First-timer Onn Wah Precision Engineering bags top prize at E50 Awards

Mr Lam Keng Yew (centre), managing director of Onn Wah Precision Engineering, which clinched top prize in the Enterprise 50 (E50) Awards on Nov 21, 2017. With him are Mr Lee Yong Miang (left), managing director of Expand Construction, which came in t
Mr Lam Keng Yew (centre), managing director of Onn Wah Precision Engineering, which clinched top prize in the Enterprise 50 (E50) Awards on Nov 21, 2017. With him are Mr Lee Yong Miang (left), managing director of Expand Construction, which came in third and Mr Naarayan Raaghavan (right), chairman and managing director of Robust International, which came in second.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Manufacturing firm Onn Wah Precision Engineering is a family business in a sector dominated by big players but it showed that it has what it takes to compete with the very best.

The company clinched top prize in the Enterprise 50 (E50) Awards last night - a win even more impressive given that it was its first time in the event.

Repeat winners clinched the next two spots, with agribusiness firm Robust International in second place and Expand Construction third.

The winners epitomised this year's E50 theme "Innovate, Grow & Succeed: Staying Competitive In Today's Economy", with their ability to stay ahead of the pack at a time of challenging business conditions.

Now in its 23rd year, the E50 Awards recognises the top 50 local, privately-held companies that have contributed to economic development in Singapore and abroad. They are jointly organised by The Business Times and KPMG in Singapore, and sponsored by OCBC Bank.

Supporters include the Singapore Business Federation, International Enterprise Singapore, the Singapore Exchange, and SPRING Singapore.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who presented the awards, told the ceremony at the Resorts World Convention Centre on Tuesday that companies that want to do well in a fast-changing environment must build key capabilities.

These include innovation, internationalisation, harnessing technology and developing human capital.

"Ultimately, it comes down to whether a company's leadership is convinced that it needs to transform, and whether it has the will to transform," he noted, adding that it's this "spirit of enterprise" that will enable firms to stay relevant in the future economy.

The E50 winners are exemplify this ethos.

Three enterprises that have stood the test of time are trading firm Sudima International, precision engineer Feinmetall Singapore and tyre manufacturer and distributor Omni United. They bagged the Five-Year Award, which goes to firms that have made the E50 list for five years.

First-time winner Vector InfoTech scooped the Enterprise 50 Special Recognition Award -Internationalisation.

Launched last year, this award honours firms that can leverage on their capabilities to seize overseas opportunities.

This year saw a particularly big jump in new winners, with 30 fresh faces across a diverse range of industries compared with 23 in 2016.

The manufacturing sector made up a larger percentage of winners at 18 per cent as the sector maintained its strong pace of growth. There were also more food and beverage companies among the winners, with an 8 per cent increase compared with last year.

Winning companies have adopted an innovative mindset to do business differently for long term growth, including relooking at their processes and business operations, said Mr Jonathan Ho, partner and head of enterprise at KPMG in Singapore.

"This suggests many companies are aiming to grow their businesses rather than simply focusing on managing their costs," he added.

Business Times editor Wong Wei Kong also noted that the E50 winners have shown that they understand the need to transform themselves to compete: "Despite this period of global economic disruption, they have well-positioned themselves for success with their relentless drive and tremendous resilience."

E50 participants were evaluated against a range of criteria such as operating profit before tax, turnover and profit growth, management and marketing strategies, governance and overall potential.