Platinum Category

S L Goh Builder Pte Ltd & S L Goh General Contractor

  • Mr Goh Soon Lye  ·
  • Mr Ben Goh  ·

Current Status

Since 2005, the 11-year old S L Goh Builder has been into its present role of building all types of landed property.“We are not very successful yet, but will soon be - having built over 200 houses, including 60 last year - 52 terraced, semi-detached and bungalows,”said Mr Ben Goh, 38, MD, adding, “We acceded to clients' heartfelt requests for bigger houses as we have always depended largely on referrals.” For its first five years, the company was a HDB renovation contractor into A & A works.

Ben, an ‘O’ level-holder, is the only son of Mr Goh Soon Lye, 60, the Chairman, who starting out as a sweeper with his primary six education in English, went on to become a sub-contractor at 20. And in 1987, founded his first company. And the second, S L Goh Builder, in 2000 - with the help of his son who had inherited his entrepreneurial vision and blood.

“One of our biggest projects was building a S$3.5m bungalow in Sentosa Cove complete with a swimming pool,” volunteered Ben, adding, “Usually, our projects are worth S$1.5m to S$1.7m.” Sales turnover reached nearly S$15m last year from S$10m in 2010 and under a million in 2000. The company now employs nearly a hundred foreign workers and 20 staff including 14 managerial, with nearly 20 vehicles.

Said Ben,“While importing marble and granite from overseas, S L Goh Builder also manufactures its own aluminium products.” An aluminium workshop and warehouse occupy the first floor of its 7,000 sq ft, three-storey building at Changi North. The second and third floors serve as workers' dormitories. While SL Goh Builder is booming, unfortunately S L Goh General Contractor, the earlier company, is now declining, into just a few small jobs – from its peak period once with A & A jobs in factories and power stations.

The Father-Son Camaraderie cum Partnership

Beginning as a ten-year old, Ben accompanied his dad to construction sites, working out quotes for him, and painting houses and factories during school holidays.“Setting me firmly on the road to entrepreneurship even from a tender age,” he said gratefully, adding, “The resulting camaraderie cum partnership is helping to effect a smooth, second line transitional leadership in our traditional Chinese company which believes in integrity, honesty and fair treatment of workers, our extended family.” Not to forget filial piety and respect for old age with its experience and wisdom.

Now although semi-retired and turning up only in the mornings, the senior Goh still ensures high workmanship at job sites.“We owe everything to him,” said Ben residing with his family in Pasir Ris, just five minutes away from his parents. And now practically leading the company, having learned all the ropes. “We are very close - and also very open to each other - like two siblings. This sometimes leads to conflicts, but only creative conflicts,” assured Ben, whose sister is into purchasing with her own company.

Last year, after visiting his friend's KL factory embroiled in an industrial dispute, on his return, applying the lessons he had learnt first-hand, he converted his seven senior foremen into sub-contractors, paying them on the basis of their work. “Now they can earn up to $15,000 a month, ensuring speedier and more effective implementation of our projects,” said Ben whose friend after seeing the results, speedily did like-wise – with encouraging motivational results. “With our reputation and good service, banks which have always been supportive, helped us all along to stay afloat.” Workers have always been well taken care of with a Chinese New Year Dinner and frequent buffet lunches on project completion, among other things.


“We will continue to build bigger and better houses for our clients, even while looking forward to becoming a developer ourselves by buying land, building houses and selling them,” said Ben, eager not only to build on his father's achievements but also transcend them.

“Your clients and customers are your most valuable assets. So understand them well and be courteous and sincere - to EVERYONE of them. Fulfill what you promise. And treat every house as your own, for building it with pride and love - and less defects.”