Singapore’s Outstanding Enterprise 2011

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible!” these are the words of Saint Francis of Assisi. Impossible is nothing, as long as one is substantially hardworking to do what’s needed, and not be overly ambitious. Class Pte Ltd; abbreviated for Called into Liberty to Achieve Success through Serving, a name which signifies the company’s forte in serving the masses. Class proffers soft furnishing touches, focusing on window fashions and customized upholstery. The company vouches on providing both private and corporate clients with an idiosyncratic fabrication, which exposits classiness.

At fore of all Class’s operations is Miss Lilian Ong, the rise of Class is imbued by Miss Ong’s fervent passion for soft furnishing; something which she realized she has during her vocation as a sales manager with a property agency. Nevertheless, it was an incidental opportunity; the business was initiated as Miss Ong was led to the idea when she chanced upon some friends. “When the opportunity presented itself, I prayed about it, trusted my God to lead and guide me because I have no experience in any business at all!” Miss Ong reminisced with enthusiasm.

Similar to many businesses at its initiation, Class relied on its circle of friends when it first started. “I am very thankful that they were very supportive.” Miss Ong thanked with gratitude. “Our first delivery wasn’t quite successful. To rub it in, it was my friend’s mother who pointed out to us about the details in the workmanship. It was an experience I will never forget. Fortunately, she was my friend and hence forgiving. This did not demoralized us but motivated us to improve ourselves.” Miss Ong revealed.

Every business is fraught with problems at its inception, without doubt. The same applies for Class. “The cooperate requirement was easy to understand as it was mostly captured online. We still required some friends’ help regarding the accounts though.” Miss Ong added. “Even though it was easy to understand, it was challenging to do and sustain, especially during the start when it was mainly a one person show. The tough nut is our suppliers and associates.” Miss Ong began elucidating on the hitches encountered: “As a startup, we were under the mercy of our service providers. The initial misses made me realize that we had a lot of shortfall and a long way to go. A lot of soul searching and research ensued, we moved forward quickly.” Miss Ong also rejoined: “We know that our service provider were not compelled to change or help us, but we were determined to overcome this.”

“We worked very closely with them, lots of dialogues, alongside exchange of ideas and research. It was not easy, but we worked with them tirelessly and diplomatically.” Miss Ong disclosed how Class managed to obliterate the stumbling blocks. “It was tough and stressful, but over time, our persistence and effort paid off.” As a result, Class managed to ameliorate on its product quality, the comprehension of the business also increased in all aspects. “We realized that building relationships is very important in business. It also made us realize that we need each other to survive in business.” Miss Ong mentioned.

What makes Class so prominent is the attention to every intricacy made by its personnel. Class focuses in understanding and providing innovative solutions for clients’ furnishing needs in four main areas: Safety, Quality, Aesthetic and Function. “We focus on building long-lasting relationships. We take time to listen and understand their lifestyle and also put in extra effort to visit and assess the conditions of the living space before we propose solutions to meet their furnishing needs.” Miss Ong indicated. “We also have stringent policies in the selection of fabrics and upholstery materials which are environmentally friendly and for health reasons of our customers. We have a wide collection of Oeko-Tex certified fabrics which are suitable for clients with sensitive skin.”
Nothing gets overlooked from the eyes of Class. Class does not compromise on the quality of its products and services. Class will often resort to using fire retardant or water repellant fabrics for clients with children for the ease of maintenance and safety. “We looked beyond what the customer wants, and this is why we invest time and resources to train our people.” Miss Ong explicated assertively.

“Apart from all the positive feedbacks from our customers, to receive this award was a surprise. To be awarded was unthinkable. It meant to everyone in Class that nothing is impossible as long as you stay focus, relentless, have a positive attitude and do not view problems and challenges as adversity but opportunities to improve yourself.” Miss Ong gave an invigorating reflection on Class’s accomplishments through the years.

“Entrepreneurship is all about empowering ideas. It’s more than just dreaming and thinking. It is stepping out in faith to make it happen.” Miss Ong divulged. “It’s about focusing on the positive rather than worry about the negative even when the odds are against you. I was out of the workforce for 7 years to take care of my children. To start a business at ground zero is worrying. Conventional wisdom suggests that I should get some experience first, or simply steer clear but I decided to make it happen. The decision was made easier as I am already passionate about furnishing. As entrepreneurs, we must see problems and challenges as speed bumps and not insurmountable barriers. It will probably slow us down a bit, but it will not stop us. Each hump makes us wiser to overcome the next one.”

Miss Ong also lauded her prior boss, Miss Ivy Lee, as one of her motivator: “She is a very focus and determined lady. She exemplified a high level of commitment, dedication, professionalism and customer service. She is also very humble and go beyond her call of duty. Her success is a rags-to-riches story.” Miss Ong also commented: “My motivation comes from within as well. It is my faith and my belief in my God who is the source of my strength. The business is my ministry and through it, I am able to be a blessing to many people. I am able to find a need and meet it. This is also reflected in our company motto, understanding needs, providing solutions.” Miss Ong also advised on the qualities needed for success: “He or she must have the desire, commitment, dedication, determination and passion for the business. Otherwise, an entrepreneur will simply give up on the first headwind.”

“Know the difference between calculated risk versus being reckless. Greed and impatience can sometimes cloud our judgments. Be humble and never stop learning. When things don’t go your way, seize the opportunity to learn from it. Have faith, do not doubt yourself and be patient. You will reap your harvest. Most importantly, build relationships, make friends, and form your wisdom network. It will create new opportunities and allow for new insight, it will make the journey more enjoyable.” Miss Ong espoused young people wanting to start their business.

Miss Ong also ecstatically provided us some details of Class’s expansion plans: “In the coming years, we will focus on branding ourselves. I believe its time to acknowledge ourselves have more confidence, as we were insecure about ourselves, thus little effort was put into marketing. We are looking for a correct platform to let people know. We are also investing in technology to improve efficiency and finding ways to increase our online presence. Staff training and development will remain our core priority.” Miss Ong then made a revelation about looking into a new line of associated business: “We are looking into a new line of associated business for which is not convenient for me to disclose at this juncture.”

Impossible is nothing, so is success; even when the situation is appalling, success will prevail, as long as one starts by doing what’s necessary; and then do what’s possible. Class Pte Ltd is a prodigious example in this respect.

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CLASS ACENDO is a specialist in window fashion, customised upholstery & wallcovering. We offer a wide range of fabrics and design solutions for your home or office.