Charisma. That’s what Simon Kang, the Managing Director of Suriwong emphasizes when it comes to the vital quality needed to achieve business success. According to Simon, it is a quality built on persistence, hard work and trust that Suriwong attains when it comes to dealing with its business collaborators – building a relationship that enables the company to distribute and supply internationally renowned building materials throughout Malaysia, with further plans of an expansion to our neighbouring country, Singapore, and beyond.
With Simon’s brand of charismatic entrepreneurial skills, Suriwong has come a long way since starting out as a hardware shop in Alor Setar, Kedah in 2002. This business entity now consists of a headquarters and two warehouses with branches nationwide. When asked about the origins of the Suriwong name, Simon mentions that the company’s name is of Thai origins with positive connotations. As a northern “Kedahan”, whose state borders Thailand, it is of no surprise that this entrepreneur has selected a brand that is both exotic and exciting sounding. It would soon grow to become one of the most recognisable names in the building industry.
Ever friendly, Simon walks through his Shah Alam warehouse to his office for a late evening interview with Creative Home, greeting employees who have just completed a day’s work. There is a majestic order to the supplies and goods stored at the warehouse – with the seemingly countless array of products arranged in a tidy manner. Brown bricks adorn the walls, adding vintage charm to the set-up.
Suriwong has a distribution partnership with Texan brand, Wilsonart, which specialises in High Pressure Laminates, Quartz, Solid Surface and other engineered surfaces utilised in furniture, office and retail space. TPI, another Suriwong partner whose products Suriwong distributes, is an eco-friendly wood substitution that is suitable for flooring, cladding, ceiling and panelling.
There is also EQUITONE, a brand established in the 1950s that produces thorough-coloured facade materials that are designed by architects. It has found a popular following among its architectural counterparts. Other reputable Suriwong collaborators include Arborite, Gardner, Haro and Solex. These brands are frequently used by the building industry.
To secure business partnerships with these distinguished brands, Simon reiterates his motto: charisma – with persistence, hard work and the intention to build trustworthy relationships with his collaborators. “You just have to do it,” he added with a chuckle.
The Suriwong Managing Director’s persistent attitude is also evident as he ensures that the company mainly liaises with partners that possess an environmental-friendly track record. For instance, TPI is an eco-friendly wood substitution brand that has been certified eco-friendly and its materials can be used for usually wood-based construction.
“Yes, we collaborate with brands that possess various eco-friendly and green product certifications. Some of the prices for these materials may be slightly higher than a basic base-grade product, but we are looking at the sustainability of these materials in the long term,” Simon said. “When low-grade products are used, they may not last long. You’d have to dispose them within a year or a short period of time, hence adding to the world’s waste disposable dilemma. But with quality environment-friendly products, these materials tend to last longer.”
Simon has also earned an array of awards, such as the 2014 Fast Moving Company accolade for the SME 100 Awards, recognition in Retail Excellence at the 2016 Sin Chew Business Excellence Award, a spot among the 30 Semi Finalists at the 2016 JCI Creative Young Entrepreneur Award, and a Building Supply Excellence Award during the 2017 McMillan Woods Global Awards ceremony.
According to Simon, the awards have definitely increased the reputation of Suriwong. Even through the current economic slowdown, Simon and his team continue to persevere – delivering profits year after year.