Have you ever considered a career in the tiling industry? What? Tiles?
I hear a resounding NO, and like most other graduates and younger generation hitting the employment market, the construction business (unless your dad handed the business to you!) including the tiling industry is not even on your ‘to consider’ list of choice employment. In fact, you probably never even thought there was such an industry… until you renovate your house that is, even then you’d probably leave it to the contractors.
And that is exactly what inspired one man to make a change. When he embarked on this grand transformative mission of his to revolutionise an industry, Dato CC Ngei (CC)was labeled as mad and other industry players called him crazy! CC took a deep hard look at his business and the future of the industry and he knew that it was something he had to do in order to build a sustainable business. Feruni Ceramiche was born, a brand in an age old industry that is not known for putting people, passion and purpose at the forefront of the business. And that is exactly what FERUNI stands for.
As a values based organisation, FERUNI is driven by its 4 main purpose and powered by its 10 core values. One of its purposes is COMMUNITY, and Feruni connects with the community through various platforms including a half day tour of Feruni HQ. A tour hosted by the man himself and is a no holes barred knowledge sharing session by CC and the tour gives everyone a comprehensive and detailed look into the Feruni culture and the organisation. I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to be apart of the DMT ST group of which CC is also involved with, and even with his tight schedule CC freed up time on a Friday to specially cater for this group of entrepreneurs. As i had heard so much about CC and the Feruni culture, the opportunity to visit Feruni and spend quality time CC was not to be missed and with his permission, i rounded up as many of The PulsElites and headed to Feruni HQ.
While the tour itself is eye-opening enough, the story of how Feruni came to be, the sacrifices (huge financial too!!) made, the positivity of CC & The Ferunians, and the drive to build and contribute to the community is awe inspiring. I won’t dive into describing the Feruni HQ because words will not do it any justice. (Please do read the article links at the end of this post to get a glimpse of the Feruni HQ) From the Happiness Cafe with free coffee and snacks, to the Talent and Culture centres, to its mini stage where Freunians showcase their talents, the modern open office (yes CC sits in a nondescript corner) is itself an iconic feature on its own. It is only befitting to call Feruni the Google of the tiling industry.
It would be nearly impossible to try and translate everything i learned (and still learning) from CC in that few hours into a blog post, so here are some interesting points i captured.
I highly recommend you try and get a spot on one of the Feruni tours to experience Feruni and expand your knowledge.
1. Charity and the community
“Giving money, how much can you continue to give?” Lamented Dato CC.
Taking the teach a man to fish saying to the next level with The Feruni Tour, Feruni has had a greater impact on the community. It has allowed Dato CC and the Feruni positivity to directly touch the lives of over 5,000 people (myself included!), creating a ripple effect. Not only is there now a large number (all 5,000+ we hope!) of people equipped with new knowledge, they are also inspired to spread happiness and positivity and do their part in contributing to the betterment of the community.
2. Kopitiam Vs. Starbucks
Why is it people dont want to make make coffee in kopitiam but line up to get a job in Starbucks? Because its not cool to work in a typical kopitiam, in Starbucks you’re not a ‘kopi man’ but instead you are a BARISTA. The same applies to the tiling industry (and the construction industry as a while i suppose) which is what Dato CC and his team of Ferunians are setting out to change. With uber cool offices that rival google, to professional certifications and a culture that places people at the forefront, its definitely cool to be a Feruni tiler!
3. Profit Sharing
20% of feruni profits are shared with employees through the usual bonuses, all the unique benefits that Feruni has to offer and its culture and values activities and events.
4. Sales Driven
Now here’s what shocked me. Whilst Dato CC was taking us around Feruni’s showroom floor, curiously i asked CC on his incentive scheme and he told me that Feruni paid no sales incentive. Huh? What? How?. If that came as a shocker, here’s the kicker, the sales commission/incentive was removed midway when CC decided to invoke a transformative change in the organisation. Then i asked if Feruni lost people because of this and CC replied “of course we lost some people”. Understandable and it is for the greater good because the people who stayed, believed. CC emphasised that success in any organisation, is a collective effort. Sales have nothing to sell if the admin don’t process the paper work, goods sold don’t get delivered if the lorry drivers don’t deliver, then why should only sales be rewarded?
5. Earn & Trade
Here’s an interesting part of the Feruni culture and rewards. In the Feruni world, only Feruni dollars are accepted. It is physical notes that is traded in Feruni, and Ferunians earn it by participating in events, community projects, learning new skills/knowledge, sharing their skills/knowledge and book sharing on the Feruni talent stage. Ferunians can use the Feruni dollars to buy food and premium snacks in the happiness cafe and also buy things from a Feruni ‘store’. Among the things Ferunians can buy include unique items that CC acquires on his trips overseas.
6. Hiring talent
As some of you may be well aware, hiring right can save us a whole lot. It is imperative that we get the right people on the bus and put them in the right seat. This is where most organisations fail. Feruni has gotten this down to a science and nailed it in its hiring process. So, among the many things we will be adopting and trying to implement here in Pulse Group Asia, is Feruni’s hiring process. While having the right skills for the job is a necessity, emphasis is placed on values measurement, one’s life story, on sharing moments (who you spend time with), and strength finding. If i had to interpret this, is because our personality, character, and how we make decisions is shaped by our values and accumulated life experience. By understanding this, Feruni is able to hire people who believe in what Feruni stands for, people who are a proper culture fit, and be able to put them in the right roles so that they can excel and grow.
Now while there are many out there who still cannot fathom what Dato CC Ngei is doing and most entrepreneurs will never be able to step out of their comfort zones to make such a transformative change, you cannot turn a blind eye to Feruni’s impact in the industry and community. And for those who need numerical validation, Feruni’s RM160+ million revenue (i hope my facts are right) proves that putting people and community at the forefront of an organisation is the right way forward. And for having such a unique fun filled culture? Well, Feruni now has a medical graduate in its ranks.
Putting everything i have collectively learned down on paper to execute a change in how Pulse Group Asia operates as an organisation, our contributions to society, and strive to build a sustainable brand. Stay tuned!
“Be the change you wish to see in the world”