Forging Ahead

Cindy Hein



(Nova Category Winner 2017)

"Promptness, efficiency and trust are the values that propel Heinrich Food in its second decade of operations"

When Cindy Hein first opened the doors of Heinrich Food for business in 2006, the prospects seemed uncertain. She was not sure if it was going to be sustainable, and to make matters worse, her resources were limited.

“I told myself that I would give it a year and do everything within my ability to make it work within the budget,” says Hein, who turns 53 this year. “Whether or not I could sustain the company, I would gladly accept it. At least I gave it a try.”

The first 12 months of business proved excruciatingly demanding — she had to run her company with a very lean team and there were not very many suppliers at her disposal. But her efforts were soon rewarded, owing in no small part to her 26 years of experience in the food service sector. The company was profitable from the second year, much to her own surprise.

Today, her customers include food and hospitality establishments such as hotels, clubs, restaurants, cafeterias, learning institutions and food courts.

“There is little meaning in competing with the much larger players in this industry,” says Hein. “I’m really targeting the small- to medium-sized food establishments. And my clients are happy to work with us because we understand their business and challenges.”

As the company strides into its 11th year of operation, Hein says her focus is on growing and developing sales and other strategies to drive the company into its next decade. Product differentiation and innovation are also in the pipeline — the company has begun importing its own seafood under the HF brand, and Hein reveals that the company is now able to put out items that are processed for convenience such as pre-cut meats and ready-to-use marinades. “In this line, speed and convenience are two very crucial factors that kitchen crews consider when they buy products. Our processing plant allows us to create products to cater to their needs, and also affords greater value-add to our customers.”

Hein adds that there are other benefits of being a food distributor and supplier on the scale of an SME. Without the bureaucracy typical of larger companies or MNCs, payment to its suppliers is very prompt. And if problems are encountered in the day-to-day operations of the business, finding and implementing solutions can be done speedily without having to wait for a long approval process. Clients also have assurance that products will be delivered on time.

“We never fail to deliver,” Hein asserts. “Supposing something crops up during delivery or there is a shortage of a certain item or product, we make it a point to source for a substitute elsewhere and have it sent to the customer. Our commitment to deliver lies at the heart of everything that we do.”

The same dedication and commitment extends to value-added items and services — Hein says the company is more than happy to make deliveries more than once a day to the same client if the situation calls for it. “Not only do we emphasise promptness and efficiency, we must also be sure that our customers get exactly what they ordered. I think that is one main contributing factor to Heinrich’s success in a highly competitive industry. We are able to earn the trust of our customers based on our track record and performance.”

Heinrich’s 10th year in business was a milestone for the company — last year, it won an award at the Singapore SME 1000 2016, which to Hein is an affirmation of the company’s reputation and status. “Looking back, I’m truly appreciative of the unwavering trust that our suppliers and customers placed in us,” says Hein. “And this is only possible with our very strong and reliable team of support staff. Some of my staff members have been with us for more than eight years and are still growing with us. Without them, we would not be where we are today.”

The same drive and passion that inspired Hein to start her own food distribution company keeps her going to this day. Undaunted by the challenges in a fiercely competitive industry, she says that she has no regrets and aspires to push the company to achieve loftier goals. “I enjoy taking calculated risks,” she shares. “A good entrepreneur should be able to deal with problems calmly and find suitable, timely solutions. Never say die — once you move ahead, you don’t go back.”

To Hein, her company and colleagues are her second family, and she treats them as such, lending support and encouragement when needed. “When you take care of your staff and give everyone an opportunity, the whole company benefits,” she offers. “You trust your colleagues to do the job, they earn the respect and trust of the customers, and they in turn trust you. It comes full circle.”


BG (NS) Chan Wing Kai


Seed Global Investment

BG (NS) Chan Wing Kai spent 29 years in the Singapore Armed Forces as a military officer. He rose up to the Army’s top leadership and held numerous key appointments.

The years in the Armed Forces provided him a strong foundation in leadership, human capital management, operational planning, training development and critical diplomatic skills.

He retired from active military service in 2016 and is currently a Director with SEED Global Investment, a real estate investment firm. He oversees the company’s portfolio and business development in the US and UK. He holds a MSc in Applied Finance from the Singapore Management University, and is no stranger to corporate finance, portfolio management, equities, bonds and derivatives.



Member of Parliament
Board Member

Business China

Ms Tin Pei Ling is the Chief Executive Officer of Business China, a non-profit organisation that harnesses the support of the public sector & private enterprises to strengthen the ties between Singapore and China. Prior to joining Business China, Pei Ling was the Group Director of Corporate Strategy for Jing King Group.

Pei Ling is an elected Member of Parliament in Singapore since 2011 and currently serves on the Public Accounts Committee. She also serves on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Communications & Information (from 2018, Dy Chairperson) and Health (2011 – present) and previously for Law/Home Affairs (2011-2015) and Social & Family Development (2015 – 2018, Dy Chairperson).



Managing Director

Mr Ryan Chioh joined in 1998 as Executive Director of Far East Flora Holdings Pte Ltd.

Always a firm advocator for technology, Ryan identified the direction for e-commerce development and saw a business opportunity to offer’s extensive range of flowers and gifts online in 2001. Ryan blended his IT savviness and prudent business sense to steer the company’s website to become the leading portal for flowers and gifts. Ryan also brought the company to another level by spearheading the development of a CRM and ERP business solution, integrating the front-end and back-end operations so that there would be easier identification of customer base.



Head, Operations System & Control


Sing Hwee is the Head, Operations System & Control of Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd. He is responsible for the business processes and control functions, information systems and technology as well as Internal Audit and Risk Management.  He also takes ownership of the Group’s Delegation of Authority and Procurement Policy. 

Sing Hwee has more than 20 years of experience in providing risk management, performance improvement, internal controls and business advisory services to clients in various industries, including the real estate sector.  Being a thought leader and a recognised expert in this field, he used to sit in the Ernst & Young (EY) ASEAN Partner Governance Council and led the Advisory (Risk) Internal Audit Practice in Asia Pacific, ASEAN and Singapore covering 17 countries, 30 partners and 700 professionals.  Before joining EY, he had spent many years in risk consulting with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Andersen.



Member of Parliament

Eagle Eye Centre

Dr Lim Wee Kiak, is an elected Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC since 2015 and serves as chairman of Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Ministry of Community, Culture and Youth. An Ophthalmologist, Dr Lim is currently the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Eagle Eye Centre.

Dr Lim joined the Singapore Armed Forces as a medical officer in 1994 and completed subspecialty training in Ophthalmology in 1998, with a Master’s degree in Medicine and two post-graduate specialist qualifications in Ophthalmology. During his service in SAF, he led numerous humanitarian missions to neighbouring countries. He joined Singapore National Eye Centre and was awarded the MOH HMDP fellowship in 2003, doing one year of clinical and research Fellowship at the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health.

Dr Lim had been an active grassroots leader since 1998 before joining politics in 2006. For his active community involvement, he was awarded the Young Executive of the Year in 2000 and Public Service Medal (PBM) in 2003.


Chew Mok Lee

Enterprise Fellow

Enterprise Singapore

Ms Chew Mok Lee is the Assistant Chief Executive in charge of ICM & Digitalisation, Enterprise Services & New Industries in Enterprise Singapore, a government agency spearheading enterprise and industry development, reporting to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore. Enterprise Singapore is also the national Standards body in Singapore.

Prior to Enterprise Singapore, Mok Lee was with National Productivity Board (NPB), PSB and SPRING Singapore. She graduated from National University of Singapore, majoring in Economics and Statistics. She has a double Masters and is well versed in the area of enterprise promotion, industry development and partnership building, having been involved in various aspects of capability development, support for local enterprises, enabling a viable enterprise eco-system and entrepreneurship for 29 years. She also served as Secretariat to the Action Community for Entrepreneurship and was responsible for working with the Minister in Charge of Entrepreneurship and private sector members to foster entrepreneurship and support start-ups in Singapore.



Regional Head
Corporate and Transactional Practice

Rajah & Tann Singapore

Mr Chia Kim Huat has extensive experience in capital market, public and private mergers and acquisitions, cross-border joint ventures and private equity investments, both in Singapore and the region. He travels regularly in the Asia-Pacific region advising clients on a wide range of matters, including direct investments and infrastructure projects in China, major acquisitions in Korea, joint ventures in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan and cross-border mergers and acquisitions transactions. Kim Huat also advises foreign investors on their investments in Singapore, including listings on the Singapore Exchange, privatisations, secondary and dual listings.

He has been recognised as a leading lawyer in his field by International Financial Law Review 1000, Chambers Global “Leaders in their Field”, Asia Pacific Legal 500, “Eminent Practitioner” in Chambers Asia Pacific, Who’s Who Legal: Corporate – Merger & Acquisition/Capital Markets – Debt and Equity and Merger & Acquisition, ‘Leading Lawyer’ in Asialaw Profiles and Best Lawyers, 2017 Edition.



Deputy Chief Executive (Operations)
SkillsFuture Singapore

Wee Beng is the Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) of SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG). He leads the Business Technology Group (Operations Planning Division, Capability Development Division, Operations & Support Division, Security & Infrastructure Division), the Training, Manpower & Infrastructure Group (Manpower & Infrastructure Planning Division, Office of Lifelong Learning, and Institute of Adult Learning which comprises Learning and Professional Development Division, Research and Innovation Division, Learning Services and Support Division ) as well as the Business Services Group (Shared Services Management, Integrated Business Services Division &, Corporate Services Division).

Prior to joining SSG, Wee Beng was an officer with the Singapore Armed Forces, leading both large and small teams. His last appointment was Chief-of-Staff, Republic of Singapore Navy, overseeing a range of staff departments and ground commands. Other key appointments held were Head Naval Operations, Commander of Maritime Security Task Force and Commander, Naval Diving Unit. Wee Beng holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Physics from Oxford University, UK, and a Master of Science in Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.