...when it comes to our own research and development, we only have a limited budget," he added, referring to a grant from Spring Singapore. Hope Technik is also big on quality and standards. It has obtained the ISO certification for its Quality...
TWO years ago, when the Red Rhino was shown at the National Day Parade, there was an exuberance of pride felt by the team at Hope Technik Pte Ltd.
This is because the light fire attack vehicle was the creation of Hope Technik, a specialised equipment engineering company founded by four engineering graduates from the National University of Singapore.
"Being able to see the outcome (of our efforts) on television was a big thing," said general manager Michael Leong, 33, who is one of the four founders.
The event marked a milestone of sorts for the young firm, which was set up in 2006. Then, with just $10,000 in start-up capital, the four had a common dream of becoming engineers who can craft solutions, "who can design and put things together", added Mr Leong.
Starting from a 5,000 square foot space, Hope Technik set out to provide end-to-end services, from product conceptualisation and design, to prototype development and the manufacturing of a product. They started off with providing motorsports equipment where they designed and produced unique race car stands or what they call "Elephant Legs" for the Porsche Cup cars, among others. This helped kick-start the company in the earlier years.
Relying largely on word of mouth, Hope Technik has grown its customer base to include both government agencies and multinationals such as DHL. Its revenue for 2011 stood in excess of $3 million and about 60-65 per cent of its revenue was from government contracts.
Just this year, Hope Technik secured a mega deal to design, build and launch a space plane prototype for Astrium, the space arm of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS). The deal was signed at the Singapore Airshow 2012.
As a sign of its growth, Hope Technik also shifted to a 50,000 sq ft facility in Penjuru Close last year. Here, both research and development and manufacturing operations are housed under one roof as "customers require very short lead-time", Mr Leong commented. Having R&D and manufacturing together thus enables them to cut downtime and make the changes the customers desire quickly.
It is not just the physical building that emphasises its customer-centric approach. The wide-ranging expertise of its staff plays a pivotal role as well.
"We have a tripartite team comprising software, electronics and mechanical engineers. With this team, we can create solutions. If the mechanical side fails to deliver, we bring in the software team to write a code," said Mr Leong.
Staff development is a goal of the company. It currently has three staff members pursuing their masters degrees and another three pursuing their bachelor degrees - all on scholarships sponsored by the firm.
"The key things are not the machines or the materials that we have, but the people who design and create things. The smarter they are, the more knowledge they have, it is definitely better for the company," said Mr Leong.
As a finalist for the Emerging Enterprise 2012 awards, Hope Technik has great plans for the prizes if the company wins the award.
Said Mr Leong: "We are looking at the consultation packages where the companies (RSM Chio Lim and Accorn Marketing and Research Consultants) will advise us on processes, long-term strategies ... and fund-raising methodologies."
Boosting its R&D capabilities is also on the cards.
"Other projects are funded from customers but when it comes to our own research and development, we only have a limited budget," he added, referring to a grant from Spring Singapore.
Hope Technik is also big on quality and standards. It has obtained the ISO certification for its Quality Management System, the IPC Certification for quality assurance in electronics, and the Bizsafe certification for good workplace safety.
Despite the multiple achievements in such a short time, the company is not resting on its laurels. The team frequently attends conferences and roadshows to prowl for new technologies that can be applied here.
"We push the limits, we allow failures, but we pick up and move on ... we may not be the best, but if we continue, we can put up a good fight with the best," said Mr Leong, with passion in his voice and a spark of enthusiasm in his eyes.