Four decades ago in 1974, Gaylin began its journey as a small company with just five employees. Since then, they have been paving the way forward to become one of the industry leaders despite the hardships and challenges.
Together with the eldest, the Teo family involved in net weaving
As you walk along Gul Ave in Singapore, you will be attracted by the fencing of Gaylin International Pte Ltd. comprising five wire ropes, which symblise the five brothers who built up Gaylin International and bears testimony of the success and growth of the company.
At the beginning, Gaylin thrived with net weaving. As the eldest son of the Teo family, Mr. Bee Yen Teo bore the responsibility of taking care of his family with his parents at a very young age.
In 1974, Bee Yen Teo founded Gaylin Trading Company, providing wire ropes and maritime services. At that time, together with his second brother Mr. Bee Kheng Teo and third brother Mr. Bee Hoe Teo, there are only five employees working in the office at Beach Road in Singapore.
“At that time, the office rental was too high, I could only afford to rent a table and a telephone for S$300 a month. We worked at the back alley to complete the orders. At night when there was no one around at the back alley. I would light up a lamp and continue to work there.” Bee Yen remarks. Sometimes, there would be urgent orders for the weaving of cargo nets, he would bring the orders back home and his parents and siblings would help out, weaving together to rush the orders.
“My parents and siblings had always given me a lot of support. Now that I have retired, I would always cherish those memories.” Bee Yen says.
Five brothers leads Gaylin to greater height
Later, the fourth siblings Mr. Desmond Teo and the youngest brother Mr. Steven Teo joined the company.
In 1979, after finishing national service, Desmond joined the company as a delivery man for three years. He was only 21 years old. At that time, he had to deliver the goods to various locations. Sometimes, he had to make a number of trips to the Port. Even in the wee hours of the night, he had to be up and about to make deliveries. He was kept busy all the way to dawn.
“When I first started working, I know nothing much about rigging industry. I only know how to follow instruction given by my boss and carry out my delivery task properly. Eventually, I fall in love with this business. Over time, I accumulated knowledge on the many production techniques and products at my fingertips. I have developed a good skill in handling all clients’ problems.” Desmond says.
The five brothers forged their success with their feet firmly on the ground. They were the bosses and at the same time, were also the most skilled workers. When there was not enough manpower, the brothers chipped in as well.
After ten years of the brothers’ hardwork, the sales of Gaylin finally reached a high and steady point. In 1984, the company moved to a 75,000 square foot office in Joo Koon Way, Singapore.
The company grew by leaps and bounds. They started serving the offshore industry, providing load-testing, spooling and rental services. It invested in updated machinery that cost millions to produce larger wire rope slings, cable laid slings and grommets.
“The five of us shared the work load together. Everyone was deeply involved in the running of our company, and was therefore indispensable.”
The eldest pursues arts and the others four remain expanding Gaylin
In 1998, at the age of 48, the founder Bee Yen felt the company’s business was stable and decided to step down from the company in order to pursue his passion in the arts. Over the years, he has already made a name for himself in the world of photography.
The rein of the company was handed over to his fourth brother Desmond. He and the other three brothers shouldered the heavier burden and responsibility. Bee Kheng and Bee Hoe are in charge of operation. Steven, the youngest, takes care of quality control. Desmond oversees the marketing and the direction of the company.
In 1999, in order to secure a foothold in the international market, they renamed themselves “Gaylin International Pte Ltd.”. Despite intense competition, Gaylin became one of the top players in providing rigging to the offshore and maritime industry.
Desmond remarks, “We received recognition from our peers in the industry, because Gaylin capitalizes in its own strengths and abilities. One is enough resources, the other is swift delivery. When a customer places an order for our products, we could do it in two weeks whilst it usually takes others two months to deliver. If the customer needs the goods even earlier, we can provide 24-hours service, and make the delivery in just one week.”
In 2005, the company moved into its newly-purchased factory and office at Gul Avenue, Singapore. The new location covers 245,000 square foot. At that time, they also purchased the largest splicing machine, a 2,600 tonne by 330 feet test machines. Now they own the largest test bed of 3000 tonnes in Asia, gaining the admiration of industry peers.
Gaylin then steadily moved from servicing the regional market to a global one. They made their first and successful foreign venture into Vietnam in 2008. Since then, Gaylin established numerous footholds in and beyond Asia.
In 2012, Gaylin became a public-listed company on the Mainboard of the Singapore Exchange. Not only was this a dream come true, it was also another milestone for the group. Post-listing, Gaylin faced greater responsibilities and increased expectations. The company is always seeking to better serve both its shareholders and its customers, to maintain their support and trust.
Gaylin’s overseas expansion has taken off in the last two years. Through strategic mergers and acquisitions, it now has subsidiaries across 9 countries. It is now an international player with a market capitalisation close to S$250 million. With this expansion, the group headquarters regularly send their staff to review the operations and management of each subsidiary.
Gaylin’s growth and dividend pay-out ratio of 30% have been greatly welcomed by investors.
In terms of the future direction, Gaylin is very clear on where it is headed. That is, to be more diversified and strive to achieve the best returns for their shareholders, as well as providing long term security for their staff.
“One chopstick may be easily broken, but it would be hard to break five chopsticks bound together. It reflects one an Chinese saying, ‘A harmonious family breeds wealth.’” Bee Yen says.
Desmond also remarks, “It’s hard to start an enterprise; to sustain it is harder; to reach a new peak, even more so. When my eldest brother passed the baton to four of us, we worked together to push the business to greater heights. And no matter what obstacles we face, we always come together to discuss and overcome the problems. Now I can really appreciate the meaning of those wise proverbs: ‘Unity is strength’ and ‘A harmonious family breeds wealth’.”
Although Gaylin encountered their share of crises over the years, they came out stronger each time. Desmond greatly appreciate his families and staffs, he says:“Gaylin would not have succeeded without the collective effort of our remarkable management team and staff. I’m definitely not Rambo. Our advancement is similar to a crab which can only advance forward with all its legs moving simultaneously.”
While integrity and hard work are their mottos, scaling new heights continues to be Gaylin’s focus.
This article is published on LRW Magazine vol20, 2015.