Behind every successful company is an orchestra of people playing different roles. RICE started as a modest four-man outfit in 2001. Now eighteen years later, the staff strength has grown to 35. Besides the smiling concierges who greet you when you enter riceLAB, and the meticulous Material Planners (MPCs), who assist you in experiencing the showroom and plan your materials, there is also a dedicated team of staff who work out of sight. Find out who they are, as we celebrate RICE’s 18th birthday by also celebrating our staff in the frontline and behind the scenes too.
A Walking Encyclopedia of Tiles
Mukul Hossain has worked at RICE for five years, but he knows their tiles – all 300plus of them – probably better than anyone else. After all, he is the person responsible for creating the tile samples you see in MATERIAL LAB. As an Operations Assistant at RICE’s warehouse, Mukul's responsibilities include storekeeping, receiving as well as delivering goods, and doing up handy samples for the showroom and for customers to take home. “I like working at RICE because the company treats us like family, and I can talk to them openly,” says the 45-year-old, who is also a father of 1.
Mukul also carries out a thorough check of the tiles that are delivered daily to ensure strict quality control standards. Compared to when he first joined the company, Mukul says he’s busier now, as the volume of business has gone up, as with the tile sizes. “Tiles are getting bigger, and each slim tile takes two workers to carry. We also have to be more careful with slim tiles as they’re more fragile.”
When Belinda Low first applied for the customer service role at RICE in 2012, she thought it was a rice distributor. She also remembers being impressed by the café-style interiors of the showroom at Eng Watt Street – “I didn’t dare step in!” she says. Now, six years later, Belinda is part of the business support team managing inventory, logistics, and shipments. However, she first served in customer service supporting the MPCs in quotations and payments. This familiarity with the back office roles at RICE has made her a jack of all trades in the company, which means she is able to help her colleagues in other departments when needed.
“We’re a lot busier now. With a lot of new products coming in, we have to work harder,” says Belinda. But hard work isn’t without its perks. She counts a staff retreat to Penang in 2016, which involved the whole company, as one of her most memorable moments, together with a performance she had to put up with a group of colleagues at a company event.
Putting Sincerity into Service
Hemelia Sazali’s professional career started at RICE, when she joined the company fresh out of school armed with a Diploma in Interior Architecture & Design certification six years ago. The 26-year-old MPC recalls her days at the Eng Watt showroom – the office was so small, she didn’t have her own desk and had to sit somewhere different every day. “Even though I was an MPC, I sat at the concierge counter. We had to multi-task more, and I also learnt to handle customer service functions and concierge duties,” she relates.
“We weren’t that busy then as it was a smaller company, but now we’re very busy as business is competitive. But we just have to adapt to the current situation,” says Hemelia. After the company moved to their new four-storey flagship at Henderson Industrial Park in 2014, “it takes more time to attend to customers, but the showroom is also more impressive”. In addition to being an MPC, she now trains new MPCs as well. Compared to her own experience, their pace of training is now faster as the company scales up to be able to handle bigger commercial projects. Sometimes up to three MPCs can be assigned to a large scale project, so they can be more responsive to the client’s needs.
Says Hemelia, “It doesn’t feel like I’ve been here six years, as there are always different challenges and clients. My experience working at RICE has helped me build up my confidence.”
Making People Feel at Home
Concierge Michael Gabaldon welcomes guests to riceLAB with a warm smile and a cup of freshly brewed coffee. “I treat this as my home, so I always do the best I can,” he explains. The day-to-day duties of a concierge include connecting with guests, receiving deliveries, and tracking appointments, but Michael often goes the extra mile at work, such as assisting the guests to experience riceLAB when the MPCs are busy. “The interiors of our showrooms have always been very inspirational and I have become more aware of the products as well,” he says. Michael joined RICE in 2013 when it was at Eng Watt Street; at Henderson, the “roles are more defined, but there’s still flexibility among colleagues.”
“My attitude towards being a concierge has always been to have first call resolution. If I can solve the problem, I will, instead of having the customer come back with more questions,” says Michael, who is 30 and previously worked at a call centre. “RICE has been a good training ground for me to build up my confidence, become a better person and work in a professional manner.”
Experience the excellent service standards of riceLAB. Make an appointment by emailing us here or by calling 6692 1199. riceLAB is at 213 Henderson Road 01.03 Singapore 159553. RICE is open from Mondays to Fridays 10am to 7pm, and Saturdays from 10am to 6pm.
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