An attention for detail; an eye for design; and an ever inquisitive mind. Yee Seng Tan has been enthralled with development since a young age when Lego and scaled models filled his time. Today, he drives many of Tan & Tan Developments’ significant projects as its Director, working to bring to life concepts for today’s modern family. As its parent company, IGB Corporation, celebrates its 50th Anniversary, Yee Seng shares with us the journey that has led to Tan & Tan Developments becoming a name synonymous with innovation and quality.
My grandfather grew up in a time that was in stark contrast to the world we live in. Listening to his stories, I sometimes find it incredulous that so much has changed in just two generations. While I grew up in a time when “globalisation” was the word of the moment and the world was on the cusp of entering the digital age, my grandfather’s youth was shaped by the Great Depression, World War II, and Malaysia’s independence. His experiences undoubtedly shaped his outlook and work ethic which were grounded in values such as honesty, hard work, sincerity, and the continuous pursuit of knowledge. When he became a father and later a grandfather, he was adamant that these values be instilled in his children and grandchildren. Today, it is those values that continue to shape how we do business.
As we have been celebrating IGB’s 50th Anniversary this year, I can’t help but pause and reflect on these stories and the journey that has brought us to where we are today.
Ipoh Garden and Tan & Tan Developments were founded in 1964 and 1971 respectively by my grandfather, Tan Chin Nam, and his brother, Tan Kim Yeow, who at the time, seemingly had the world at their feet. They had weathered the Great Depression, survived World War II, and it seemed like anything was possible. Ipoh Garden was established in order to purchase 200 acres of land in Ipoh, while Tan & Tan Developments was established to purchase two pieces of land on either side of Jalan Tun Razak that my grandfather had heard about during a game of mahjong. Those pieces of land would later be developed into Desa Kudalari, Malaysia’s first condominium; MiCasa, the first development in Malaysia to combine serviced apartments with hotel facilities; and Desa Angkasa, a low rise condominium which sought to fill a niche in the market for well to do Malaysians, foreigners, and diplomats. These developments would go on to firmly establish Tan & Tan Developments in the Malaysian market and earn it a reputation for being both innovative and a market leader.
Success Built On People
Today, Tan & Tan Development sits within the enlarged IGB Corporation as a result of a merger between Tan & Tan Developments and IGB (previously Ipoh Garden), which was completed in 2002. Through the years, we have built an array of quality developments here at home, including such projects as Sucasa; Sierramas, Malaysia’s first private residential estate; Hampshire Park; U-Thant Residences; and more recently Seri Ampang Hilir,G Residence, and Garden Manor in Sierramas, amongst others. As we’ve built up our portfolio, we have remained committed to contributing to the ever evolving landscape here in Malaysia, building homes that not only make sense for the people but add value to the communities around them.
As we look to the future, I can’t help but remember something my grandfather once said to me. “Business is about people, it is about relationships and teamwork.” The longer I have worked, the better I have come to understand what he meant. No matter how brilliant a business plan or how game-changing a new product is, it is the people who determine its success. Tan & Tan Developments has been fortunate to have an extremely talented team of people, many who have worked with us for a long time and have become family. We’ve also had the opportunity to work with some of the industry’s most forward-thinking and innovative consultants and business partners who have not only helped us bring to life our ideas but continuously challenge us so that we continue to push traditionally accepted boundaries. I believe the strong relationships that we have developed are testament to the inclusive culture that my grandfather established, which continues to thrive today.
Staying Relevant Today & For Tomorrow
There is a saying that wealth does not go beyond three generations. Though the third generation in many family businesses often lacks the same drive and hunger as the two generations before, I believe that if you are aware of this and if you’re in a business that you genuinely love, this does not always have to be the case.
In our family, we have been lucky as our business is quite diverse. Many members of the third generation have therefore had the opportunity to choose roles that they enjoy and feel passionate about, whether that be in leasing, investments, property development, hospitality, marketing, or retail management. As a result, today in IGB and Tan & Tan Developments, many from my generation have not only taken up roles in the business but have actively played a role in driving it forward. It’s my belief, therefore, that we can go a long way to realising ever greater achievements.
Malaysia has changed a great deal in just two generations. Looking at how Kuala Lumpur’s cityscape has emerged is just one example of how far we have come as a nation. The landscape in which we operate differs greatly from those of my grandfather’s days. Malaysians today are demanding greater quality, showing a greater consciousness for sustainable solutions, and are willing to live in smaller spaces as long as they are safe and secure as well as close to amenities, recreational areas, and public transportation.
To succeed as a developer in these times, you need to have a constant ear to the ground. It is no longer enough to just build what people want, but to anticipate the next trend so as to stay ahead of the competition. Moving forward, whilst we remain true to our roots and keep people at the heart of what we do, we will work hard to keep abreast of emerging trends, grow the company, and bring our focus back to creating and managing communities.
Tan & Tan Developments has some exciting projects that we’ll be looking to bring to market in the next few years. Notably, to meet the increasing demand for larger homes with quiet recreational spaces for the family, we are working on a hillslope development at Melawati that will not only provide families with security but with green open spaces for all to enjoy. We have also started a project in London, in the Southbank area, that will see the construction of a mixed use development, consisting of residential, office, retail, and hospitality spaces. More immediately, however, and back at home, we will be launching Stonor 3, which I believe is a great development that will see positive demand. Not only is its location extremely central – a short distance from KLCC Park, the Twin Towers, and just off Jalan Tun Razak – it offers residents a tranquil home environment right in the heart of KLCC, ensuring that families are close to some of the best food, retail, and recreational facilities that Kuala Lumpur has to offer.
Exciting times lie ahead for Malaysia, and Tan & Tan Developments is extremely proud to be a part of its continued growth. As we jointly celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our parent company, IGB Corporation, we want to take lessons from our past while looking to the future, evolving our business while continuing to do what we do best – developing homes that not only make sense for the people of today but add value to communities and to Malaysia as a whole.