If Employees are Happy, Customers Will be happy

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YEANE Keet’s face beamed with joy when Denpoo was named one of the winners in a tender for the supply of gas stoves for poor people in the kerosene-to-gas conversion program. Her happiness was understandable as this was the first time PT Denpoo Mandiri Indonesia (DMI) had taken part in a government tender. “This is one of the CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities carried out by Denpoo. At the same time, this will also promote Denpoo among the broad community,” Yeane said.  

Denpoo’s success in the tender is just one of Yeane’s achievements. Over the last three years, Yeane, appointed marketing director of DMI in 2002, has seen Denpoo products develop significantly. According to the Indonesian Electronics Association, Denpoo washing machines are now the market leader.  

Yeane, born in Jakarta on Aug. 10, 1975, has seen Denpoo expand to the international market. In 2004, the company opened factories in China, from where it exports to various countries, such as Papua New Guinea, Australia, Myanmar, Madagascar, Mauritius and Fiji. 

Yeane said Denpoo’s success was inseparable from the lessons it learned during the 1997/98 Asian monetary crisis. “As a brand name, we must be trustworthy,” said Yeane.

DMI, she said, had received orders from a number of traditional and modern retailers then but, unfortunately, the rupiah’s exchange plunged. “Even though we had to sell our products at a loss, we continued to honor orders already placed,” she said.  

She said that because the company continued to honor placed orders, retailers trusted Denpoo better. During the monetary crisis, she added, other producers chose to cancel orders or revise prices already agreed upon.  

Building trust is indeed the key to the success of Denpoo, which was founded by 59-year-old Lim Tjen Hong 17 years ago. It is this value that Lim passed on to his eldest daughter. “Pak Lim always says that whatever we say will be heard not only by fellow humans but also by God. That’s why to enjoy other people’s trust, everything we say must be upheld,” she said.  

It is also this principle that Yeane adheres to when leading DMI. She said that although structurally her position was just marketing director, her responsibilities in the company covered every area. Her father is now no longer overly involved in the operational matters of the company. “He is involved only in highly strategic matters,” she noted.  

Although relatively young, Yeane does not feel awkward when dealing with staff members who are much older than her. Yeane even plays the role of a parent.atmosphere in this company is family-like,” she said. “In solving various problems, I frequently employ the personal approach,” she said.  

The door to her office is always open to her employees. Not infrequently does Yeane takes the initiative to approach her employees. In principle, Yeane would like all DMI employees to enjoy their jobs. “Employee satisfaction is most important to me,” she said. She also said that if employees were happy, customers would also be happy.  

A company, she said, can move forward if all the employees join hands. To this end, she said, every employee had to be knowledgeable about the intended course of the company. In this respect, Yeane has a unique approach. “The mission that I convey to the employees is always short term in nature. A long-term mission is divulged only to those at the top management level,” she said. In this way, her employees are not overly burdened by a target.

“It is often the case that people see a long-term target as something high-sounding and unobtainable. Therefore, it is better for employees to know only about short-term targets, which are easier for them to reach, even though these are actually steps to reaching the long-term target,” said Yeane.  

Although she is confident about her management style, Yeane believes her program will succeed only if it is supported by reliable human resources. “First of all, a person’s character must be good. It is very difficult to change someone’s character. However, it is easier to develop good character,” she noted.  

A graduate of the University of Southern California, Yeane said everyone’s foundation was their character. Therefore, various kinds of training regarding character building have always been given to her employees.you start with in your heart will later be thought about and then become a habit and will eventually become an outcome,” she said.  

Yeane, who loves casual dress, said her work ethics were not only influenced by what she had learned from her father but also from her experiences as a professional. Despite her young age, Yeane has garnered a lot of working experience. Once she was a assistant manager at one of Sinarmas Group’s subsidiaries. She also developed and managed the first Internet caf‚ in Indonesia, NetCafe, before joining Denpoo in 2000 as its marketing and purchasing manager.  

As heir apparent, Yeane has prepared a number of plans for the future development of Denpoo. Aside from ensuring that Denpoo remains a market leader in the washing machine market, Yeane also feels it is her duty to develop the gas stove market. In her opinion, the gas stove market will some day become very big, especially with the government’s program to get low-income people to switch from kerosene burners to gas stoves.  

To realize this plan, Yeane is ready to push the company’s research and development team to be more innovative so that every year they can come up with new products. Thanks to continuous innovation, Denpoo is now known not only for its washing machines and air conditioners, but also for its variety of home appliances, such as blenders, irons, hair dryers and vacuum cleaners.  

To get closer to consumers, Yeane plans to expand and increase the number of after-sale service centers, particularly in cities in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi. “We will concentrate on tapping the market potential in the regions,” she said. (T. Hidayat)  

The Jakarta Post, May 28, 2008

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