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Putting the best face forward

Contractor CKR Paints and Coating Specialist knows a thing or two about the importance of maintaining appearances

We often pay little thought to those who keep our public spaces in tip-top condition. For instance, the people who keep building walls freshly painted, lifts functioning properly, and floors well coated. But a lapse in attention to any of these details, and the public will not be shy about making its displeasure known.

Contractor CKR Paints and Coating Specialist, which specialises in improvement works for town councils ranging from the improvement of Housing Board car parks and lift upgrading, to repainting works within a neighbourhood, understands this well.

Despite it being a young company, it has handled many major commercial, private residential and public housing projects — with little room for error or complacency.

Rapid expansion

The company was founded in 2008 under the CKR Group of Companies made up of building and civil engineering contractors.

CKR Paints and Coating Specialist was set up by CKR founder and managing director C Kalaiyarasan Arasu to specifically manage areas of the business such as painting, waterproofing installation and floor-coating works, as well as repair and redecoration projects.

It started off with less than 20 employees, but grew quickly. With a fighting and “can-do” spirits, Mr Arasu tapped his network of contacts to secure projects for the company. Today, the company employs more than 200 people.

Despite being only a decade old, it has earned a reputation for its professionalism and commitment, thanks to an impressive track record.

This includes projects such as painting works for houses at Sentosa Cove and for Changi Airport Terminal 4. Its list of clients includes town councils, government agencies and major construction firms.

CKR Paints and Coating Specialist is also the first company in Singapore to achieve a Building & Construction Authority L6 grading under the CR09 workhead (Repairs and Redecoration).

With the L6 grade, it is able to tender for projects with unlimited tender limits, giving it even more opportunities to expand the business.

Constant learning and innovation

Staying on top of the game is not without its challenges. Like many contractors, CKR Paints and Coating Specialist has to contend with high levies, high overheads and very competitive tender prices.

Nevertheless, it is still able to constantly deliver on the group’s promise to “complete (its) projects on time, under budget and to a high standard of quality”, and remain competitive.

To do so, Mr Arasu says that it is “important for companies to have an open mind and embrace the use of new technologies to increase productivity”.

“As the industry is moving towards the digital age, we also constantly send our workers for training and re-training so that they are equipped with the relevant skill sets and knowledge to perform their work efficiently,” he says.

He adds: “In the long run, by adopting the appropriate technologies, we can save costs and reduce our dependency of manual manpower to perform the same job functions.”

Some examples of innovative initiatives put in place by the company include providing customers with access to equipment such as scaffolding, gondola, and boom lifts.

This reduces its own costs and at the same time, eliminates the need to manage several contractors.

For its achievements, CKR Paints and Coating Specialist was nominated as one of the winners for this year’s Enterprise 50 (E50) Awards.

Jointly organised by The Business Times and KPMG, the E50 Awards recognises the top 50 local, privately held companies that have contributed to economic development in Singapore and abroad.

In the last financial year, CKR Paints and Coating Specialist reportedly had a turnover of $20 million, and managed more than 100 projects.

Eye on the future

Mr Arasu acknowledges that winning this award is important for the company, as it highlights the industry’s recognition of its professionalism and track record. However, it is not about to rest on its laurels.

“Success is not an end — it is a journey. CKR Paints and Coating Specialist is still a very young company, and we have many challenges ahead to overcome,” he says.

“We are humbled and honoured to receive this award, but we will continue to progress, stay focused, and deliver our promise and commitments promptly to our clients.”

To fellow business owners who are starting out in the market, I want to share from my experience is that: “Achieving a healthy sales turnover and staying profitable is important, but not everything.

“One must have the determination, passion and focus to nurture the business, and constantly make adjustments so that it can maintain its competitiveness and continue to progress. I strongly believe in commitment and perseverance.”