Kok Chong Dat (K.C.Dat), a mover from Kuala
Lumpur, headed south to start a new company in Singapore with his business
partner, Michael Lee, on July 11, 1963. Little did he know at the time, but
from humble beginnings, the company become one of Asia’s most successful moving
companies. K.C.Dat was a pioneer, an innovator, and an inspiration to others
across the globe. His company’s success was due in large part to the energy,
enthusiasm, and expertise of some extraordinary people—most notably, Eric Lim.
In 1969, K.C.Dat was sold to Harper Gilfillan
Plc., a major trading company based in the UK. Eric Lim joined the company in
1975, about the time that the company was sold again to a consortium of some of
the industry’s most recognized characters, led by Jean Jacques-Borgstedt,
Martin Santini, and others.
Eric was a salesman for the company under the
stewardship of Geoff Eyer as Managing Director. Geoff was an inspirational
leader, and Eric and the other 20 or so employees were happy to work hard doing
whatever was needed to achieve success. Then came a twist of fate—Geoff, the
company’s driving force, had to return to the United States due to ill health in
1983. His departure left an opportunity for Eric, who had invested his profit-sharing
bonuses to become a minority shareholder in the business, to become the General
Manager. That was arguably the moment when the K.C.Dat we know was born.
A further change of ownership in 1990 saw Eric
mortgaging his house to raise funds to buy back the shares. Soon, Eric managed
to become the single biggest shareholder and in 2002 he gained a controlling
interest. It took him 27 years, but at last Eric had bought the company he
loved and had worked so hard to build into a success.
Eric was one of the first to recognize the
opportunity of relocation when the rest of the moving industry turned a blind
eye, hoping it would go away. He enlisted the support of companies of similar
mind to K.C.Dat; the same firms that eventually were to provide the nucleus of
Asian Tigers. The concept worked so well that it was copied in Latin America
when international movers there created Latin American Relocation Management (LARM).
LARM eventually was sold to Prudential Relocation (Scottsdale, Arizona, USA).
Eric was the inspiration behind Asian Tigers
and help to build it into one of the driving forces in the moving industry.
Over the years, Eric has also served in various industry organizations. He has been
a board member of CETI, the Overseas Moving Network International (OMNI), Federation
des Demenageurs Internationalaux (FIDI), and Unigroup Worldwide. He was area
director for AMC, Pan American International Movers Association (PAIMA), Latin
American & Caribbean International Movers Association (LACMA), and FIDI
Asia. In 2006 he became the first Asian President of FIDI.
K.C.Dat now has offices in Myanmar, Hong Kong,
Taiwan, Japan and Singapore. Besides the moving business, the K.C.Dat Company
handles general freight and project cargo. The company is also the leading
office mover in Singapore. The fine art business is managed under Lotus Fine
Art and the relocation business under Silk Relocation Ltd.
The company we see today is a far cry from the
old days of working from a small rented office and a single-story warehouse in
Jalan Terusan. Today, the company operates in a six-story office and a three-story
warehouse. Under Eric’s leadership, the company has matured into a true world
player and has adapted to meet the needs of a changing industry. The management
of K.C.Dat has rarely been short of good ideas and the company continuously
gains in strength.
The world is changing every minute, and if you
don’t change it will pass you by. At 71 years old, and despite taking a back
seat in the day-to-day running of the company, Eric has no plan to let anything
pass him by. Succession in the business is secure with Eric’s younger brother
John Lim as the Managing Director and a dedicated and experienced team in place.
There is also plenty of young talent waiting in the wings, including Eric’s
daughter Erika of whom he is immensely proud. After 50 years of success, the
future looks rosy for Eric and K.C.Dat.