10 business leaders recognised as Entrepreneur of the Year

From training aspiring pilots to lending money, 10 local entrepreneurs received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award (EYA) 2019 on Tuesday. 

Seven individuals bagged awards under the Established Entrepreneur category, while another three won under the New Entrepreneur category, after rounds of interviews and site visits by the judges. 

Co-organised by the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) and the Rotary Club of Singapore, the award honours local entrepreneurs who have shown outstanding performance as business owners in both emerging or established enterprises.

This year's applications came from businesses with turnover of a few million to over S$40 million, according to Alan Tan, co-chairman of the awards' organising committee. 

One of the Established Entrepreneur winner was managing director and owner of Marunda Utama Engineering, Rachel Wong, who received the award for the second year running. The engineering firm services the marine, defence and other industrial sectors. 

A former hairdresser, Ms Wong co-founded Marunda in 1985 and later took over the reins completely in 1992 when a series of decisions by the business partner saddled the company with S$1.5 million in debt. It took her about a decade to pay all of it off and turn the business around. 

New enterpreneurs, like Revion Ground School's Toh Youhao, were also celebrated. 

Seeing a gap in the aviation industry for affordable and comprehensive ground school training, Mr Toh was driven to work with international flight training organisations and aviation training manufacturers to lower the costs of flight training for aspiring pilots. 

He founded Revion Ground School, which has been touted as Singapore's first part-time pilot training school, in 2016 when he was just 29 years old.

"In today's age of disruption, it is imperative for entrepreneurs to be game-changers so as to remain at the forefront of the future economy," said Thomas Ting, who represented ASME on the awards' organising committee.

"Our winners have demonstrated capabilities in breaking boundaries by either transforming their business operations or making developments in innovation," Mr Ting added, "Many of them have also made efforts to internationalise their business and expand beyond the Singapore market."

In the spirit of reinvention, the award - which has been running for 31 years - will also be revamped as soon as next year, shared Mr Tan, adding that discussions began about six months ago. 

But the award continues to be relevant for businesses, as past applicants have come back to participate again, Mr Tan said. 

Established Entrepreneur winners:

  • David Black, managing director and founder, Blackbox Research
  • James Cheow, CEO and co-founder, and Jjohn Cheow, chief investment officer and co-founder, Crawfort
  • Chee Choon Hian, CEO and founder, Decks
  • Sam Chee Keong, managing director, and Chan Lee Ying, executive director, Hock Seng Hoe Metal Company
  • Rachel Wong, managing director, Marunda Utama Engineering

New Entrepreneur winners:

  • Frank Chen, managing director, BR Metals
  • Dr Collin Ang, managing director, Decision Science Agency
  • Toh Youhao, managing director, Revion Ground School