S03E012: Michelle Sin and Melissa Sin, SKB Shutters Corporation Berhad, Malaysia

Two years back, we had quite a huge incident happen in our factory. And it was something that we really couldn’t share with our team because we did not want to get them worried. So it was really a burden on our shoulders, it was just us and our family [who knew]. This incident went on for almost a month and a half and every day we were really stressed out. We couldn’t sleep… but then I just felt that I’m so blessed to have my sister because if it weren’t for her, I would have felt very challenged and alone. 

Melissa Sin
melissa sin skb shutters malaysia
Executive Director of SKB Shutters Corporation Berhad, Melissa Sin salutes her dad, the inventor!

In this week’s episode, I am speaking to Michelle and Melissa Sin of SKB Shutters Corporation Berhad from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

This was also the first time that I interviewed siblings! We had a lot of lively banter in this episode and a lot of insights into what it means to be in a family business that your parents are still actively part of! 

For 64 years now, SKB Shutters Corporation Berhad has been leading the industry in providing roller shutters and steel doors locally and internationally. It is also a manufacturing company that is now helmed by Michelle and Melissa Sin, the third generation. 

Their grandfather Mr Sin Kean Boon, from which SKB derives its name, started in 1957. The business had its roots in Penang but since Michelle and Melissa’s father took over, they relocated to Kuala Lumpur as urbanisation in the 80s saw a growing need for their steel products. Today, their corporate office and manufacturing plant is at Kota Damansara, Kuala Lumpur. 

michelle sin skb shutters malaysia
As a Director of SKB Shutters Corporation Berhad, Michelle Sin manages the operations side.

Both had worked for KPMG before joining their parents in the manufacturing business. At SKB, Melissa heads sales and marketing while Michelle manages the operations. 

Michelle and Melissa are also different in personalities and in this conversation, you will hear how being family can be an advantage when it comes to running a business. They suffered the boss’ daughter syndrome when they first joined the business besides employees getting them mixed up! And guess what? Their parents are still actively involved in the business until today. 

One of the best investments I think for myself was really downtime. The kind of downtime that I’ve never gotten when there was no COVID. And during then this downtime, I did a lot of reflection. I underestimated how much personal reflection actually impacts the way you live your life, the way you want to approach work, the way you present yourself to people. 

Michelle Sin

Being women in a construction-related industry, they’ve had their fair share of comments and naysayers. 

Michelle says she is inspired by her parents because of their perseverance in their entrepreneurial journey while Melissa salutes her dad as she calls him the inventor. “He is determined, never giving up on his ideas and always calm when it comes to big challenges,” says Melissa.

Michelle enjoyed reading Super Soul Sundays by Oprah Winfrey and Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger.

The ever expressive Melissa said she likes thrillers and crime with favourites being Gone Girl. “Another book that I can read over and over again is Working Stiff by Judy Melinek who is a medical examiner who writes about the different cases of autopsy that she works on and it was fascinating to read. It encourages you to be open to different perspectives and angles of an issue, or a situation,” says Melissa.

Melissa says she particularly like this quote from one of Oprah Winfrey’s books: “Confidence is when you believe in yourself and your abilities, arrogance is when you think you are better than others and act accordingly.”

They were most proud of the innovation that came out of the last two sessions of lockdowns. Melissa said that during the first MCO, “our team worked really closely in coming out with a sanitisation unit prototype for a local authority on request within 14 days.”

In the second MCO, she said that SKB embarked on an R&D project for a reverse-gravity powerless operation mechanism for roller shutters. “The prototype is now finalised and undergoing a functionality test. This will be the world’s first innovation of such and we have patented it over the MCO,” says Melissa.

Being a woman in this industry, in a manufacturing construction business. You get a lot of buyers with scepticism. When you walk down to the site and people just think, what are you doing here? Do you really know anything? And that’s so common. I get that. Especially when I first joined the business. 

Melissa Sin

In this episode, Michelle and Melissa talk about: 

  • What keeps this family business charging forward despite the uncertainties and changes in the business environmentIf they were music, what kinds of music they would be
  • How their 5-year age difference doesn’t seem to matter now that they’re in the business together
  • Their favourite books and why they each prefer a certain genre
  • How fear can be a great motivator and demotivator
  • What their most worthwhile investment was in the past 2 years 
  • The guilt that Michelle feels because she is a working mother and what Melissa says about that 
  • The unique advantages of being family in a business (and the drawbacks) 

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