Richard Tay Tian Hoe (b. 195?, Singapore–) is the executive chairman and group managing director of YHI International Limited, a Singapore public-listed company that distributes automotive and industrial products. The company is an original design manufacturer of alloy wheels1 and has subsidiaries and associated companies in more than 100 countries.2 In recognition of his entrepreneurial achievements, Tay was awarded the Lianhe Zaobao-ENDEC Entrepreneurship Excellence Award in 1996, and the Ernst & Young Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2007.3
Tay’s father, Tay Chin Kiat, was an immigrant from China and set up Yew Huat & Company in 1948.4 The shop at Geylang Lorong 39 was a sole proprietorship trading in tyres and automotive batteries. During his younger days, Tay would help his father after school and during holidays.5 This experience cultivated his deep interest in cars and automotive accessories.6 After completing his GCE A-Levels at Chung Cheng High School, Tay joined his father’s company.7 In 1970, Tay set up Yew Huat Tyre Company together with his brothers. The company sold tyres and batteries in Singapore, and later expanded to include the import and wholesale of tyres, alloy wheels and automotive batteries.8 Over time, his business expanded into the ASEAN countries, China, Australia and New Zealand.9
Tay displayed his entrepreneurial flair early in his career. At the age of 21, he flew to Japan and successfully negotiated a Singapore distributorship for Hitachi batteries. In 1973, the company became the sole agent for Hitachi batteries in Singapore. The next year, he secured an exclusive distributorship for Yokohama tyres with one of Japan’s biggest tyre manufacturers. In 1975, the company became the sole distributor of Enkei alloy wheels in Singapore.10 That same year, his father retired, and Yew Huat & Company and Yew Huat Tyre Company were subsequently merged into Yew Huat Tyre & Battery Pte Ltd.11
During the 1980s and 1990s, Tay reorganised and grew the company, expanding it to other countries, e.g., Hong Kong, China, Australia and New Zealand. The company began importing cheaper automotive batteries from Korea and Taiwan, as well as Hitachi industrial power products from Japan.12
In January 1996, the Yew Huat Industries Pte Ltd. changed its name to YHI Holdings Pte Ltd.13 That same year, Tay included the design and manufacture of alloy wheels as part of YHI’s range of products and services, making YHI the first original design manufacturer of alloy wheels in Singapore.14 Its first manufacturing plant was in Taiwan.
Under Tay’s leadership, the company received the Enterprise 50 Award consecutively from 1995 to 1999.15 In 2003, the company was listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange.16 The company was consistently ranked among the top 100 companies in Singapore from 2005 to 2008, based on overseas revenue.17 In 2008, Tay made a much-publicised move to supply the Toro Rosso Formula One racing team with YHI’s proprietary brand of Advanti Racing lightweight racing rims. That year, the team won the Italian Grand Prix.18 Advanti Racing received the Regional Brand title at the Singapore Prestige Brand Award, an annual event organised by the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises and Lianhe Zaobao.19
Around the time when YHI was producing alloy wheels and tyres, Tay also planned for YHI to enter the battery-making market, so that it is a manufacturer rather than a distributor of these three products.20
In recognition of his entrepreneurial achievements, Tay was awarded the Lianhe Zaobao–ENDEC Entrepreneurship Excellence Award in 1996, the Rotary-ASME Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1997, and the Ernst & Young Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2007.21 22
In his younger days, Tay was also a racing enthusiast. He used to race his Mini Cooper S at Sembawang and the Thomson Road circuit, and the Batu Tiga circuit in Shah Alam, Malaysia.23 He has won several Singapore Grand Prix trophies and Mini Cooper race events in both countries. He gave up racing in 1975 to concentrate on the family business, and at the advice of his then wife-to-be, who was concerned for his safety.24
Wife: Dawn (married in 1978)
Daughters: Sue Anne and Sue Jean
1. Nisha Ramchandani, “YHI Aims to Pull Ahead of the Competition,” Business Times, 29 November 2007, 42 (From NewspaperSG); YHI International Limited, YHI International Annual Report 2020 (Singapore: YHI International Limited, 2021), 28, 147.
2. “Company Profile,” YHI International, accessed 30 August 2016.
3. Ramchandani, “YHI Aims to Pull Ahead of the Competition.”
4. “Corporate Milestones,” YHI International, accessed 7 September 2021; Lai Yi Ming, “Wheels of Fortune,” Straits Times, 9 December 2010, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
5. Leong Chan Teik, “Vision, Flair and Gumption Help Family Business Go Regional,” Straits Times, 29 June 2003, 33. (From NewspaperSG)
6. Christopher Tan, “Wheeling and Dealing,” Torque, October 2007, 16. (Call no.: RSING q629.22205 TC)
7. Leong, “Vision, Flair and Gumption.”
8. Samuel Ee, “A Passion for Rims,” Business Times, 19 November 2005, 15.(From NewspaperSG); Ramchandani, “YHI Aims to Pull Ahead of the Competition.”
9. Leong, “Vision, Flair and Gumption.”
10. Leong, “Vision, Flair and Gumption.”
11. Tan, “Wheeling and Dealing.”
12. Leong, “Vision, Flair and Gumption.”
13. Advertisements Column 1, Yew Huat Industries Pte Ltd is now YHI Holdings Pte Ltd,” Straits Times, 5 January 1996, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
14. Ramchandani, “YHI Aims to Pull Ahead of the Competition.”
15. Leong, “Vision, Flair and Gumption.”
16. YHI International, Corporate Milestones”; YHI International, Prospectus Dated 24 June 2003: Invitation in Respect of 58,000,000 New Shares of S$0.20 Each Comprising / YHI International Limited (Singapore: YHI International, 2003). (Call no. RSING 338.7629248 YHI)
17. “Accolades,” YHI International, accessed 30 August 2016.
18. Leonard Lim, “Businessman’s Winning Feeling,” Straits Times, 16 September 2008, 36. (From NewspaperSG)
19. YHI International, “Accolades”; “Congratulations to the Winners of SPBA 2010,” Business Times, 9 December 2010, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
20. “YHI Plans to Become Battery Manufacturer,” Business Times, 26 March 2008, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
21. Ramchandani, “YHI Aims to Pull Ahead of the Competition”; Oh Boon Ping, “E&Y Makes Roll Call of the Best in Entrepreneurship,” Business Times, 25 October 2007, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
22. YHI International, “Company Profile.”
23. Leonard Lim, “Need for Speed” Straits Times, 22 March 2008, 68 (From NewspaperSG); Tan, “Wheeling and Dealing.”
24. Lim, “Need for Speed.”
25. Lim, “Need for Speed.”
The information in this article is valid as at October 2021 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.