In over four decades, Waterco – founded in 1981 by Goh Soon Sinn – has grown to encompass a sprawling business in the manufacture, wholesale and export of equipment and accessories running the gamut of swimming pool, spa pool, spa bath, rural pump and water treatment. Even more impressively, its business now extends across four continents, and is currently present in Europe, North America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
The international reach of Waterco has enabled it to be involved in projects as varied as; a desalination plant in Basra, Iraq, the world’s largest saltwater pool on the Portuguese Rivera, an aquaculture abalone farm in South Korea and Singapore’s Universal Studios. For its founder and CEO Goh Soon Sinn, the journey has been one of incremental growth – and with the rapid changes in technology – one of adaptation.
In over four decades, what has been your most important business lesson?
One lesson that shouldn’t be taken for grants is ensuring cash flow and gearing are always doing well. This pandemic taught us that times can be unpredictable, and when the economy turns soft, it is your profitability and cash flow which contributes to business success.
What was the biggest area of growth for Waterco since the pandemic began?
Surprisingly, the best growth came from Europe and USA during the pandemic – consumers started to pay more attention to home improvement. Our swimming pool solutions and water filtration systems helped consumers enhance their homes with high-quality and energy savings enhancements.
Did you have an idea of how Waterco would develop as a company during its founding in 1981?
During the first ten years, I did not envisage the global distribution coverage we have today. I could only visualise where we would like to get to – for the next five years to come. After all, the world has changed so much that if we didn’t keep up to date with frequent product development, we would have faded off by now.
What has been your biggest inspiration to continue to grow and expand?
Although I started out in the swimming pool industry, I did not want to limit myself and wanted to continue growing into water-related industries. While the swimming pool industry plays a very significant part in our business, we managed to venture into the water treatment sector and achieve significant results with a wide range of solutions. Today, Waterco continues to do its best in these sectors through continuous advancement in the R&D field. Our notable recent achievements include the introduction of the Hot Water System using solar systems and heat pumps, providing more energy and cost-efficient options for heating water in large residential and commercial projects.
What are some of the evolving technologies that are bringing greater improvement to the swimming pool business?
One of the industry trends is the smart swimming pool system – where you can manage water and energy efficiency. In view of this, we are improving our smart solutions such as adding Wi-Fi connectivity for remote maintenance and reducing manual work. In most places in Asia, swimming pool maintenance is still very manual and basic – automation in the coming years will bring about improvement for both the swimming pool owners and swimmers.
With so many areas of specialisation, what is the growth runway for Waterco?
Personally, I believe Waterco has grown both vertically and horizontally in the swimming pool business. We are not looking at South America or Africa. I want to place our focus on markets we currently cover – where we believe there will be opportunities to triple our group revenue.
What do you do in life that is still analogue?
Definitely dining out and reading the newspaper. I’m in the process of adapting to ordering food online and reading news on the computer. But I still enjoy the overall experience of dining out and having papers in my hands.
What is the Goh Soon Sinn style when it comes to fashion?
My shirts. Simple and comfortable ones. More so in tropical Malaysia.
What’s the Goh Soon Sinn wellness and health routine?
As best I can, I try to take early morning walks and have a light dinner in the evenings. Drinking sufficient amounts of clean water is also a must.
Which cities do you particularly enjoy and why?
Sydney, which is cosmopolitan and has lovely weather most of the time. This is where my family lives. My second choice is London.
Which city is home for you?
Kuala Lumpur is home for me, for now. There’s so much good food and many of my friends are here. I enjoy my work here too, especially in developing manufacturing processes and products.
What are your regular restaurants in the cities you frequent most?
Chinese food is everywhere in the cities I regularly visit – Sydney, Guangzhou and Ho Chi Minh.
The person you most admire?
Elon Musk – to be able to successfully deliver electric vehicles to the world and lead the technological change from petrol-driven vehicles to EVs is truly remarkable!
Photos: Marcus Wong / MV Perspective
Shot at Qing Gallery, Desa Park City
Painting: Water In The Well, 2022 by Michelle Yap