"We started as a partnership between Bernard Lim and Jeremy Koh in April 1992 under the name of "Design Studio". The partnership was initially engaged in the trading of sofa sets. Towards the end of 1992, we moved to a 5,000 sq ft factory and office at 64 Sungei Kadut Street 1, Singapore 729635, which we had leased to cater to the expansion of our business.
In March 1993, we began to phase out our sofa trading activity and ventured into the manufacture of bedroom sets and the provision of interior renovation to residential properties.
Following the expansion of our business, we incorporated a private limited company, Design Studio Pte Ltd on 5 March 1994 to carry on our business.
In May 1994, we purchased our first factory and office property with a total land area of 43,185 sq ft at 23 Sungei Kadut Street 1, Singapore 729323, in line with our business expansion plans.
Our factory in Singapore commenced the production of bedroom sets and the manufacture of kitchen cabinets, wardrobes, doors and other furniture components according to the designs and specifications of our customers who were mainly retail customers. In January 1995, we changed our name to Design Studio Furniture Manufacturer Pte Ltd to better reflect the nature of our business activities as a furniture manufacturer.
In 1996, we expanded into interior fitting-out for residential, commercial and retail properties as we felt that it would be a natural extension of our business as a furniture manufacturer. With the ability to manufacture and supply a range of furniture, we were able to provide some of the furniture required for the interior fittingout projects with the designs required by different customers.
Our Company registered ourselves as one of the accredited renovators with the Renovation and Decoration Advisory Centre ("RADAC") in May 1996. RADAC was set up as a non-profit voluntary watchdog body to provide greater control in the renovation industry in Singapore, as well as to educate consumers on renovation related issues.
Also in 1996, our management identified the potential of supplying our Panelling Products to corporate customers, then comprising mainly of property developers and main contractors. We began to bid for projects for the manufacture and supply of our Panelling Products to residential property developments.
To cater to the expansion of our business, we embarked on a strategy to automate our manufacturing processes so as to position ourselves to take on the manufacture, supply and installation of Panelling Products such as kitchen cabinets, wardrobes, vanity cabinets, doors and doorframes, for large-scale residential property development projects.
We also adopted the modular building concept. By building our Panelling Products in modules that can be easily assembled during installation, we were able to achieve increased efficiency in terms of speed of manufacturing and raw material usage. With the automation of our manufacturing processes and the adoption of the modular building concept, we were able to produce a full range of Panelling Products quickly, economically and of consistent quality. This allowed us to manufacture, supply and install kitchen cabinets, wardrobes, vanity cabinets, doors and doorframes to residential property developments to cater to the demand for Panelling Products in residential homes.
With these changes in place, we were able to work with property developers to participate in large-scale residential property projects of more than 300 units in the development.
In October 1996, we were awarded our first residential project, Oleander Tower, for the manufacture, supply and installation of wardrobes for the project's 318 residential units. With the experience gained from the completion of the Oleander Tower project, we went on to tender for the manufacture, supply and installation of Panelling Products for other large-scale residential property developments.
Subsequently, we tendered for and were awarded contracts to manufacture, supply and install Panelling Products for residential property projects including the Guilin View Condominium (655 units / 1999), the Hillington Green Condominium (480 units / 2002), the Yishun Sapphire and Emerald Condominiums (816 units / 2002) and the Queens Condominium (722 units / 2002).
Our involvement in interior fitting-out also enabled us to capture market share in both the primary residential property market consisting of new developments and the secondary market of existing properties requiring upgrading and renovation works. During this period, we gradually phased out our manufacturing of bedroom sets.
In May 1998, we launched our veneer-wrapped sub-frame system as an initiative under the modular building concept. This system is applied to the installation of doors and doorframes such that we are able to install the sub-frames for doors onsite while leaving the outer frames to be installed only when the site is ready for final finishing work. This reduces the risk of the outer frames being damaged while a project is still under construction, thereby decreasing the need for replacements.
Based on our Directors' industry knowledge, we believe we were one of the first manufacturers in Singapore to implement the veneer wrapped sub-frame system.
To further improve our manufacturing processes, we purchased and installed computerised machinery such as the membrane form press machine in January 1998 and the veneer profile wrapping machine in May 1998 to carry out lamination and membrane wrapping, and profile wrapping for our Panelling Products.
These machineries were purchased under the Local Enterprise Finance Scheme ("LEFS") awarded by the Singapore Productivity and Standards Board (now known as SPRING Singapore). Our first project which adopted the veneer-wrapped sub-frame system was the manufacture of doors for the Guilin View Condominium in April 1998 (completed in 1999).
In August 1998, we were awarded the grade of L4 under the interior decoration category (CR06) by "BCA" Building and Construction Authority and became a registered contractor with the BCA.
In July 1999, our Company was upgraded to the grade of L5 by BCA for the interior decoration (CR06) category accreditation. L5 (CR06) grading allows us to tender for public sector projects of value up to $10 million (the next renewal date for our licence is in August 2006). Although the BCA grading is only compulsory for public sector projects, some private developers require such BCA grading as an assurance of a minimum level of standard from us. As of December 2002, there were approximately 31 companies registered with the BCA under the L5 (CR06) grading. In the past, we had focused our efforts on private sector projects.
To date, almost all our residential property projects are private sector projects. More recently, we had tendered for and were awarded the contract to provide interior fitting-out services for the NEL head office, main workshop and examination building at the Sengkang Depot. Going forward, we may tender for public sector projects if there are commercial and economic merits for us to do so.
Also in 1999, we expanded our business to include the distribution and sale of SieMatic fitted kitchens in Singapore and Brunei. SieMatic, the manufacturer of the renowned German brand of fitted kitchens, competes with other comparable high-end manufacturers of fitted kitchens such as Poggenpohl and Bulthaup.
Some residential property developments in Singapore, such as Ardmore Park, were equipped with SieMatic fitted kitchens, prior to our appointment as the exclusive distributor. The distribution of highend fitted kitchens is synergistic and complementary to our existing business of the manufacture, supply and installation of kitchen cabinets. In 2001, we supplied and installed SieMatic fitted kitchens to residential property projects such as The Edge on Cairnhill and The Ladyhill Condominium. We also supplied SieMatic fitted kitchens to retail clients in Singapore and Brunei. With SieMatic fitted kitchens, not only were we able to offer a wider range of Panelling Products, we were also able to expand our range of clients by supplying SieMatic fitted kitchens to residential home owners.
In February 2000, through our then 51%-owned Malaysian subsidiary, DSSB, we set up a factory in Malaysia with a combined office and factory space of approximately 51,840 sq ft which was fully operational by March 2001. Our production facility in Malaysia mainly manufactures doors and door components. Most of the products manufactured in Malaysia are exported to our Company in Singapore.
In January 2001, we acquired the remaining 49% interest in the share capital of DSSB from the other two shareholders who are also directors of DSSB in equal proportions for a total consideration of RM220,500. Following the acquisition, DSSB became our wholly owned subsidiary.
In June 2000, our Company was awarded ISO9002 certification for our quality management systems by Lloyds. The quality management systems are applicable to the manufacture and installation of cabinets, doors and other panelling products for our Singapore production facility at our previous production facility at 23 Sungei Kadut Street 1, Singapore 729323.
In July 2002, we received the same certification for our operations at our new premises at 8 Sungei Kadut Crescent, Singapore 728682 in July 2002.
It was also in 2000 that we started exporting our Panelling Products overseas, supplying panelling components to a project in Hong Kong. To date, we have exported our in-house brands of products to USA, Japan and Malaysia. Going forward, our Company intends to expand our export business, as we believe there may be a potential niche market in supplying our Panelling Products to certain overseas markets.
We developed our in-house range of Panelling Products under the brand name, PANELZ, in 2001. This serves as a two-prong strategy of introducing quality Panelling Products to the local market and to act as a flagship brand for our Panelling Products in our expansion into the overseas market. With PANELZ, we are able to provide quality Panelling Products at a reasonable price, targeting the middle to high spectrum of consumers. We have participated in exhibitions in USA, UAE, Japan, China and Malaysia with our PANELZ Panelling Products. Since its introduction, we have secured contracts to supply and install our PANELZ Panelling Products to residential property developments and individual retail clients locally, and to export overseas.
In May 2002, we purchased a new office-cum-factory building with a total area of 97,540 sq. ft at 8 Sungei Kadut Crescent, Singapore 728682, to cater to the expansion of our business and to consolidate our production facilities in Singapore. This premise serves as our corporate office and our factory for the manufacture of our Panelling Products. It will also house a showroom, where our clients can view our range of products from our in-house brands PANELZ and i.FORMZ; and later this year, a showroom featuring SieMatic fitted kitchens.
In September 2002, we entered into an agreement with MAP whereby we were granted the sole right to sell the Italian brand of MAP furniture products in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei for a period of three years.
Also in September 2002, we entered into an agreement with DuPont whereby DuPont agreed to appoint and authorise our Company, on a non-exclusive basis, to market, sell and fabricate Corian solid surfaces products for residential and commercial projects (excluding the retail market) in Singapore for a period of three years.
Our Company was placed in the 2002 Enterprise 50 list, as one of the 50 top most enterprising, privatelyheld companies in Singapore for 2002. We have also been placed in the Singapore SME 500 list, representing Singapore's best performing Small and Medium Enterprises, for three consecutive years since 1999 and were the top company in the furniture manufacturer category in 2001.
Bernard Lim, our Chief Executive Officer, was named as one of the Top 10 Entrepreneurs of the Year 2002, a testimony of his abilities and achievements of leading our Group.
In 2004, we created i.FORMZ, a new range of creative products made exclusively with reputable Corian? solid surface materials from the US. Being Singapore's first and only industralised fabricator, we are able to manufacturer i.FORMZ products that are long lasting and affordable. Just like PANELZ, i.FORMZ has gained universal appeal and recognition in trade shows.
In mid 2004, we opened our showroom on the second floor of our HQ to increase our awareness as well as the visibility of our in-house brand of products to both our residential and retail clients. The showroom showcases some of our impressive designs and products that have gained recognition in international trade fairs and overseas markets. Our display of doors and door frames, system kitchens, wardrobes and system vanities have impressed many of our clients as we utilize our showroom to provide sales presentations to property developers and consultants such as architects and interior designers.
Catering to high-end retail and commercial customers, another showroom featuring SieMatic fitted kitchens, is scheduled to open by the last quarter of 2005. With its high quality line of kitchen, the renowned German brand will without a doubt, make a fine impression. This new and improved showroom promises exclusivity each visit.