“We run a humble business”, say the brothers, Mr Seah Soon Guan and Mr Seah Jee Nguan, founders of the long-standing catering business since 1978.
Relying solely on old-time clients’ goodwill, Lye Heng Catering Service** humbly attests to next-to-no branding, but exceptional service they refuse to compromise on – a quality that is few and rare in businesses of all kinds, and something their customers take to heart and appreciate.
Through hundreds of referrals over the years, the company that began with a “freelance” operating system in 1978, today, has no lack of followers for its Asian Chinese Cuisine.
“We were very fortunate to have earned a large base of supporters throughout our journey in business”, elaborated younger brother Mr Seah Jee Nguan who began by helping his older brother with food orders just after National Service.
The brothers were only 20 and 24 years old when they set out with a mere capital of $2,800. Investing the money in a three-wheeler motorbike, they wisely accumulated gradual funding from hard work and tears with bare minimal help and pumped the money back into the company. Officially, the company registered the name Lye Heng Catering Service** in 1980, which translates to “arrival of prosperity” in concurrence with upgrading their services, this time with their first lorry purchase.
Today, their efforts have paid off with now a team of 16 permanent staff, housed in an office and 1,600 square feet factory located at Woodlands Loop. 34 years on, the brothers still believe that “there’s always room for improvements”.
Before coming into entrepreneurship, Mr Seah Soon Guan, who in his early years entered the food industry as a hawker admits, “I had no intention of doing business”. Later on, he saw an opportunity to carve his own career catering food to small parties among friends and relatives and gave up his job as an employed cook. “It was the only means I had to advancing myself without any education – to do what I was good at”, he related.
In 1978, he initiated a “freelance” catering enterprise. Receiving positive feedback from his customers and with growing referrals, he officially registered a partnership company two years later with younger brother Mr Seah Jee Nguan.
With the intention to expand into seafood, they opened three stalls at different prime locations in the early 1980s. However, due to unhygienic practices in some of the “freelance” caterers, the authorities had to take a more stringent stand on all caterers. The brothers foresaw the need for a proper license and central kitchen to continue in the business of catering. The seafood stalls had to be shut down so that resources can be optimised to expand the catering service.
Deciding to focus solely on the expansion of Lye Heng Catering Service**, they sought to find a more practical location for business at Woodlands Industrial Park where business took off with their first factory.
In 1996, they finally moved to their current factory at Woodlands Loop. It was that same year, they applied for “Halal” certification so that they could expand their customer base and be more inclusive in this multi-racial country. They eventually obtained the certificate in 2000 after fulfilling all the necessary requirement.
Now with its mass appeal to all races in Singapore in line with achieving better quality and healthier food, they were awarded the “Healthy Choice Award” by the Health Promotion Board.
The Next Step
Simply put by the brothers – “our business is one built on passion and service, and all we want is to continue to do our best and strive to improve our services and food which we believe will direct us into the future”.
“No success can come without adaptability, hard work and hardship.”
*Taken from 2012 Successful Entrepreneur. No copyright infringement intended.
** Lye Heng Catering Service is now known as Lye Heng Food Supplies