21 April 2020
As one of the largest bakeries in Singapore, Montreux Patisserie owes its success to a unique workplace philosophy that prioritises genuine relationships.
Montreux Patisserie (MP), a stalwart in the food industry, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. A small bakery in East Coast in 1995, the family business has expanded to a multi-storey factory with over 100 bakers and cooks. With Lee Chit Shung, the founder’s son, at the helm, the bakery has adopted a progressive work climate where nothing is impossible as long as one has the resolve and willingness to put in the effort.
Judy Goh Hsien Ju, office manager
From managing the storefront when the bakery still operated as a small cake shop to taking care of the entire office’s daily operations, she’s learnt in the 12 years at MP that it all boils down to treating others with care and sincerity. Always on the lookout for ways to improve efficiency, she learns from overseas factory tours and wants to learn how to use Photoshop to help with design work.
Ha Hock Heng, head pastry chef
One of the longest serving employees, he helped set up the family Siglap cake shop 21 years ago. Now overseeing 50 people in the pastry department, he regularly sends them for training overseas. He’s followed the Singapore team to IKA Culinary Olympics in 2016 but nothing excites him more than producing for big events such as Singapore Grand Prix and HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens.
Sumiati Bte Sutano, deputy purchasing manager
A stay-home mother, she joined the bakery 12 years ago looking for a job doing packaging. With encouragement from Lee, she took on an office role and now manages a team of her own. She professes that a highlight of the job was when she flew to Europe for the first time for a work trip to Germany, where she had a tour of the factory and attended a chocolate decoration workshop.
Simon Shen Ming Xiong, key account manager
Initially a pastry chef, Shen developed an interest in sales and made the switch eight years ago. Now in his 14th year at the company, he fondly remembers staying up till 1am with the pastry team to meet deadlines. “It was very tough, we all bonded. After that, I’d take a long holiday,” he adds. For now, he’s looking forward to grow the business overseas.
Part of MP’s success comes from the way Lee’s work ethos translates to how he navigates relationships with his suppliers, even if it means going above and beyond sometimes.
Derrick Koh, managing director of Packaging Hub
“Working with him [Lee] is very comfortable,” Koh shares. In the packaging business for 18 years, he’s spent the majority of those years working alongside Montreux Patisserie. It’s been pretty much a breeze in the park as Lee knows exactly how he wants his packaging boxes to look like.
“He has very specific requirements and has a style. It’s quick to tidy things up with him,” he adds. Apart from the occasional catch up over coffee, they meet at the appreciation activities Lee throws for his employees and suppliers that include dinners and, recently, movie night at the theatre.
Angela Ding, managing director of Angliss Singapore
In roughly a decade of working together, Ding and Lee have found that their common interests extend out of the office. From supplying dairy products to when Montreux Patisserie was a small neighbourhood bakery, the partnership now includes consulting with each other and lending a helping hand making purchases.
“When I’m overseas and see products at trade shows, I’ll send him a picture,” she says. They also donate and volunteer to charitable causes such as Angliss-led initiatives to give out Care Boxes filled with essentials to seniors living alone and organising celebrity chef-cooked meals for hospices.
Alexandre Henke, managing director of Martin Braun SEA
As a foreigner learning how business is done in Asia, he was taught the importance of maintaining relationships with the people you work with. He’s seen how Lee jumps to the aid of clients: “He piles up mooncakes every year because he wants to help his chefs meet their target for the [Lantern Festival] season. His office is always full of mooncakes!”
After 14 years of working together, they keep each other in the loop on emerging trends in the food industry and exchange ideas freely. “I never feel purely like a supplier and very quickly realised we could have a partnership,” he quips