When Excelpoint started life in 1987 it was a one-man operation selling electronics components. Fast-forward to today and the core business hasn’t changed but the reach of the business certainly has. It’s now the leading regional components distributor providing value-added services in more than 25 cities across Asia–Pacific. Albert Phuay Yong Hen, the Founder and CEO of Excelpoint, says the company was started with a leap of faith and its relationships with employees, suppliers and customers are still built on a solid foundation of trust.
The CEO Magazine: Tell us a little about your background and what inspired you to establish Excelpoint?
Albert: After I graduated I worked with several companies within the electronics industry. In 1987, one of the suppliers I was working with offered me an opportunity to start a business to help them to distribute their components. It required a hefty sum of money and at that point in time I didn’t have the financial ability to start a distribution business. Even though it was a golden opportunity, I knew I had to give it up. When a good friend of mine heard about it, he expressed his faith and trust in me. He didn’t want the opportunity to go to waste. He lent me US$25,000 and it changed my life.
What have been some of the highlights in the history of Excelpoint?
I believe the biggest achievements are the relationships that Excelpoint has built over the years, both locally and regionally. A philosophy I hold dear to my heart is to put my focus on building strong relationships with our suppliers and our customers so they can put their trust in us. One of our biggest challenges was probably in the 80s when China’s economy experienced a downturn.
A lot of companies ceased operations and there were very few new developments or new companies opening in China. I had worked in China for a while before starting Excelpoint and I always saw the potential in the electronics sector. Despite the poor economic conditions at that time, I saw huge growth potential in the technology and electronics manufacturing industry. That led to me taking another bold step: expanding Excelpoint’s distribution business into China.
I won’t deny that those years were challenging. I had to start from the bottom, building trust and relationships, and understanding the Chinese culture. But I never regretted the decision. I’m proud of breaking into the Chinese market. If you manage to build ties with a Chinese businessman and he trusts you, he’ll spread the word and introduce you to other business partners.
Even today that’s how the Chinese culture works.In the 90s we were lucky to catch the technology wave. It was my vision to move beyond pure distribution by adding value to our customers. I set up a research and development team to create good-quality solutions to help our customers. That helped build the reputation we have today as an electronics component distributor with dedicated R&D engineers, who are committed to helping our customers improve their operational efficiency.
What is currently your main focus?
I have a great team to handle the organic side of the business but I still play a role in the decision-making. I’m now more active in the less organic side of the business; my focus is on finding new opportunities to expand and looking at ways to strategically drive Excelpoint forward.
How important is culture?
We constantly strive to create an environment that allows for continuous learning, growth and leadership development. One thing that I’ve always been proud of is the great team we have. Many of them have been with the company for more than 20 years.
How important is R&D to the company? How do you ensure you’re keeping up with current market trends?
R&D is one of Excelpoint’s most important departments. Our engineers are highly trained and we put a lot of emphasis on the quality of our solutions. They work very closely with our sales and marketing teams to understand what’s happening on the ground.
How important are your key suppliers?
They really are one of our top priorities. We continuously value-add by working on new technologies that our suppliers develop and bringing those solutions to our customers. We aim to be the link between both our suppliers and customers, and this helps to maintain a strong relation between all parties.
Similarly, how do you maintain strong relationships with your investors?
We’ve recently established a Corporate Development department that will work on our relationships with our investors. We have been very transparent and now, with the new department, we hope to increase more interactions with them through meetings.
What are your plans for the future?
I’ve always had a vision for Excelpoint to be the best at what it does. It doesn’t need to be a giant, but it needs to be strong and united. Like my principle of building trust, I hope that my people can have faith in the company and then, in turn, they help people to trust them by delivering on their promises and value-adding. This is key for our business as we’re the bridge between our suppliers and our customers. The pioneer generation has done its best to lay a solid foundation for the company, building it organically and gaining a reputation in the semi-conductor distribution industry.
I hope the next generation will bring in fresh ideas to take the company to even greater heights, while still maintaining and preserving its solid foundations. We’re entering a new phase of technology. I envision Excelpoint will continue to be the leading distributor with value-added design services. It will also provide innovative solutions that are applicable to the new rising segments, such as the Internet of Things and smart technology. Strategically, I hope to take Excelpoint one step higher by exploring other partnerships and collaborations.
What makes Excelpoint the market leader in the industry and puts you ahead of your competitors?
We differentiate ourselves through the value-added design services we provide and the level of commitment we offer our customers. In addition, we have the industry experience and contacts to handle the full supply chain if that’s required by our customers.
We’re not merely a distributor, we take it one step further and that’s what truly differentiates us.