Kwok leads Far East Global to its peak

Risks and opportunities are two sides of the same coin – both present themselves at challenging times. Curtain wall solutions provider Far East Global Group, listed in Hong Kong last year, has the entrepreneurial flair to identify new opportunities. At times of macroeconomic crisis the Group takes a big leap forward and capitalizes on the opportunity to expand its business. The Group’s management takes pleasure in reaching challenging goals in races against time, said Far East Global Group Chief Executive Officer Gary Kwok Yeung-kwong in an exclusive interview with They take pride in the ineffable satisfaction achieved upon overcoming immense difficulties. Such a proactive management approach is what it takes for the Group to outdo countless competitors year after year.

During the 1973 local stock crash, 2003 SARS outbreak and 2008 global financial tsunami, the Group completed the first local curtain wall projects in respectively Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada. The Group successfully developed these markets and established a roadmap for business expansion abroad. With its roots deep in Hong Kong, Far East Global Group was founded in 1969 and initially specialized in aluminium window installation in local residential properties. Later led by its IAC aluminium operations, the Group expanded into advanced curtain wall technologies and eventually partnered with IAC to venture into the somewhat unconventional curtain wall installation market. To master the technologies, Gary Kwok personally travelled to the United States in the 1970s to try to develop a whole new theory on curtain wall technologies applicable to Far East Global building on the Group’s extensive experience in aluminium window installation. To facilitate corporate transformation, the Group generously brought in renowned curtain wall experts from abroad to personally instruct in the application of curtain wall technologies in Hong Kong. Combining three decades of experience and practice, Far East Global and its staff have now become a leading expert on curtain wall projects.

Just when the local economy hit rock bottom in 2003, the Group sought to develop overseas markets and boosted its turnover from under a million to over a billion dollars, thanks to a determination to “go out”. In 2006 the Group won a curtain wall project for the world’s tallest building – 828-metre tall, 169-storey high Burj Khalifa in Dubai – and gained global recognition and presence. Since then an encouraging jingle has hit the market: “Complicated curtain wall projects need Far East Global. Exceptionally complicated curtain wall projects need no one but Far East Global!” Burj Khalifa in Dubai presented the most challenging curtain wall project for the Group over the past few decades, Kwok said. Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest buttress core system, supported by a central core emerged from the foundation to the 156th floor and reinforced by traditional concrete structure in the upper levels. A Y-shaped floor plan was adopted to help stabilize the monumental structure.

Burj Khalifa is also the most complex curtain wall project the Group and the world has ever seen, Kwok added. The tower’s irregular, complex design and immense wind forces on the top of the tower posed substantial challenges to the construction process. The construction team also faced hot weather, human resources and cultural issues as well as an unreasonable construction schedule. The extremely short construction schedule was a major bottleneck. Kwok said the Group was one of the three leading curtain wall solutions providers bidding for the Burj Khalifa project. In 2004 the Group lost the bid to a Swiss curtain wall company that has a relatively closer relationship with Dubai. The Swiss company however was unable to complete the installation beyond the 88th floor, resulting in the project being suspended for two years. In 2006, Burj Khalifa’s architect and consultants arrived in Hong Kong to discuss with Far East Global about undertaking the remaining curtain wall installation, with a condition that the 36-month installation project was to be significantly shortened to 18 months. Overcoming the extreme technical complexity and time constraint, Far East Global developed an unrivalled competence that gives it an edge in handling all types of curtain wall projects in the future.