In this interview, Alec Chye the founder of Lirex Sdn Bhd shares how he was able to transform his painting company, iPainter, from a home-based business with only 4 workers to owning an office, a showroom and a warehouse by paying attention to his business goal. iPainter now runs successfully and they have done numerous painting jobs in the Klang Valley area and Johor Bahru too.
Alec started working immediately as a salesperson after he finished SPM. He then joined a factory producing household and industrial detergents. Coincidentally, his friend who worked in a renovation line invited him to do the business together. He tells WargaBiz that he saw the opportunity in doing painting and he knew there’s plenty of more room to innovate in the paint industry.
iPainter: Painting a big picture
iPainter was born from a radically simple concept. After spending a few years in renovation line, he noticed that people normally painted their house in one colour or two colour. Alec was thinking ways to feature more colours to add life and vibrancy to the house.
“Malaysian love colour. This idea presented an opportunity for me to introduce a new trend which is feature walls. Back in 2010, the availability of the feature wall was limited. However, when texture painting or pattern painting arrived on the scene, it gained some interest among customers. So we created the interest among customers with our feature wall idea,” he says.
iPainter can paint a house in just one day
From doing 4 walls in 1 week, iPainter slowly growing in catering 10 walls per week and now they can do up to 15 walls per day. It wasn’t an easy progress and it took time and effort to promote and educate customers that it’s not a painting, not wallpaper.
With the intention of getting people to know more about iPainter, Alec together with the team promoted a new campaign where they can paint a house in just one day. It was a unique idea in the painting industry and also an excellent idea to market the business.
“We promoted WOW 1 Day where we can finish the painting job in a day. That’s our promise to clients. We want to show that we are a brand focused on professionalism and exceptional customer service.”
iPainter champions in transforming a wall to make it really stand out. They can do any concepts according to the clients’ needs – from modern style, cosy style to minimalist. Driven by over 60 applicators that work there, they can cater the whole Klang Valley area and Johor Bahru too.
Moving forward, Alec says the company has grown its service line into adding a new business segment to complement its paint business. Previously, they only focused on painting and now they are adding wainscoting business under it.
The business has achieved remarkable progress under Alec’s leadership. One of his proudest achievements is how he has managed to grow the business from a home-based business into having a proper office with a nice showroom and a warehouse. As he explains, the team members have also expanded and he is forever in debt for having loyal workers who work for him since the beginning.
Sharing some of the prominent brands and customers he had served before, Alec said iPainter had done feature wall for Grab, Tealive outlets, McDonald’s outlets, Starbucks outlets and Lazada office to name a few.
Tackling online business
In addition, Alec has the ambition to open a few more branches across Malaysia. However, when the pandemic strikes in, he notices that online business is a new era and they can cater to a larger group of customers via online. He believes that it will be easier for customers to select their preferred feature wall as in colour and concept with just one click. Customers can purchase paints via online and they will send down their professional applicators to get the work done.
Alec is also excited with the new idea to add more business segment. “Our next project is iPainter Concept – where we’ll have our in-house furniture that will go well with any feature wall concept that you choose. So, if customers would like to change the interior concept, they’ll just need to change the colour or the concept of the wall, not the furniture and it saves money in the long run.
Giving credit where credit’s due
His big focus is to go IPO. “It’s not for me but for my team members who have been with me for more than a decade. The commitment and support they had given to me throughout the year are incalculable. It’s all about forming a strong bond with my whole team and show them that they are valuable assets in the company.”
Alec points out the most important element one should have to be a successful entrepreneur is to focus. “It’s important to have a clear goal and don’t give up easily. You need to take care of your staff and try to establish a good relationship with them and understand them. Remember to focus, focus and focus,” he ends.