Local furniture firm rebrands to preserve family legacy

Mr Morgan Yeo's takeover of his family-owned furniture business, JR&P Industries, happened under a dark cloud.

The Singapore Management University business graduate had been working in property development for only slightly over a year when his father, Mr Roger Yeo, was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in February last year, forcing him to take over the reins earlier than expected.

"It came as a shock to the whole family," says the 27-year-old bachelor, who quit his job to help with the business while his dad went for treatment. Mr Yeo died in August last year, aged 64.

Thankfully, the trade was not completely foreign to the younger Mr Yeo. His father started the business the year he was born, which meant he grew up visiting the company's workshop - often helping the carpenters with simple tasks as a child.

Still, having to take over a business as a young fresh graduate came with a host of challenges.

"I didn't know where to start," Mr Yeo says.

"Without my dad there to guide me, I had to learn fast - everything from how to make a piece of furniture to the jargon used in the industry."

But in doing so, he realised quickly that the business model used by his father was too antiquated for the 21st century.

"Carpentry is a dying trade and by producing mass market office furniture, we were not maximising our potential to include design elements and elevate the artistry of the trade," he says.

Realising that the focus of the business needed to change to move forward, Mr Yeo had discussions with his mother,

Mrs Maisy Yeo, and younger brothers, Lincoln, 24, and Ryan, 20, before collectively agreeing that the business should be rebranded.

It was after these discussions that Roger&Sons, was born - paying homage to their dad and offering customised carpentry work.

"By rebranding, we were able to do more than just build basic shelves and desks. Clients these days are well-read and it's great that we can advise them on everything from materials to finishings for their custom design projects," Mr Yeo says.

He also pushed for the company to have a presence on social media, so the younger generation can see and appreciate the gritty side of things.

The brothers rolled out the company's new branding, website and social media sites last August, but not before they shared the vision for the company with their father. "He was incredibly proud that the whole family had come on board to build the brand together," says Mr Yeo. "I think it meant a lot to him that we were keeping the business going."

Since starting Roger&Sons, Mr Yeo has moved the business from the original location in Sungei Kadut to an openconcept 3,000 sq ft workspace in Woodlands, which also features a showroom.

"I want customers to be able to feel the materials and see the options of finishings that are available to them.

"They can also see the carpenters at work and watch their furniture being built - it's all part of the experience," Mr Yeo says proudly.

The company's social media profile also play strongly on the heritage and craftsmanship of their carpentry, summed up by the snazzy new company catchphrase: We don't cut corners, we make them.

Asked about how he feels about taking over the family business, Mr Yeo chokes up slightly before saying: "My father may have died last year, but I feel blessed that he left me something like this. The stakes are different with a family business. For us, it's not just about making money - it's also about preserving my dad's legacy."