A Niche and An Uplifting Achievement

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In an industry which is deemed as stodgy and unglamorous, a Certified Financial Planner and his wife have found their niche, and have never looked back since. Recently, Top 10 of Malaysia meets with Nicholas Gan and Stephanne Foong, a young entrepreneurial couple, who is constantly finding the means and ways to enhance the forklift parts business, and succeeding at every turn. Today, their commitment to EGAN Equipment & Parts Sdn Bhd, is stronger than ever and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Nicholas Gan is an intriguing combination of raw determination blended with a natural amiability and kindness that is rare in the increasingly competitive business world that we live in. Possessing the uncanny ability to put anyone at ease, he also makes it a point to be fully engaged in the moment, which is, as they say, the secret of achieving amazing results beyond normal expectations. As an only child to parents who run their own businesses, Gan was gripped with a sense of independence and an unwavering passion for entrepreneurship at an early age.

After establishing his own financial and investment planning business, an opportunity to start a forklift parts business with his father, Gan Bon Pa, presented itself in 2002. Gan jumped at the chance to begin a business with the man he most trusted and respected, who is also a veteran and legend in the industry. Stephanne Foong, his wife and skilled marketer, joined the business shortly after and helped coined the name EGAN, which means ‘strong spirit’.

Transitioning to such a technical field was rather challenging for Gan. There are literally millions of assortments and parts for forklifts alone. Through sheer hard work and perseverance, not only did he learn the name and number of each and every part, he became very adept in dealing with interchangeable parts. “Back then, the industry was already competitive. But EGAN had the unique skills and knowledge of using interchangeable parts, which is unrivalled till today,” says Gan. “For example, if a customer requests for a forklift component of a certain brand, we would take the initiative to recommend an alternative component that is guaranteed to work just as well but at a fraction of the price. We thrive on providing real value to our customers.”

EGAN does not offer servicing or repair services, preferring to focus on what they do best: finding and delivering the right parts every time. “This is a demanding industry, where customers want their critical machines up and running again as fast as possible. As such, we can’t afford to get a part number wrong.” The 14-strong firm quickly earned a reputation for being the most knowledgeable forklift parts manufacturer in town and also the most well stocked one. “The word in the industry is, if you can’t find it at EGAN, you probably can’t find it anywhere else,” Gan says with a grin. Apart from the most popular and commonly requested parts, his multi-storey warehouse also houses a sizable quantity of discontinued models, which is good news to owners of older forklifts.

EGAN is one of the first in the business to harness the power of the web and social media. “A lot of forklift part manufacturers today are still relying on phones and faxes but we have moved away from that a long time ago,” says Foong. Thanks to their extensive online presence, EGAN has expanded their export network to ten countries including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Singapore, Thailand, China, Taiwan, Pakistan, and Mauritius. Moving forward, Gan plans to set up a regional presence in the near future having received invitations to collaborate with potential partners located in ASEAN countries, even as far as India and the Middle East.

As recognition for his stellar contribution to the industry, Gan was awarded the Prestige Top 40 Under 40 Young Achievers Award and the Prestige Top 40 Under 40 People’s Choice Award in 2013. He was also invited to join the much-coveted Branding Association of Malaysia, a privilege extended to only the best and most recognized brands in Malaysia, and was nominated as an EXCO board member. “These achievements would not have been possible without team work. The 14 of us are like a family. It is so rewarding to witness the growth of my staff over the years. One of them evolved from an unambitious dispatch boy to a well-respected and beloved assistant supervisor managing 10 key accounts,” he says.

Gan also attributes much of his success to his wife. “EGAN would not be where it is today without her contributions. Stephanne was instrumental in many key activities of our company, leveraging on her key strengths of public relations, brand building, strategic thinking, strong analytical skills, and most importantly, a prayer warrior fervently praying for her man.” The couple enjoys working together and spurring each other on to greater heights. “Who better to work with than someone that you most trust? When the day ends, I truly look forward going back home and be able to share my thoughts with someone as intelligent and insightful as her. It’s an honour and privilege. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Issue 23/2016

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