Chang Cheng shows off the fruits of their long-time partnership with NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i)
On 12 March, NTUC’s e2i paid a visit to Chang Cheng HQ for updates on the company’s success with e2i’s various programmes. Gilbert Tan, CEO of e2i, was welcomed by the Chang Cheng’s founder, Kok Kuan Hwa, and his brother, Kok Kuan Yen.
From beginning as a single economic mixed vegetable rice stall in 1994, the brothers have expanded locally and across the border to include three central kitchens in Singapore, Johor Bahru and Penang. The central kitchens allow for greater control over the quality of their products that are sold at 90 Chang Cheng Chinese Veg Rice Stalls, 24 Rong Kee Roasted Delights Stalls, 28 Chang Cheng Mee Wah Coffeeshops and 18 Ming Kitchen Seafood outlets.
In 2013, they opened Chang Cheng HQ, which acted as a one-stop hub for corporate matters and food production. With its launch, the company also ventured into B2B food manufacturing, daily meals provisioning in the form of bento sets and catering. During the pandemic, they were one of the official caterers who provided meals to foreign workers in the dormitories.
It was what Mr Tan got a little teaser of as he toured the 30,000 square feet central kitchens on the third and second floor of the headquarters. Joining an assembly line, he scooped curry into bento boxes that are cleaned before they’re fed into a thermoformer where it gets vacuum sealed.
Tan also got a look at two latest purchases supported by e2i’s Inclusive Growth and WorkPro Job Redesign programmes: the shiny new Induction Kitchen Cookers that fire up quicker than gas stoves and Walk-in Blast Chillers and Freezers that cool food so quickly it minimises the loss from evaporation. Both machines will increase productivity and, in return, allow Chang Cheng to focus on other facets of food manufacturing such as handmade dim sum and R&D. More than 56 low wage workers and 15 mature employees were given additional training to learn how to use the equipment and received a pay raise as a result.
The company has also worked with e2i to search for manpower as the workforce thinned out due to foreigners leaving Singapore to return to their families. Taking part in job fairs organised by e2i, Chang Cheng has hired 162 full-time and 58 part-time employees to take up various positions from central kitchen to coffeeshop staff. With the continued partnership, the Kok brothers hope to further expand into the B2B food manufacturing business as well as offer their resources for corporate R&D.
After, Mr Tan and the Chang Cheng team were invited to a whisky tasting by Etc Services that was paired with their signature roast meats and finger food. Going through a flight of whiskies from Yamazaki to peated Laphroaig, the group concluded the factory tour with the clinking of glasses and cheers to a better future.