The Straits Times: Tang Brothers Aim To Nurse Sick Buildings Back To Health

Wednesday March 12th, 2008 2008, In the News

Brothers: (from left) Jeffrey Tang and Keith Tang


Having found much success in running a hotel chain in NZ, siblings are back with new business to clean up buildings from the inside out.

ARRIVING in New Zealand nearly 15 years ago was a breath of fresh air in every sense for brothers Keith and Jeffrey Tang.

They had left behind a messy family tussle in Singapore.

Their uncles had just taken control of the then Dynasty Hotel family business from their father, Mr Tang Wee Cheng.

Shrugging off the family squabble, the Tang brothers and their father took their hefty cash proceeds and headed for greener – though unfamiliar – pastures elsewhere.

An opportunity had cropped up to develop three hotels in New Zealand.

Backed by their father, the brothers seized the moment, investing about $50 million to build a hotel chain under the Heritage brand. The chain now boasts more than 1,500 rooms in 10 hotels across New Zealand.

The funds came from their father’s sale of his 47.06 per cent stake in the family company that owned the hotel and a substantial stake in listed retailer C.K. Tang. The value of the family’s fully owned hotel portfolio in New Zealand has grown to more than $150 million.

Breathing better

NOW, Keith, 46, and Jeffrey, 43, have started a new business back here in Singapore, inspired by their great love for New Zealand’s clean and green environment.

They offer services to clean some of the unseen grimy dark corners of office complexes and other buildings.

Their services include the cleaning of ducts, energy-saving solutions and indoor air purification systems that kill germs.

These services can cost anything from $1,000 to several hundred thousands of dollars.

The advantages of maintaining a clean workplace environment, they say, include reduced medical leave and increased productivity levels from workers.

‘Many air-conditioning ducts have not been cleaned since they were built. We believe that everyone deserves to breathe better,’ says Jeffrey, the managing director of IEQ Global, which bills itself as an ‘indoor environmental specialist’.

‘Our interest stems from our keenness to understand how New Zealand is so clean,’ he says.

Back when the brothers were getting the Heritage hotel chain off the ground, they used to spend half their time in Auckland.

But now, they are based in Singapore as they launch the IEQ business in the Republic.

Jeffrey is asthmatic and is sure to have his inhaler with him when he is outdoors in Singapore. But that was not the case in New Zealand, where it was just not needed.

‘The air outside in New Zealand is cleaner than the air inside, as opposed to places such as Singapore.’

During consultations at buildings, IEQ has found some scary things in office ducts such as dead rodents and even nests with live birds, says W.P. Ong.

At one office building the firm surveyed, a 1977 copy of The Straits Times was found in one of the ducts. This shows that the ducts had not been cleaned for 30 years, says Jeffrey at an interview held at the company’s office in Jalan Kilang.

‘It’s startling that people do not understand what they are breathing in,’ he says.

‘Some buildings are quite sickly but obviously, it is something that people don’t want to talk about.’

Almost every building represents a potential customer, Mr Ong says. So far, the company’s customers include hotels, schools, military installations and petrochemical companies.

The market will continue to grow in line with efforts by the Government and the private sector to protect Singapore’s environment and its people, the brothers say. But first, IEQ needs to create greater awareness of its business.

Apart from giving free consultations to raise the company’s profile, it also participates in road shows, trade shows and talks.


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