In the Pit Lane With: Mr. Wee Kok Wah, Stamford Tyres – Part 2: The Expansion & Going Beyond Singapore

Stamford Tyres, founded by Mr. Wee Boon Kwee in the 1930s has a rich legacy spanning 80 years. With his son, Mr Wee Kok Wah now at the helm as CEO and President of Stamford Tyres, the company has been going from strength to strength, generating an incredible annual revenue of over 250 million. Mr Wee shares With Tyrexpo Series how the company adapted to emerging challenges through the times while retaining its core values.

Mr Wee Kok Wah, President
Stamford Tyres Corporation Limited

Tyrexpo Series: Now, you’ve risked everything, you’ve grown the business, you’ve also started up your own brands as well. It’s a clear diversification strategy. Could you share a bit more about the need to grow your own brands?

Mr Wee: I think if we wanted to go global, especially based from Singapore, where the domestic market is small, we already as a strategy, covered almost most of what we needed to do in the tyre business and the automotive trade. We have retail chains for car automotive, as well as commercial division where we have five centres here (in Singapore) and contract services, and 24 hours services, retread plants. So, we have a very comprehensive coverage of this market, and the only growth that we can see is to go overseas, and we need to cross border. So, the only way we can cross border is to use our own brands and create those brands. They are reflective of Singapore using all the strength that we have; location, financial, product development, marketing and above all, integrity.

Tyrexpo Series: You were very ambitious as well. You acquired initial funding through direct sales and then you moved towards getting listed on the secondary board. Could you share with us your drive to do so, to secure additional funding and such?

Mr Wee: I think the growth in the whole South East Asia in the last 20 years was accelerated. The whole infrastructural growth, it was a peaceful period so everybody wanted to spend money on infrastructure, wanting a better standard of living. So, it was quite opportunistic for us to follow the growth tandem in this area. We took advantage of this growth momentum and then, we grew in truck tyres, we grew in OTR tyres and then we grew in providing value-added services. Today, we have more than 10 centres in Indonesia, we have more than 5 centres in Malaysia and Singapore respectively, and we specialise in port services, mining companies as well as specialise in providing services to contract based on total tyre management programmes. So, Stamford is rather comprehensive in all that, not only we have retail chains, we hope that in the future, we will grow this retail group, especially when our expertise and systems have improved, and our total quality of people and capabilities are all as good as those people in Europe.

Tyrexpo Series: Is that a snippet of what you want to do in the next 10 years?

Mr Wee: Yes, I think so. We have a lot of work to do, we have our own brand Firenza that is coming about and we got it made in Thailand. That is for car tyres. Truck tyres are made in Vietnam, Sumo. These are the two main segments of growth. For the distribution centre, it is mainly focused in South East Asia and we are expanding further by building more support services in the large countries. Don’t forget we are covering a population more than half a billion people. So, we have a big geographical footprint and they just passed the growth take-off period and catching up with what Europe is today.

Tyrexpo Series: Mr Wee, you’ve run an incredible business and I think the hallmark of your leadership has been hardwork, determination, never giving up; you’ve bounced back from many difficulties to create what you’ve done today. We are very excited to hear about your plans for the future. In terms of parting words for the audience who is listening to this, if you could give 2 or 3 tenets that you believe a leader in a business must have to achieve success, what would it be?

Mr Wee: I think number one, the person needs to have integrity. You have to be very honest to yourself, your people, as well as your customers that are most valued. We hope this will drive the values through. All of us share the same thing of working hard, some luck and wish you had a father that had plenty of money. For you to lose, for you to make. So, this is about the best that I could advice anyone.

Tyrexpo Series: Thank you Mr Wee. It has been a pleasure talking to you and we wish you all the best in the years forward.