Perspective sat down with managing director of JEB International Rob Wall to learn about how his company has developed to become one of the world's leading partition systems manufacturers
Hailing from Perth, Australia, Rob Wall started his journey into the world of partition systems as the sales and technical manager at JEB Asia Group. Based in Singapore, he helped to develop the region's market for the firm's autoclaved aerated concrete division (AAC) and introduced a revolutionary method of constructing lightweight interior partitions.
Back then, the company was a start-up and Wall was just the second employee. In 1994, he moved to the AAC division and office partition division of JEB Asia Singapore, where he took care of technical and sales training, practical construction method training, development of marketing directives, led all interior partition contracting projects and developed the firm's contracting division in Singapore.
Over the next few years, he acquired clients such as Motorola, JP Morgan and Mobil Oil for the firm, and in 1996 he bought JEB Asia Group with his then business partner Terry Jordan. Renaming the company JEB Greater China, he moved the firm's headquarters to Hong Kong.
In 1997, he was appointed director of Hong Kong and China, responsible for setting up offices and operations in the region. The firm began supplying interior office partitions from Australia, but after a few years, he didn't see a lot of innovation happening in the industry. Instead, he focused on high-end products from Europe, but waiting time was just too long for his clients in Asia.
"At one point, I realised that there must be a hybrid between the two — stick built aluminium, but a change in design that would look more like the Italian products," recalls Wall. Then, in 1999, Wall and Jordan undertook a management buyout, transforming the company from a distributorship to a manufacturer and designer of partition systems.
"It was quite a scary time actually," notes Wall. "It was when Hong Kong had just been handed over, and just that two-year period afterwards things were kind of bumbling down and down and down… And then SARS hit in 2003, which really wiped everything out. But in the fall-out came renewed growth, and we changed our strategy and started developing our own product lines, so it was good."
The firm soon launched its versatile, aluminium-framed partition system, X Series, and things really took off from there. JEB now has offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, with distributors throughout Asia, the Middle East, the UK and Australia.
Today, as managing director of JEB International, Wall is based in Hong Kong driving product development and overseeing the Greater China market. He also assists with concept designs to meet the requirements of a variety of projects for architects and designers.
This is an excerpt from the "Metamorphosis of a Brand” article from the January/February 2017 issue of Perspective magazine.
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