By: Kathryn Gerardino-Elagio
At the 30-year anniversary of machine tool company Hurco (S.E. Asia) Pte Ltd, General Manager Wai Yip Lee reflects on his time with the company, how an opportunity propelled him to build his career with Hurco, and what is in store for the next years to come.
Wai Yip is a driven manager who is always planning on new strategies, keeping the company growing and working alongside his sales team. However, beneath his business competency is someone who forges connections to prepare for a changing future.
As Hurco celebrates its 30th Anniversary in South East Asia (SEA) this year, Wai Yip is both excited and honoured to have the privilege to lead an extremely committed, talented, and experienced Hurco SEA team to cross this important anniversary milestone.
"I am sincerely grateful to my fellow team members and past employees for their contributions and the support from our customers, which allowed Hurco to grow and establish our presence in SEA over the years," he states.
Looking back, Hurco SEA started in Aug 1991 with small team of three member. From the first Hurco KM3 Knee Mill to the current Hurco VC500i Simultaneous Five-axis Machining Centre, our team has grown over the year to the current core team of 16 members. Besides establishing Hurco's presence in Singapore in the earlier years, Wai Yip says that Hurco SEA was heavily involved in supporting Hurco's entry into the China and India markets from 2005. "Hurco SEA has since refocused on developing the SEA market from 2011 with the formation of Hurco China and Hurco India entities," he adds.
Wai Yip shares how two years ago he was thinking about a huge celebration with customers to mark this important 30th anniversary, but with the pandemic, their party plans were on a hold. He reveals, "We will instead focus on supporting our customers during this tough time with their machining needs while building our core competencies to position ourselves for further growth in the next five years."
Wai Yip joined Hurco in 2007 as its Asia Pacific Financial Controller. The opportunity appealed him to be involved in the establishment of Hurco China and India entities. His role extended beyond financial and commercial matters as Wai Yip had a keen interest in operations and sales channel development.
"During my four years as the finance head of Asia Pacific, I provided support to the corporate management team in reviewing the operations, pricing strategies, and communicating with channel partners. With the subsequent establishment of local Hurco teams in China and India, I transitioned to the role of General Manager of Hurco SEA in 2011 and have since focused on developing our sales channel in SEA and expanding into new markets like Taiwan and Australia," he discloses.
Wai Yip considers himself fortunate to have mentors from their USA headquarters that are always supportive and yet provided them with the full autonomy to develop their markets. He remarks, "The wealth and depth of experience in our Hurco SEA team, including two founding members, provided valuable technical knowledge to support our growth across product lines and regions. This incredible knowledge base and commitment from the team coupled with our track record in developing new markets have inspired and encouraged me to put my best forward to achieve greater success with this team."
Wai Yip remembers how 14 years ago he started with zero knowledge on CNC machines. He narrates, "Without an engineering background, I am very blessed to have a team of experienced individuals who are extremely committed to their work and provided me with their sound technical advice along the years. Getting the best out of each individual and creating synergies in the the team has been the most rewarding experience I had. The competency in the Hurco SEA team has allowed me to focus my energy fully on charting our brand and market growth strategies."
VISION OF THE FUTURE
Wai Yip outlines his vision of the future with confidence. "My vision when I assumed the role of General Manager was to build our brand and company as a reliable, innovative, and trusted technology partner to our users, and to expand Hurco's presence in SEA and rest of Asia Pacific," he comments.
"We have always been known in our foundation years for our user-friendly controller and intuitive conversational programming. These advantages have in turned confined our focus to small job shops and entry-level CNC machines. As a machine tool company with our proprietary and advanced controller, I believe that we could expand our presence to a wider user base across various industries and markets," Wai Yip notes.
Hurco SEA started to promote actively their 5-axis technology in 2014 with its first dedicated 5-axis machining open house in Singapore to display advanced 5-axis controller with industry leading control features. He informs, "I am pleased that this relentless campaign to promote 5-axis technology in the past six years has paid off, as we see a steady growth in the sales of Hurco 5-axis machines across the region. With an expanded product range and stronger branding, we were able to expand our installed base beyond general manufacturing to various industries like Aerospace, Automation, Defence, Electronics, Medical, Oil & Gas, and Semi-conductor."
Wai Yip believes that they can accomplish more should they continue to focus on strengthening the company's core competencies and improve their coverage and support to end-users in the region.
Hurco Tagline, "Mind over Metal," have set the foundation for its group and organisation. Hurco was founded as a technology company and the emphasis on its innovative controller and software have never been stronger.
"As a machine tool company with our proprietary CNC controller, we embrace the fact that we are 'different' from other makers. We endeavour to use our proprietary control technology to assist our customers to be more productive and profitable," he underlines
Wai Yip and his team take pride in listening to their customer's machining needs and providing a customised solution to solve their problems.
He emphasises, "Our showroom and technical centres are always opened to our customers and new users (with Safe Management Measures in-placed), and our engineers on standby to assist them with demanding new projects. We hope that regular technical exchanges with end-users' not only help solve their machining issues but also continually build our teams' knowledge and understanding of end-user dynamic machining needs."
Hurco SEA aims to position themselves further as a technology partner for end-users, which seeks to transform their machining business.
Wai Yip details, "Our expanded product range includes Procobots: Job Shop Automation for high-mix manufacturing which provides a practical solution to job shops looking at modernising their machining operations through automation. Hurco customers will be pleased to know that programming of the Procobot and scheduling of the various CNC programs are completed through the Automation Manager software incorporated within the Winmax Controller that they are familiar with."
He also cites an expanded machine product line-up catering to various application needs, and new software features such as 3D Solid Model Import and 3D DXF, Enhanced Graphic Verifications and Simulation that focuses on user friendly CNC Operations to upskill new machinist for the digital economy.
Wai Yip is pleased to tell that in order to assist machine shops in automating their machining operations, he undertook the task to be personally qualified as a Practising Management Consultant (under Singapore Business Advisors & Consultants Council) in April 2021. In this way, he can advise machine shop business owners of the various government grants available to assist them financially in transforming their business.
Hurco SEA will continue to expand its presence in SEA with new regional technical centres and increased resident engineers to support the respective domestic SEA markets, which has become imperative with the travel restrictions.
"I envision that the next five years would be the next key milestone for Hurco SEA where we hope to establish ourselves as a reliable technology partner to your machining needs in all parts of SEA, Australia and New Zealand, Korea, Japan and Taiwan," he finally closes.
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