Force 21 equips national and international defense forces with quality equipment they can rely on.
Contributed By Jeremy Chua
|CN PHOTO: Michael Chan|
“A little neglect may breed mischief: for want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider was lost.” Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of America, clearly understood the need for attention to detail when he said that. It is of utmost importance that no detail is spared, and no stone left unturned when it comes to the defending of a nation’s sovereignty.
Toughness. Precision. Accuracy. Reliability. Those are qualities that we all hope to see in our armed forces. These are also qualities that the personnel in the armed forces hope to see in their equipment as well. Equipment reliability and performance should be the last thing on the mind when in the heat of battle, and that is what Force 21 hopes to achieve with their products.
The brainchild of CEO Daniel Cheah, Force 21 has been in the business of meeting the equipment needs of armed forces, both local and international, for over a decade. Its impressive clientele includes countries in South East Asia such as Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, and even the Middle East, Europe and Brazil.
Their products cover a wide range, from ballistics equipment to rescue and safety equipment. Force 21’s main strengths lies in providing custom tactical gear such as bags and carrying equipment. They have their own manufacturing facilities in China, Vietnam and Indonesia and pride themselves on providing value together with quality and good workmanship to their clients—Force 21 products go through a vigorous quality check, and have to meet the clients’ specifications.
Outlining the process, 42-year-old Cheah shares, “What we do is to make trips down to our clients to understand their requirements and needs, then we will design, build and manufacture the final products.”
Understanding that national defense is not an abstract concept, but one that involves individual lives, Cheah states, “When we recommend changes, we are not just trying to sell products—we want to improve the soldier’s performance through improving the performance of his equipment.” That is why Force 21 tries to stay on the cutting edge by being highly involved in trade shows and having close relationships with laboratories specializing in material engineering.
The defense industry is not something that one would expect an entrepreneur, much less a marine engineering graduate from Singapore Polytechnic to be interested in, here in Singapore. “This industry is rather niche,” admits Cheah. “Initially, I was just interested in military gear and equipment as a young man,” he shares laughingly.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF FORCE 21|
After his National Service stint as a naval officer, he decided to take the plunge. “I took a look at the number of soldiers, and thought that this was a viable market to venture into. I came into this industry with a partner, and we did not engage in much planning. We said to ourselves, ‘Let’s just do it!’” Cheah recalls.
However serendipitous the beginning sounds, the journey has not been easy for Cheah. In an industry that is dominated by established companies, Force 21 felt like a small fish in a big pond. “Things seemed impossible. We did not have the technical know-how, the finances nor the connections,” says Cheah as he looks back at the company’s humble beginnings. “We were surviving hand to mouth, merely concerned with making just enough.”
But things began to take a turn for the better in 2004. “It was when I came to City Harvest Church. Before, I did not have any dreams or vision for my company. After listening to Pastor Kong’s teachings, I began to give myself a chance to dream big.” Cheah recounts.
But the real breakthrough came in 2005 when Cheah took part in CHC’s Arise and Build campaign. “During the building fund season, I sacrificed and gave, and miracles started to happen.” Cheah shared that Force 21 was awarded the “Singapore Promising Brand Award,” and orders began coming in.
Through a strategic partnership with CWT Group, a major company providing supply logistics chain solutions, things are looking bright for Force 21. This partnership saw CWT Group acquiring 70 percent of Force 21’s shares in January last year. “For an SME, sometimes it is difficult to expand operations because of the lack of funding. So I thank God for the acquisition. Now we have the financial backing to expand our operations.”
In the works are plans to reach out to consumers in Singapore. “All this while, we have been more of a business-to-business operation. Currently, we are looking into the consumer market because we received many requests from our clients to make our products commercially available,” Cheah states. Exciting news for the local military junkie, who may want to prepare for worst case scenarios.
“To me, God is really wonderful. I am really happy that I had the opportunity to give to the house of God, the place where I can dare to dream and have visions. Now I have a dream, to expand Force 21 even more in 2011.” Cheah says.
He also attributes his company’s growth to something else he picked up in church. “I did not change my working philosophy much, other than putting into place a systematic way of doing things, which was what I learned from the goal-setting lessons in church.” He concludes, “God never short-changes us. Just give, and believe.”
For more information, visit www.force21.com.sg.