‘To me, An Architect is a fashion designer and we are the tailors’: CEO John Kong, M Metal Pte Ltd, talks to Archibazaar
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Published: November 4, 2019

admin | Interviews | 04 November, 2019

    ‘To me, An Architect is a fashion designer and we are the tailors’: CEO John Kong, M Metal Pte Ltd, talks to Archibazaar

    Singapore-based M Metal Pte Ltd produces the highest quality steel and non-steel building products. These include high quality painted steel and aluminium roofing systems, galvanized structural steel floor decking, galvanized C and Z purlins, and accessories. M Metal Pte Ltd is a partner with Kalzip Aluminum Façade Systems of Koblenz.

    In its 10 years of business, M Metal has delivered more than 1500 projects. The company’s diverse portfolio includes Cogent Warehouse at Buroh Crescent (M-Span Cladding), Mega Shipyard at Tuas STH Boulevard 4 ( galvanized steel purlin and M-Clad Roof and Wall) and Captiagreen Tower (RF55® steel floor galvanized structural decking). M Metal was the first company in Singapore to be awarded the Green Mark Certification for profiled roofing/walling products by the Singapore Green Building Product Certificate – making it a “Leader” (4 ticks)  in the certification process.

    As the CEO of M Metal Pte Ltd, Mr John Kong is committed to producing high quality products. He believes in maintaining the highest standards and strictly abides by stipulated standards in the construction industry. For him, the safety of the staff, as well as that of his client, is of supreme importance – In his own words “No compromise”.

    In this interview, we will find out more about his vision for the company and the manufacturing industry.

     

    Q. Innovation and growth of your business are very important. What steps are you taking currently to achieve this?

    John Kong: The roofing industry has been in existence for 30-40 years. Current local practices, including manufacturing and installation, are traditional. I believe there is always room for innovation and invention. I like to explore new ways of manufacturing and to do this; I look to overseas manufacturers for best practices and bring these best practices back to my plant.  I am always on the lookout to combine best manufacturing practices, productivity and safety – as one process. This idea of one process and seeing things in its entirety is critical.

     

    John & Ms Fion Tang's visit to Koblenz Germany - meeting with MD of KalZip. Image © M Metal Pte Ltd.

    John & Ms Fion Tang’s visit to Koblenz Germany – meeting with MD of KalZip. Image © M Metal Pte Ltd.

    To me, an Architect is a fashion designer and we are the tailors. When searching for products and companies, the architect must be able to look at the whole process holistically and not at just one product – like a painted coil – in isolation. By way of comparison, if you were searching for a type of fabric, you would also enquire about the design, its tailoring, where it is made, how its quality is assured.

    In our industry, the questions would be: What does the company offer besides that one product?

    Do they have expertise in the form of skilled, knowledgeable people?

    Do they have the relevant certifications in testament to their quality?

     Do they have physical assets in Singapore?

    When they issue a 10-year warranty, can they fulfil their obligation?

     

    Supply & Install M Span Roof & M Clad Ceiling for Kebun Baru Community Club. Image © M Metal Pte Ltd.

    Supply & Install M Span Roof & M Clad Ceiling for Kebun Baru Community Club. Image © M Metal Pte Ltd.

     

    Architects can become aware of this by listening to presentations by manufacturers they may not have worked with before, who may have an edge in deploying new and superior technology or processes from outside of Singapore. Another reason why this is necessary is that environmental conditions are changing. Old and familiar products may not be able to stand up to say, increased rainfall intensity. New products which were developed to meet these challenges should be used instead. Being open and seeing the big picture also reflects well on an architect’s professionalism, in doing due diligence in seeking out the latest, the best and applicability.

     

    Q. Which project has been the most iconic to your company and has helped in the company’s growth?

    John Kong: In terms of size, complexity and total envelope, Mega Shipyard Development Phase 2 is the most iconic with 121,000sq.meter of roof and 88,000sq.meter of walls.  In my opinion, it is the “Mother of all roofing works in Singapore”. The most satisfying part of this project is that even after six years the roof still remains in tip-top condition. No leak, no rusty screws and the components are still intact. It shows the ability and capability of the M Metal team to undertake and execute such huge project, especially one which located so near the sea, of high complexity and at great height (80 meters above ground).  This project demonstrates M Metal’s ability and skill to execute projects of this scale.

     

    Mega Shipyard @ Tuas South Boulevard. Image © M Metal Pte Ltd.

    Mega Shipyard @ Tuas South Boulevard. Image © M Metal Pte Ltd.

    Marina One is another important project which has 225,000sq.meter of galvanized steel floor decking. The project work commenced right after the former Malaysian Prime Minister Mr Najib and the current Singapore Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsieng Loong cut the ribbon. We seamlessly executed, delivered and coordinated with the main steel fabricator on this job, which was undertaken in the middle of town without any on site storage facilities. The moment where our steel floor decking was required, we went in and did our job, in just-in-time fashion. It demonstrates how we can undertake a huge volume of projects both in terms of the size as well as dollar value, giving confidence to the owners, architects, consultants, main contractors and steel fabricators who use our product.

    We also supplied galvanized steel floor decking of 77,000 square meters to the world-famous Jewel, Changi Airport. The challenge with this job was in its complexity, and the ability to understand how to coordinate with the main steel fabricator to deliver a fine piece of work. In our 10 years, M Metal has truly moved up the ladder. We not only supply quality material but are able to install them. M metal can handle complicated big projects, showing that we are a fine “tailor” indeed, serving our “fashion designer” architects!

     

    Q. Could you talk about your quality assurance and maintenance policy, as well as your safety, health and environment (SHE) policy?

    John Kong: The quality of any product that has been manufactured by M Metal goes through a thorough and rigorous process which is validated by certification. We ensure that the products we buy, like pre-painted coil, meets not only Singapore standard, but also international standard. Rather than shop around for different suppliers, we only work with one reliable painted coil coater who in turn buy from a top-notch paint supplier which is rank second in the world in terms of quality and performance. When it comes to safety, health and environment, even though we are an SME (Small Medium Enterprises), we have a strong safety culture. Take, for example, the galvanized purlin used to support roof sheets. It is very difficult for the resident site engineer to check what is being supplied to the work site.

    Thus, we are strongly committed to supplying the right product and ensuring the quality of the material supplied. We do dot matrix printing at the galvanized purlin’s base which shows the grade of steel used, the base metal thickness, the zinc coating and the size being used. Also, the lubricant used is in strict compliance with the Environment Act.  This allows the resident engineer to easily check the product we supply. We want to give the assurance that when you buy from M Metal, it is guaranteed that you will get the right material with the right specs and the contractor would not have an after-buying problem.

     

    Appointment of new safety committee members for year 2019 and 2020. Image © M Metal Pte Ltd.

    Appointment of new safety committee members for year 2019 and 2020. Image © M Metal Pte Ltd.

     

    Safety starts from the top, as this safety culture within the company will translate to factory and eventually filter down to the worksite. This will help the main contractor to understand that safety is part of being a good business, and is important to the overall construction industry. M Metal even has an active Central Safety Committee. We have monthly safety meetings, safety audits and we do site RA. As the CEO of the company, I chair the safety committee. This sends a clear message that the company is serious about safety.

     

    Appointment of new safety committee members for year 2019 and 2020. Image © M Metal Pte Ltd.

    Appointment of new safety committee members for year 2019 and 2020. Image © M Metal Pte Ltd.

     

    Mr John giving a briefing on Total Work Safety and Health. Image © M Metal Pte Ltd.

    Mr John giving a briefing on Total Work Safety and Health. Image © M Metal Pte Ltd.

    I also instil in our staff the value of safety not only at work but at home. I am on the Workplace Safety Health Committee (WSHC- Manufacturing), therefore I am well updated of the bylaws. I chair the Work Group (Building Capabilities) which is one of the subgroup under WSHC Manufacturing. Beyond beliefs, how is this translated to the ground? For instance, when we install roofs, we install a tested safety Australian mesh which though the project may not specified in the project. We do it because it is our responsibility that our staff is safe and protected. I believe that this safety culture should be embedded in the organization, from the CEO to the sweeper.

     

    Q. What is the significance of M Metal achieving the Green Mark Certification for profiled roofing/walling products by the Singapore Green Building Product Certificate?

    John Kong: It is very important. Because M Metal’s roofing profiles have 4 ticks, we are the leader in the roofing industry. More importantly, this is our responsibility towards the environment. We want to demonstrate to the architectural and construction industry that we care for the environment. Some call us a small-medium enterprises (SME) but I believe that we are a smart-medium enterprise. Achieving 4 ticks comes with a lot of hard work and expense, but I would like to send a message to all the metal roofing manufacturers that they should endeavour to get three or four ticks to do their bit for the community and the environment.

     

    Ms Fion Tang on stage to collect the certification at SGBC Gala Dinner 2018. Image © M Metal Pte Ltd.

    Ms Fion Tang on stage to collect the certification at SGBC Gala Dinner 2018. Image © M Metal Pte Ltd.

     

    M Metal participation in SAF Day Combined Rededication Ceremony 2nd July 2018. M Metal Pte Ltd.

    M Metal participation in SAF Day Combined Rededication Ceremony 2nd July 2018. M Metal Pte Ltd.

     

    Q. What is the one message you want to deliver to the architecture community in Singapore?

    John Kong: Painted steel has evolved. New technologies, new paint systems, and a lot of new metallic protective coatings are being invented and are useful in manufacturing color painted coils for the roofing industry. Architects need to continue seeking out for companies that bring in new technologies and new processes and not shut the doors because of good marketing by other companies.   They should not stick to just one brand but look around to see which companies are able to bring in newly-tested products and allow these companies an opportunity to show their work.

    Young architects are particularly versatile. They may be less informed of pre-painted steel roofing, but we are here to provide alternative reliable  information so that they can choose what is best for each project – “Horses for Courses”

     

    This article is produced in collaboration with M Metal Pte Ltd.

     

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