Share on:

How Rigel’s Christopher Ng talked 100 employees out of a strike

The founder and EY Entrepreneur of the Year isn’t afraid to take a hard stance.

At 56 years of age, the first thing Christopher Ng does in the morning is to do pull-ups and skip rope. He needs to be fit, as he puts it, for the road is still long to building his bathroom technologies business into a global company – his goal since he launched it in 1991. Over 27 years, Rigel Technology’s growth has been slow but steady.

After having cast its net in the Asia-Pacific, with registered offices in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and China, it will spend the next few years solidifying its position, before branching out to Europe and the Americas.

(RELATED: The Peak Next Gen | How Rachel Lim of Love, Bonito, scaled a $500 blogshop outfit into a regional business)

For growing the business to this stage, Ng is this year’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Sustainable Bathroom Solutions. Trained in computer science, he put his expertise to good use in assessing the intelligence behind automatic flushing and sensor taps. The Government had, in the ’90s, pushed for better hygiene in public toilets and Ng seized the opportunity to start a business. Today, Rigel has close to 400 staff, and its bathroom products – which cover toilets, faucets and sensor-operated flush valves – can be found at prominent public spots such as Changi Airport, Marina Bay Sands, National Art Gallery, as well as Pavilion Mall in Kuala Lumpur and Tianjin Eco-city in China.

The company owns two manufacturing facilities in China and Ng recalls the teething problems there that tested his mettle. At one plant that employed 100 people, the staff would just go on strike, Ng says. “One time, the whole factory ganged up and refused to work because they demanded something. We had to take a hard stand – take it or leave it. We managed to persuade them, and they softened. After that, we could pinpoint the instigator, then we could fire.”

The incident reinforced his approach to tackling issues. “You must maintain a clear mindset. Any problem can be resolved; it’s a matter of how well and how fast. As long as you’re persistent, and think hard enough, you can overcome any obstacle.”

(RELATED: How business leaders and SMEs can attract and retain talent in Singapore)

 

IN SHORT

MENTAL RESET.

I jog, where I can forget everything. No one will disturb me and I can keep my mind fresh.

MUST-HAVE APP FOR PRODUCTIVITY.

Evernote.

WHAT HE WOULD LIKE TO GIVE HIMSELF THIS CHRISTMAS.

Wi-Fi speakers. I love music, so I buy a lot of speakers.

(RELATED: Why PatSnap’s Jeffrey Tiong asks potential employees to create slide shows documenting their life)