DR. YE NING

Dr. Ye Ning is the executive director of Sun Japan (Singapore) system pte ltd. Starting the company in 1993 as a small technology based company providing professional services in automation and its applied areas. Today, Sun Japan has evolved and has grown into the market leader in supplying and installing car parking systems and other related products in Singapore.

Business Profile:

From a humble beginning as a small technology-based company providing professional services in automation and IT application areas in the early 1990s, today Sun Japan (Singapore) Systems Pte Ltd has evolved and grown to become the market leader in supplying and installing ERP type of car parking systems and other parking related products in Singapore. They are proud that their SunPark Cashless Parking Systems & Parking Guidance System can be found in more than 450 car parks in Singapore. 
Sun Japan is continually developing their R&D and business capabilities to provide better products with new innovation for meeting the ever changing needs of customers. Their high quality and reliable products coupled with reputable after-sales service give confidence and satisfaction to their customers. 

Interviewer's Comments:

Dr. Ning Ye is a very down to earth person and has a never say die attitude towards his business. Even though he does not have a business background, he is willing to take up the opportunities that has been given to him. I was inspired how he has been able to adapt to a new environment (Singapore) and to do something different through research and development to contribute to the company. 

Interview:

  1. What is the nature of your business?
    To provide information and professional automation service for consultancy, design development, manufacture, system integration, installation and maintenance. Our main focus is car parking and smart card application systems.
  2. When and why did you decide to become an entrepreneur / take over your family business? 
    The Company was set up in 1993 by Sun Japan Corporation, a company located in Tokyo, Japan. First, I was approached to do research and development. Due to changes in company focus on different lines of business, Sun Japan Corporation transferred all of its shares to two of the company's directors in September 2003, and the Company, Sun Japan (Singapore) Systems Pte Ltd, became an independent company.
  3. What are your reasons for choosing to do business in this particular industry?
    The set up of the company in Singapore was because of the government policies for attracting foreign investment and encouraging R&D activities; And strong business environment in Singapore such as English language, financial and legal system, stable politics. 
  4. How did you put together all the resources needed to start your business? For example: getting the start-up capital, hiring staff, doing sales and marketing, advertising, etc.
    Encourage by Economic Development Board (EDB) officers, the company was started in 1993 at Science Park 1 as a R&D subsidiary with fully 100% holding by the mother of the company. In the first 3 years, the company achieved a R&D result (a patent was granted in 1996, Japan) but the financial results were always negative. It is easy to commence a business but not easy to do the business well (in any country) if we do not obtain a clear objective and direction with feasible plan that are suitable to the related setting. To solve the problem, we stopped working behind closed doors and started to for local projects. We also started to pay more attention on Singapore business setting and market requirement.

    Fortunately, with HQs assistance, we participated in software development and were-in-charge to implement a Computer Integrated Manufacturing System (CIMS) for Toshiba Chemical Singapore at Tuas in 1997, and obtained a Project Excellence Award from Toshiba Engineering Corporation.

    Our company also developed and implement a smart card gold driving control system for Orchid Country club in 1998. The system that we made, it has been functioning for more than 14 years!

    At the same year, we also achieved a NSTB support R&D project Development of a Smart Park Pricing System, a related patent was granted in Singapore in 2000.

    However, it is only after developing and implementing the pioneer Cash Card car parking system at the JTC Summit in 2000, the company stepped to a steady growing stage, along with the great transformation of Singapore car park industry from using coupon/paper ticket to cashless systems. The companys annual revenue increase from 1 million to 2000 to 11.7 million in 2011; There was only 4 SunPark parking system at the end of 2000, and now you can find SunPark cashless parking systems and SunPark parking guidance system at more than 450 car parks in Singapore ( SunPark
    ® is the regisred trade mark for our car parking products/systems)

  5. What are some interesting stories you have about your first few customers/first few years in business?
    Once when I was presenting a cashless car parking system to Jurong Town Coperation (JTC), The client asked me do you have any experience in the car parking system and I answered, No, the system has not yet be developed, but we have experience in a similar system that uses store value cards for feeding  golf balls automatically, and I know how to make an idea into reality. Fortunately, JTC was open minded towards new technology and willing to work with us. From then on, my team and I started working on the project as well as sourcing for manpower. 
  6. What is your business competitive edge? How does your company stay on top of the game?
    By utilizing effective market orientated research and development. We also provide high quality products with long term customer orientated service.
  7. How did you overcome these challenges? Please share some specific examples of the action you took to overcome the challenges.
    by studying the technology and business environment of Singapore, identifying local market requirement, matching company strong points to the market needs to find ways suitable for the company's development.
  8. Can you remember your worst day in business or a time when you felt like giving up? What happened that made you feel that way and how did you triumph over it?
    During the first three years, I focused solely on R&D. However, the plan put in place by the mother company did not go as planned thus we were asked to switch to business. As mentioned earlier, my training was in R&D, for that reason, I was clueless about business. Consideration about quitting aroused but simultaneously, I thought about the research that my team and I had done. The thought about it made me decide to continue with the company and to be on the look for a potential market in Singapore.
  9. Can you share some of the lessons you learnt from overcoming your own business challenges that you think will help other businesses?
    When I meet challenges, I don't give up. I analyse the problems and think how can I do properly something about it or look for other ways to approach it. Last but not least, always stay open-minded. 
  10. When was the moment you realised the business would work and support you?
    When I was doing the project with JTC, they liked our idea very much and was willing to work together with us. The project soon became a success. Our company had done an excellent job that marked our journey to kick start the project as a business and continuously develop new systems to further improve efficiency. 
  11. What are some of your proudest business achievements to date? And why are they so important and meaningful to you? 
    The proudest achievement to date would be pioneering the implementation of the cashless parking system in September 2000, and be our participation and contribution to the transformation of Singapore car park industry from using ticket/coupon systems to adapting automated cashless parking systems.
  12. How do you differentiate your business from your competitors? Please provide specific examples.
    Our company is well known for service after sales whereby customer satisfaction and care is our utmost priority. In other to do so, we seek to provide reliable products with high performance and cost effective solutions to our customers. 
  13. What are some business ideas you have implemented that created great results in your business?
    Having the idea of a cashless parking system and having successfully implementing it has created great results in our business.
  14. Where or who do you get your business ideas from?
    The idea came about when we realised that the initial parking system through usage of tickets/coupons and payment through notes and coins were not only troublesome but lead to many difficulties. It allowed us to recognise that there was a need in the market to improve on the aging system, to provide convenience to users via the use of a cashless parking system. By doing so, the users will not have the need to physically take money from their wallets but instead make payment via their cash card. The cashless solution can solve also the problems of possible revenue loss due to cash handling, of the waste of papers, and etc.
  15. How do you promote learning within your Company? What are the training opportunities that you provide your staff?
    The training courses for the staff are done by internal facilitators whereas managers and assistant managers are trained by external professional training firm. The objective of these courses is to foster confidence, teamwork, leadership, communication, decision making skills among the staff.
  16. How will you describe your working relationship with your customers, suppliers and service providers?
    Firstly my company and I strive to treat my customers, suppliers and fellow staff with the utmost respect. I enjoy abiding by the philosophy that when we treat each other with mutual respect and in a win-win situation, we will naturally build a long lasting relationship. 
  17. Why is being socially responsible important to your company? When did your company start its CSR journey/efforts?
    We truly believe that either a person or a company should seek for long term sustainable and healthy growth, but not always the maximization of benefits/profits. Being socially responsible help us to obtain a better/more favourable setting to live in.
  18. What do you see for your business in the next 5 years, and does it include any plans for expansion?
    I would definitely want to keep the business running smoothly [laughter]. However, I do not have a feasible plan for further expansion to overseas market. Firstly, this is due to infrastructure. In Singapore, the infrastructure is already in place. All of motorists have cash card/CEPASS card, and almost every vehicle is equipped with the card reader (the In-vehicle Unit). To expand to other countries, it would be more complex. Take a city in China, there are many cars that come and go from various states thus there are many different cards. So, in terms of infrastructure, it will take time to standardise. Meanwhile in Singapore, government had decided to replace coupon system by electronic parking system (EPS) for majority of housing development board (HDB) car parks within 3 to 5 years, we are busy in implementation of EPS systems with our business partners for HDB car parks.
  19. In your opinion, what else can be done to help sustain and grow SMEs?
    Getting a well understanding of the local business setting through network session with the relevant business industries. Becoming a member of business groups helps link business interest and to provide general informative talks/sessions on the government's policies and guidelines
  20. What are some entrepreneurship qualities that you have which has helped you come this far?
    You have to keep fit at all the time,so you will have healthy body. Another qualities would be open minded. It because we have realize that every event and situation is a business opportunity. Ideas are constantly being generated about workflows, skills and new potential in business industry.

    Self improve is another quality that has help me so far

  21. What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
    To me , Entrepreneurship are people who are willing undertake (pressure, risks, responsibilities) lat but not least,  They are people who know how to solve problems by teamwork (leadship)
  22. Do you mind to mention 2-3 contributions (with respect to corporate social responsibility) that your company has achieved in Singapore/Asia.
    We have been working on our company vision since 2008, which is To create more value and a better future for customer, staff and stakeholders through our continuously improved teamwork, and to build up a care and share environment in the company. At the company level, we stress that staff should grow with the company and share together the company's profits by doing the following, Staff training (external training course and internal training),Sharing the company's profits through staff bonuses,Additional profit sharing for all staff who have worked in the company for more than 1 year

    We have a relatively low staff leaving rate (average 9%/year in the past 5 years)

    Our main products, such as cashless car parking systems and parking guidance system, are with improved social and environment impacts as ,Paperless (saving nature resource),Cashless (reducing revenue loss due to human mistake and loop hole),Fast process (saving time, improving the utilization of car park),Per minute charges (pay as used, reducing cheating behaviors),Automation (improving operation and management efficiency),Make parking easier.

  23. What advice would you give young people who want to start their own business?
    Open minded, Hard work and undertake. Open minded allows us to observe objectively, listen carefully, adopt new ideal effectively, and finally to find a suitable way for the business. Long term hard work can help us to accumulate knowledge, experience and to speed up the process of growing up. Remember, when you want to start your own business, ask yourself, Do I prepare to undertake pressure, risk and responsibilities?