdn Bhd

First-time participant Proguard turned out to be the biggest winner of the night, sweeping up five awards, including the coveted title – Malaysian Business of the Year (Above RM25mil category).

Proguard is one of the leading personal protective equipment (PPE) companies in Malaysia and South-East Asia. The company has been in the industry for 30 years, starting out as a trading firm to become the sizeable manufacturer it is today.

“We are very passionate about what we do; our business was built from the ground up,” said chief operation officer Datuk Lee Ngai Mun after the company took the top prize.

Proguard also took home prizes in the Best Employer (Platinum), Best in CSR (Silver) and Best Brand (Gold) categories. Meanwhile, its chief executive officer and chief financial officer, Datin Cindy Choh, won Female Entrepreneur of the Year (Above RM25mil category).

“While we made profits over the years, we also suffered losses in some instances,” Lee acknowledged.

However, the manufacturer has continued to put in the effort needed to build the company.

And today, its efforts were recognised.

“Having good employees is very important. The company cannot be successful with just me and my wife alone.

“We have many employees who have been with us since the beginning. We work together very well and we share the same passion,” he said.

The other grand winner at SOBA 2017 was advertising agency Forefront Studio Sdn Bhd, which clinched the grand prize of Malaysian Business of the Year for the under RM25mil sales turnover category after four years of participating in SOBA.

Forefront’s perseverance is certainly an example for other small businesses to follow.

The company also won Gold awards in the Best Brand and Best Employer categories and a Platinum award in the Best in Marketing category.

“I’m humbled and thankful. After four years of participating in SOBA, we finally got to this stage,” said Forefront chief executive officer Darien Mah.

Meanwhile, process improvement and technology company ABBE Group (M) Sdn Bhd took home the Rising Star award. Managing director Ho Wai Loon dedicated the win to his team.

“I’m happy and excited to have received this award. I believe that passion and the right business model are what got us this award.

“At the same time, teamwork is important as success comes from everyone working together,” he said.

Other winners in the above RM25mil sales turnover category included FMC Greenland chief executive officer Terry Lee who won the Male Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Other winners in the under RM25mil sales turnover category included Googolplex Properties Sdn Bhd group chief executive officer Christopher Liang (Young Entrepreneur of the Year), K-Pintar Sdn Bhd chief executive officer and founder R.A. Thiagaraja (Male Entrepreneur of the Year) and Sirius International (M) Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Anne Lim (Female Entrepreneur of the Year).

SOBA, which honours up-and-coming local, non-listed companies and SMEs, is open to all local enterprises that are not part of a multinational or listed group, and incorporated in Malaysia with foreign equity not exceeding 50%.

For SOBA 2017, the awards continued to have two broad categories – one for enterprises with a turnover of more than RM25mil and the other for those that have generated less than RM25mil per annum – to recognise the achievements of upcoming small businesses as well as more established SMEs.

SOBA has seven “Top-Of-The-Class” awards, namely, Best in Marketing, Best Brand, Best in CSR, Best Green Initiative, Best Employer, Best Innovation and Best Global Market, as well as three “Outstanding Achievement” awards, which are Rising Star, Entrepreneur of the Year (Male/Female/Young) and Malaysian Business of the Year.

This year, the Grand and Platinum winners will receive editorial publicity in SMEBiz while Gold and Silver winners would equally have their share of publicity in the MetroBiz section.

All winners also took home the coveted SOBA trophy, are eligible for preferential rates for ads in The Star carrying the SOBA logo, have the rights to use the SOBA logo/monogram on corporate and advertising and promotion collaterals as well as get the chance to speak at special talks organised by Star Media Group.

In addition, the Rising Star winner received a cash award of RM10,000 sponsored by CGC.

SOBA 2017 is organised by Star Media Group with AmBank, DiGi and Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) as main sponsors, Credit Guarantee Corp Malaysia Bhd (CGC) as co-sponsor, Matrade as official trade promotion partner and Connexion Conference & Event Centre as official venue sponsor.

It is endorsed by the Secretariat for the Advancement of Malaysian Entrepreneurs (SAME), Prime Minister’s Department, and the Finance and International Trade and Industry ministries.

It is supported by Bursa Malaysia and audited by BDO, with 988, SuriaFM and dimsum as official media partners.

For enquiries, call The Star events business unit at 03-7967 1388 ext 1432 (Jasmine)/ 1657 (Victor) or visit




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