Award-winning landscape contractor Tropicana Innovative Landscape Sdn Bhd brings a new meaning to urban landscaping in Klang Valley and beyond.
By Ariel Chew
The landscaping business is not for everyone. It requires a well-rounded person skilled in the art and science of horticulture, soft and hard scape design, project management, a willingness to work for long hours under the hot sun, and a sense of humour to roll with the punches.
Herman Tan, Tropicana Innovative Landscape Sdn Bhd’s (TILSB) Executive Director, certainly fits the bill.
Prior to joining Tropicana Corporation Berhad as Deputy General Manager in 2003, he had extensive experience in the food & beverage hospitality industry and golf club management.
In late 2013, leveraging on this experience in golf course landscaping, Herman was tasked with the immense responsibility of growing TILSB to a formidable landscape services company.
Supported by a team of experts in horticulture and project management, the company offers landscape planning, master planning and urban design services.
To date, some of their multi-million ringgit landscape projects include Tropicana Avenue, Tropicana Kajang, Central Park @ The Rafflesia, Help University, Greenland, Danga Bay, Design Village (Penang Premium Outlet) and Sunway Velocity.
Smart Investor spoke to Herman (above), on the landscaping industry and how he intends to shape TILSB to be one of the leading landscaping companies in the nation.
Smart Investor (SI): As one of few notable landscape companies in the industry, what are the factors that set TILSB apart from the others?
Herman Tan (HT): Being a member of Tropicana Corporation Berhad, we have access to an experienced workforce, which we can tap onto as needed. We also have an extensive body of work, including soft and hard scape projects for both in-house and those outsourced to us.
A number of those projects have won us industry awards and accolades. One such award is the Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia’s “Malaysia Landscape Architecture Awards”, where we bagged the Landscape Contractor Honor Award 2015 and 2016 for Central Park, Tropicana Heights Kajang and Tropicana Avenue respectively, as well as the Landscape Contractor Merit Award 2016 for Raflessia @ Hillpark.
We also won the Best Project Award for Infrastructure Project (Small – RM20 million) – Landscape Contractor for The Rafflesia Central Lake’ at the “Malaysia Construction Industry Excellence Award 2016” organised by the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).
In this project, we helped MK Land Holdings Berhad transform a retention pond into The Rafflesia’s Central Lake, which is the focal point of their development. We have also recently completed a 60-feet vertical wall garden in the Greenland Danga Bay project.
SI: What were the notable challenges that TILSB has faced and how did you overcome them?
HT: As a landscape company, we are normally the last to come in after everyone else in development projects. Thus, we often have to adhere to very tight deadlines, typically two to three months.
We need to liaise with numerous parties from the architect to the fire authorities. It’s also the norm for us to serve a maintenance contract of two years, which means that any compromise on quality or workmanship will show.
So, everything that we do have to be right from the start! Succeeding under such working conditions require great project management and communication skills as well as an experienced workforce, which we are blessed with.
In addition, we have to be diligent and detailed in regular site inspections in order to nip problems in the bud.
SI: Which do you find more challenging – the soft or the hard scape part?
HT: I would say the soft scape part is definitely more challenging. Working with plants and trees means dealing with diseases and pests, some of which are beyond your control.
There’s also a lack of landscaping specific equipment and machinery available.
Those that exist are expensive to procure e.g., the ‘Big John’ tree spades used to transplant big trees – so we rent those.
That said, it is also very rewarding when you see your hard work and research blossoming into life.
SI: What are your guiding principles to success?
HT: As a self-professed perfectionist and lifelong learner, I believe that the way to be good in anything is to first admit that you don’t know and to work hard at acquiring the knowledge. Only then can you learn and grow.
It’s the same for any industry and knowledge area. It’s important to understand why we are doing the things we do and to mix with positive and right-minded people. Negative people will only pull you down and detract you from achieving your goals.
These principles serve me well as I transitioned to different industries as well as and embrace new and rapidly changing technologies.