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How Quek Huilin reinvigorated her family’s kitchenware company

Quek, the CEO of Q Industries International, transformed the family business from a product distributor into an integrated solutions provider.

Traditionally, a kitchenware distributor would send its staff to a client meeting laden with catalogues that the client would then have to laboriously flip through.

“When we meet our customers, we don’t bring a single catalogue,” says Quek Huilin, CEO of Q Industries International, whose products include kitchenware, tableware, buffet ware and a lot more.

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“Instead, we say: ‘Let’s get to know each other, talk about your pain points and what gets you excited’. Then we curate and deliver the products that make their lives easier,” says Quek, who studied hotel management at Swiss hospitality school Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne and joined the family business in 2005.

Under her tenure, Q Industries has evolved from a product distributor into a consultant that designs integrated, customised solutions for the specific needs of each client.

Quek’s intuitive approach has worked well. Today, Q Industries, which her parents founded in 1987, has worked with over 1,000 clients in South-east Asia, India, Africa and the Middle East. These include top hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants, bars and clubs, and the occasional pop-up.

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Q Industries might be a family run business – the elder Queks are still nominally involved and the CEO’s younger brother Kwan Yi joined in 2017 – but it’s managed to avoid insularity. In 2014, for instance, it engaged Christophe Megel, former executive chef of The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, as an external director. The hire is part of its new business strategy involving digitalisation.

In 2019, the company revamped its entire operating system, moving from an “old and cumbersome legacy system” to a cloud-based one. Last month, it launched a B2B digital platform. Customers can view its inventory and place orders directly. “We’re trying to demystify and simplify the whole process. If this transparency helps clients run their business successfully, they’ll continue to keep buying from us,” says Quek. “It’s an organic cycle where each supports the other.”

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