The Singapore Building Materials Suppliers’ Association was founded in 1929 by several senior members of the association to connect with each other and exchange business information. As most of the building materials operated by its members at that time were timber, it was originally named “Timber Suppliers’ Association”.
At the beginning of its establishment, the office was set up in Fu Chun Lin Fang Gallery. Members often drank tea in the office, discussed market prices and so on, and would gather to connect with each other on festive occasions. According to the elders’ word of mouth, there were only a few member chambers of commerce at that time : Fu Chun Lin, Zhen Rong Xing, Ji Mao Xing, Zai Qing Xing, Jian Lian He, Sen Lin and Fu Chang Yuan.
Due to the booming business after the establishment of the association, the original club address, Fu Chun Lin Fang Gallery, is not enough for the business.
After discussion , members rented 241C Victoria Street, Xiao Po 2nd road, as a new club location in 1941. Mr. Sun Bing Yan was unanimously elected as the first president of The Association. Under his leadership, our association began to revise its constitution and develop its business. When the meeting was thriving, the Japanese army invaded the south like a nightmare hit, with immediate beacon fires everywhere, people living in poverty, our association was forced to suspend all meeting activities.
In 1945, when The Japanese surrendered and Singapore recovered, all ruined industries were in the process of recovering. Under the organization of Chairman Sun, our association reconvened members and took the Forest Company as a temporary club to actively carry out the activities of the association and seize the business opportunities of the rapid demand for building materials due to the post-war economic recovery.
Our association vigorously recruited member companies. Due to the development of The Times, the kinds of building materials were changing and diversifying with each passing day, so the materials of our trade were no longer limited to wood, but expanded to iron bars, cement, grindstone tiles, bathroom equipment, acoustic panels, etc.
In 1965, The Association changed its name from “Singapore Timber Merchants Association” to “Singapore Building Materials Suppliers’ Association” to catch the new trend and expand the scope of membership. In the same year, The Association raised money to purchase a flat at 409C Jalan Besar Road for the new club location.
In 1967, our Association together with the Metal & Machinery Association, Ship-Chandlers Association, Hardware and Tools Association, Sanitary Ware Importers & Exporters Association and Rope, Hardware & Paint Merchants Association, collectively sent a letter to the Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, requesting the authorities to modify the “import stamping” and the result was successfully approved. That year, these six associations formed the “6 Trade Associations” group; up to now the “6 Trade Associations” elect rotating chairmen every year and held at least two symposia to exchange information and experience, which has lasted for more than half a century without interruption.
After the post-war reconstruction boom in Singapore, high-rise buildings mushroomed, resulting in a shortage of cement resources. Under the leadership of President Sun, our association asked for the import of cement from the government and distributed it to member companies for resale. After obtaining the approval of the authorities, the cement shortage was solved.
From 1976 to 1988, the membership of our association increased to 129 members with the active recruitment of our two presidents, Tong Zi Jian and Shen Bao He. As the business progressed, our association did not forget to give back to the society and devoted itself to public welfare undertakings. Our Association has actively participated in the National Defence Fund, activities of the Central Narcotics Control Bureau, the sponsorship for the performance of “Warming the World”, the fundraising activities for the Industrial Accident Relief Fund, and the launch of the fundraising campaign of “Chen Jia Geng Award and Scholarship” by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry”.
In 1979, our Association celebrated its 50th anniversary and published a Golden Jubilee magazine. In the same year, The Association was invited to participate in a symposium held by Nanyang Siang Pau to exchange views on relevant issues faced in the industry.
In 1985, The Association succesfully held the 55th anniversary celebration and published a commemorative magazine. At that time, the supply of fine sand was in short supply due to the massive construction of HDB flats by the government. At the same time, our Association is actively working with five other trade association to set up 6 Trade Association to promote the spirit of solidarity.
In order to break through the narrow limitation of Singapore market and enter the international market, our Association organized a trade delegation to attend the Italian tile and marble exhibition for the first time, and exchanged views with the Italian manufacturers. This trip also solved many problems about the shipment date and quality control of imported tiles from Italy.
In 1982, Hua Min Co. Ltd from China Fujian Province paid a visit to our association and the two sides had friendly exchanges. In April 1985, our association organized a business investigation group to visit China after the reform and opening for the first time. Our association also visited Minerals Corporation in Beijing, the Marble Processing factories in Tianjin and Shanghai, and sought for wider business contacts and trade opportunities for the same trade.
In 1989, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of The Association, the third commemorative special issue was published, and a grand celebratory dinner was held in the auditorium of Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry. The Guest-of-Honor was Dr. Lee Boon Yang, Minister of National Development and Advisor for The Association. The late Chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Yin Hua Lin, and many distinguished guests and business leaders from home and abroad were among the guests.
In 1992, our association sold off the Old Jalan Besar club for $150,000, and with the efforts and support of all the directors and members, raised $320,000 to purchase the current Pao Ma Pu Club on the second floor, providing a better platform for the development of the club.
To promote the exchange and the co-operation with the local-related industries, our association joined hands with the 6 Trade Associations and other construction peers in 2005 to promote the enactment and implementation of the “Guarantee Payment” Law, which is to a large extent protects the legitimate rights and interests of small and medium-sized building materials businesses and the flow of capital. In 2006, our association initiated and joined Specialists Trade Alliance of Singapore, which has 11 trade associations, and took the association as a platform to strengthen communication and contact with the Construction Bureau and Human Resources Bureau and other institutions, to understand the regulations and information related to construction materials.
To find more business opportunities and in response to the appeal from the government for mid- small sized companies venturing into the ASEAN market . In 2015 our association and China-ASEAN business council signed the memorandum of co-operation. At the invitation of Executive Director Xu Ning Ning, our association has visited Nan Tong, Fo Shan, Gui Yang, Jia Xing, and other regions in China successively. Our Association had participated in the exchanges with 10 ASEAN countries’ representatives and local counterparts, looking for business opportunities and establishing extensive contacts.
In 2016, China-ASEAN Construction Industry Co-operation Committee was established in Nantong, our President Ng Soy Ng has been appointed as a member on behalf of the association.
In terms of the internal construction of the association, the association amended its articles of association in 2017, to set up an “associate member” system to encourage more relevant enterprises to join the association. To connect members and exchange industry information, we organize Chinese New Year Celebration, regular social gathering dinner and seminars and participated in activities organised by affiliated organisation such as Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, 6 Trade Associations, Specialists Trade Alliance of Singapore and Singapore Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association. These activities were actively participated by members.
At the beginning of 2018, after many discussions among all the directors, The Association decided to rent out the existing property, move the Association office to the Trade Association Hub in Jurong Town Hall, and join the shared secretariat set up by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, hoping to share resources and support each other by strengthening exchanges and connections with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry and 30 other Trade Association. This significant decision is also in line with the government’s call for “transformation” of the trade syndicates, in an attempt to improve long-term business dynamics under the guidance of a new group of younger directors.
Looking back, all President and directors who started from the beginning till now have selflessly dedicated their efforts and energies into our association. Hereby, we would like to express our greatest respect to Sun Bing Yan, Sheng Kong, Lin Yu Quan, Tong Zi Jian, Lin Yu Feng, Shen Bao He, Ong Mah Tiong, and Ng Soy Ng (who has been working as our President for 25 years), Honorary President Tan Tock Han (who has been working as the Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry director) on behalf of our association, as well as the current Honorary President Koh Soo Chem and Khoo Tuan Keng, honorary directors, directors and members of the association who have been supporting us for decades.
In 2019, the 90th anniversary of the founding of the association, all the directors made concerted efforts to prepare for the 90th anniversary celebration; on 10 May, we hosted a golf tournament and banquet for more than 100 people at Orchid Country Club to kick off the celebration.
On 1 November, a banquet of 500 guests was held in Shangri-La Hotel. Guests and business leaders from home and abroad were invited to participate in the banquet. Huang Xun Cai, Minister of National Development of China was invited as the Guest-of-Honor. In addition, The Association also published a 90th anniversary magazine, published a special article to introduce the future construction and development of our country, and also included the half a century history for 6 Trade Associations, as well as the footprints left on this long road.
In the memory of the successor, but also for reference, and looking forward to the new greater transcendence and breakthrough, so that this century-old tree continues to sprout, blossom and bear fruit.
ASEAN-China Business Council also appointed President Ng Soy Ng as a member of RCEP Industrial Co-operation Committee in April 2021.