When asked what is the most important lesson he’s learned over his 30 years in business, Alan Li doesn’t hesitate before answering. “Care about everybody,” he enthuses. “They work for you every day, so try to understand them, and show them you care.” Couple that mentality with advice from one of the brightest minds of our century, and you’re on track for success. “I very much agree with Steve Jobs – ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish.” Alan says, “Think outside the box, and when you do business, don’t look back.”
It’s an approach that has set Alan and his company in good stead. From a team of four in 2011 when he founded Goldwave Steel Structure Engineering, today there are over 800 employees working across Hong Kong and China. With decades of experience in the world of engineering already under his belt, Alan decided to utilise his extensive knowledge and create a steel structure engineering company that could “make it lighter, and make it quicker” than his competitors.
How, you wonder? By ensuring, everything was done by his team. “I wanted us to be a one-stop solution – that means we design, fabricate and complete the erection, all under our control, all under Goldwave,” he explains. “When the client comes to me, I can give them a solution with confidence and without delay because of our in-house solutions. We can control the quality of the product and the productivity. We are also able to tell our client 100 per cent when we will finish.”
This, Alan says, is what truly sets Goldwave apart – because “our service means we care about your project. The steel may be very cold, but you feel warm about our company,” he laughs.
In addition, Goldwave goes above and beyond when it comes to facilitating research in order to ensure the best possible product. “Other companies won’t knock on the door of the professor and ask them to do research,” Alan says. “We seek information because we anticipate the future. We’re always thinking of how the company will continue to develop, and how we can do a better job not only for our clients but also for society in general. This research benefits everyone, not only our company.”
And, as Alan reminds us, the end goal is always to encourage return customers. “What we want is for you to come back again. We don’t have thousands of clients, but they always come back with bigger job opportunities. We enjoy the process of building a long-lasting relationship with our clients.”
“We’re always thinking of how the company will continue to develop, and how we can do a better job not only for our clients but also for society in general.”
The same principle applies to the suppliers that Goldwave collaborates with. Once Alan finds a company that shares the same values, and is established as reliable and trustworthy, he nurtures the relationship with the aim that it will continue to grow over the years.
“We need to find the most reliable subcontractors. Reliability is everything,” he explains. “It is not dependent on attractive prices – it’s more important that we know they’ll meet our expectations because we have a responsibility to our client.
Looking to the next few years, Alan believes that the most significant development for Goldwave will be a focus on modularisation, as well as continuing to tailor its offerings to suit the needs of clients. “ We need to do more in the realm of industrialisation, to do less work onsite,” Alan says. “The entire world is thinking about it. And then there is digital construction. With our expertise in-house, we will develop more outside of the typical steel construction methods. We have to think from time to time, ‘What is going to happen? What are we going to do?’ The world is constantly changing. We cannot say, ‘Let’s just sit here and wait.’ We have to think ahead.”
Indeed, it’s this ability to adapt, adjust and evolve that has cemented Goldwave’s reputation as one of the best in the industry, and will continue to set them up for future success. “Clients are not like the clients from 10 years ago,” Alan emphasises. “Ten years ago when you delivered a good product within budget, on time, they were happy.
“But now clients are looking for digital construction and building information management, as well as net-zero carbon emissions and pre-fabrication for building,” he says. “They want innovative solutions with new building materials that minimise material usage and decrease energy consumption to improve building efficiency and indoor climate. Sustainable development of MIC high-rise building construction and utilisation of high-grade steel are emerging as important worldwide in the industry.”