Fify Manan reveals the challenges she faces as an entrepreneur, what it takes to expand a business on an international scale, and about being a member of the Indonesian diaspora
Fify Manan is President and CEO of Formcase Group, a furniture manufacturing firm based in Tangerang that was founded by her father-in-law Erwin Manan in 1963. Her husband, Robert Manan, joined the business in the early 1990s, initiating the transformation from home industry into mass production, and started exporting to Asia and the Middle East. Fify later joined the company in 2000 and successfully expanded Formcase into the US and Europe in 2001.
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Running a business overseas is challenging, especially in the US. Fify explains that her customers are very picky and tend to search for mistakes. “It’s not easy to keep up with their standards, since the US has a mature market, and they expect the best quality from a brand,” Fify says..
She adds that in the US a piece of furniture has to last for four seasons—spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Moreover, due to ocean freight shipping, which can take up to 30 days, it is important to have reliable and sturdy packaging to ensure the lasting quality of the product.
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With the GSA contract, Formcase has the right to supply all government agencies in the US, including the Department of Defense—the army, the navy, and the air force—even outside of the US, such as to Japan, Korea, and Guam. “It’s like a blessing in disguise,” says Fify, who also managed to set up distribution in 20 states.
Not only that, she has further managed to establish wholesale and distribution networks in six global regions—Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the US. Fify says that the biggest market is still North and South America.
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This smart Indonesian Diaspora businesswoman, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Oklahoma State University and attended an MBA programme at the University of Tulsa, established PT Rifyo Indonesia in 2012 when she came back to Indonesia for good. Unlike Formcase, which is a manufacturer and exporter, Rifyo is an importer that focuses on the domestic market, providing furnishings and design solutions for offices.
Connect with Fify
Outside her business, Fify is President of Indonesian Diaspora Business Council (IDBC) and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Indonesian Diaspora Network. “At IDBC, we act as a bridge between Indonesian diaspora businesses and those in the country. We assist small and medium-sized companies that want to export their products. As for my role, I always encourage the younger generation to continue their leadership,” Fify concludes.