George Chan: “We don’t respond to times of crisis by cutting jobs!”
Singaporean enterprise Dynamic Source has supplied electronic components to leading companies around the world for the past 27 years. At the same time, the company itself has long since developed into a global player in the technology sector.
It was in 1996 that Nokia filled retail shelves with the 9000 Communicator, which heralded the era of the smartphone. And it was in that same year that the predecessor of the sophisticated internet search engine Google was set up by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the first commercial USB cable was launched on the market, and for the first time people sent more emails than letters by post in the USA. So it’s fair to say that the year 1996 was marked by technological progress and invention. But another impressive success story also began that year, and recent years have seen new chapters being written: It was in Singapore that George Chan, now aged 61, founded his company Dynamic Source – a distribution company specializing in electronic components.
Its range of goods and services has catapulted the business corporation to the top of the technology sector. Branch offices in Korea, Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Thailand, India, Europe and the USA have supplied the world market with important electronic parts for as many as 27 years. This is a good reason to look back at the history of the company together with CEO George Chan, to talk about how best to motivate employees, and to take the opportunity to risk a prediction of what the unforeseeable future might bring.
What motivated you to set up Dynamic Source?
George Chan: I trained as an engineer and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electronics. After that, I spent some time in the USA at Advanced MP Technology, where I worked in the technical support department. But then I decided to go to Singapore to help a partner who sold computer accessories, to build his network. Unfortunately that didn’t work out, but I still gained a lot from the experience as it was such an instructive time. For instance, I noticed that many manufacturers of electronic components were having the same problem – they were struggling with a shortage of many technical components. Some parts were scarce, it was hard to source originals; many manufacturers were scared of receiving fake goods, which were widespread back then. I recognized the problem and decided to help these manufacturers with my experience in production and my passion for electronics. My solution was to help them manufacture products with parts that they urgently needed but couldn’t obtain from their usual suppliers. Nowadays, Dynamic Source is a company that is based on two pillars. On the one hand we purchase parts directly from factories. And on the other, our department enables purchasing on the market in order to be able to offer a large selection of solutions at the lowest price.
So you waged war on fake products and took care to provide high product quality at an early stage. How did you manage that?
George Chan: Yes, exactly. Right from the outset, my goal was to take a sustained approach. This means ensuring that both customers and employees work together with us over the long term. At the end of the day, a company only enjoys continued success if it offers the best service. If you think like that, your personal and also your business life is no different to a journey. A journey with a lot of wonderful moments, but also problematic experiences. If I don’t achieve my goal today, it certainly doesn’t mean that I won’t be successful in the future. The most important thing is never staying still. And without a team behind you, you might as well not even set out on your journey in the first place. I am proud to say that many of my employees have been with me since the start. These people are my greatest asset and I take great care to show them what they mean to me. For this reason, employees receive an award for their excellent work and long-standing commitment every five years.
Do you think it is specifically this treatment of your employees and also your customers that has made your company so successful? After all, Dynamic Source is one of the oldest successful companies in the industry.
George Chan: Definitely! However, we believe that being successful also means giving customers the feeling that they are working with a reliable partner right from the start. Hence our company motto: “Your Trustworthy Partner”. Of course, this trust has to be earned first. Trust isn’t something that is just given to you. You have to work for it. And if we carry on gaining customers over the long term, the company will grow automatically. It grows slowly, but surely. And precisely this is the goal we have set for ourselves. It’s good to see that our company is continuing to grow further. We have almost 70 employees in Singapore now, and around 10 employees in Europe. In China we have nine employees, and there are seven in Korea. Our office in the USA also employs six people.
Over the past 27 years, even when problems in the company left us lying there broken and disheartened, we have never dismissed anybody!
You have been successful in the business for 27 years now, and will surely have experienced a lot of good times, but also difficult ones. What was the most challenging time for you, looking back?
George Chan: The toughest time of all was likely the recession in 2008. But despite all the difficulties in the company back then, we stuck to our
And those are...?
George Chan: Not responding to times of crisis by cutting jobs. In the end, we want to remain productive and profitable. And just like our customers, we also see our employees as being part of the company. We are a family, the Dynamic Source family. Over the past 27 years, even when problems in the company left us lying there broken and disheartened, we have never dismissed anybody! That is basically my responsibility, as the father of the family. The past is history. It’s as simple as that. You can’t do anything to change it. My ambition is to satisfy our customers with our work and continue to work with them in the future.
How is Dynamic Source dealing with current challenges such as the shortage of chips and other electronic components?
George Chan: It’s clear that the market is currently recovering and stabilizing. As a supplier, I’m naturally very happy about that. We don’t want to make a profit from our customers’ need. No, that’s not our goal. I often compare us to a doctor. Our customers can come to us with their problems at any time, and we endeavour to solve them. And not just in emergencies.
Looking back at your career, what part of your work has changed over the years?
George Chan: Certainly the technology. That changes very rapidly. For example, when I started out with the business, people were using an IC chip for ten years. That’s no longer imaginable today because products, sizes and designs have changed. Nowadays, hardly any money can be made with older products. We want to keep pace with the speed of technological change. It isn’t always simple, though. Especially as we are not the main manufacturer of the products, but instead the distribution channel. In order to remain constantly up-to-date, I therefore have to cultivate a close relationship with my customers. But that has changed in many ways as well.
Can you explain that in more detail?
George Chan: In the past you naturally had a greater number of face-to-face meetings with your customers. Today, advanced technology enables meetings to be held on Zoom etc. despite such vast distances between locations – and so personal contact is less common. The current generation is simply more connected via digital communication. And this is indeed possibly one of the greatest challenges for us. But over the past 27 years of business operations, something we have managed to achieve is growing up and moving with the times. It’s also an advantage that most of the big companies already know us.
Would you say that your company is in step with the state of the art, then?
George Chan: We certainly have a good basis, but there’s always room for growth. As I said, it’s a challenge to keep step with change. But still I have the utmost faith in our experienced team. And that’s just what it’s all about: Trust, integrity and professionalism. These three tgs help us to be successful and give us the advantage we need to keep pace with these fast-moving times.
We don’t want to make a profit from our customers’ need. No, that’s not our goal.
What motivates you to keep improving every day?
George Chan: When I see that we can solve people’s problems. And that these people and also our suppliers place their trust in us. For instance, my supplier sends me the goods before I have even paid for them. Because he trusts me. And we aren’t talking about an order for 10,000 dollars. No, I mean orders totalling up to 300,000 dollars. It’s all about appreciation that you accumulate for the future. This is exactly the path I have taken and this is exactly what satisfies me.
When you think about the future, what is your vision for your company?
George Chan: I like to compare my company with a tree. A tree that you have to water so it will grow. Success might not come tomorrow. But the day after tomorrow I will be more successful than the day before. The purpose of my business is to help people, we support them in the right way. It has always been like that, and it’s going to stay that way. Of course, you want to make a profit as well. But I believe that if you do the right things, you will earn money. However, if you spend your time running after that money, you might never have any at all …
Interview: Johannes Stuehlinger