MM Star: SME Excellence Business Award & Top Business Service and Quality Award 2022/2023

MM Star 1
MM Star 1

Founder of MM Star Pte Ltd, Mr Salihi

MM Star is an import and export business focussing on food products and raw materials for food production. They also trade a wide range of commodity and food products internationally with customers and suppliers from over five continents– Italy, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, etc.– in over 120 buying items in bulk. Dealing mainly with countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and India, MM Star have achieved a ‘farm to fork’ standard for their products.     

Mr Salihi, the founder of the company, started this business from scratch. And the story of how he did it was a commendable one at that. Through networking, he began his journey into the import and export industry overseas through a close customer who gave him his big break; gradually building his business to where it is today. Although he started out alone buying and selling vegetables from Sungai Kadut, today, he runs MM Star for eight years.     

A man with big dreams, Mr Salihi wasn’t always taken seriously. He had many doubters yet persevered through this journey. He noticed a surge of demand in food commodities in countries like Sri Lanka, India, and Bangladesh, and jumped on the opportunity to start something there. Mr Salihi also pushes his team to address food safety and compliance throughout the product life cycle to ensure ample customer care. Whether you’re looking to market your product or export to various countries worldwide, his team will assist you In the process of complying with quality standards and meeting your goals; as proven by the many years of success MM Star has under its belt.       

This, however, wasn’t his first idea. Mr Salihi was, what they say, a dreamer. A man with multiple ideas at one go. He was constantly putting each idea to work when eventually he penetrated the market. His determination and hard work wasn’t met with positivity and caused a lot of cracks in his business, yet he brushed them aside temporarily and worked towards his goal. He is, what I’d say, a force to be reckoned with.  Motivated by success, Mr Salihi understands the value of life and knows his potential, he is constantly pushing himself and knows there’s more greatness to be achieved.      

Apart from manufacturing sauces like soy sauce and fish sauce, MM Star also deals with importing and exporting raw materials and FMCG. Additionally, they also provide safety consultancy services and supply manpower to various companies around the island on a contractual basis. MM Star is not a one-stop-shop and has proven to be a go-to mini-hub for multiple services. With the many services under one roof, Mr Salihi is constantly exploring his horizons for his next venture.     

Mr Salihi’s journey with MM Star wasn’t always this easy flowing, though. When Mr Salihi started out, the local market had a small volume of consumers, and the export market was going by container basis. MM Star was putting in more than they could regenerate, which wasn’t good— economically. Despite the setbacks, MM Star overcame it with its resources and business plan, slowly making itself known to the market. It was also a rough start for Mr Salihi as he didn’t have the backing of closed ones and was afraid of getting shut down before asking for help due to his heavily tattooed outlook. Stereotypes aside, he was also suffering from the judgement of those around him who had difficulties understanding his visions. Alas, he powered through and worked towards his goals to get to where he is at today. He also added that the COVID-19 pandemic hindered manufacturing processes and affected tourism in the countries he worked closely with, and that required a lot of strategising to regain his footing back into the industry.    

Throughout the many years of trial and error, Mr Salihi added that he learnt a lot from observing how the businesses around him were run and doing the same thing to his business. MM Star’s objectives are to expand and provide excellent customer service to clients. Constantly looking for avenues to build his business, Mr Salihi also noted that his employees come first as they are the company’s biggest asset. He’s very hands-on in staff welfare and makes it a point to address any issues immediately. “A business is an ongoing innovative process that will never stop”, said Mr Salihi, and this also led to him noting that mistakes will occur along the way however, it’s up to employers to take the initiative to do damage control.     

MM Star also has a handful of loyal employees who’ve been with the company since 2014. As Mr Salihi mentioned, he treats his staff like family and ensures their well-being. Mr Salihi, however, maintains direct contact by being the only contact point when liaising with clients to ensure a smooth ordeal of things. He also mentioned that while technology is moving at a rapid pace, most of his clients still opt for the traditional mode of communication which took him a while to get adjusted to. Nevertheless, he has since adapted but maintains improving the IT system within his company to keep up with technology while easing the workload for his team internally.     

MM Star isn’t like any other business though, Mr Salihi actively participates in giving back to society through various forms of Charity. Over the years, he’s helped a lot by giving away facial masks and sanitisers to various organisations as well as participating in different food banks by offering food products to those in need.     

MM Star has multiple achievements. Back in 2019, the company achieved over nine million dollars in revenue— 39% more than targeted. Mr Salihi mentioned that it was a huge milestone for the company, and he used the additional income to invest in other businesses to continually see financial growth from within. MM Star also received multiple awards from the community, ISO certifications: ISO 9001, ISO 22000, ISO 13485, ISO 45000, BizSafe Star, has yearly audits, and is a Member of Federations.  

What makes MM Star stand out from their competitors is the fact that they do their own OEM, branding, financing, and go above and beyond to provide excellent value-added services. The company also makes it a point to provide full transparency when dealing with clients to ensure trust between both parties. Mr Salihi added that MM Star pays close attention to the quality of their product too.     

Over the years, Mr Salihi has learnt tremendously in matters of managing the company’s finances as well as looking into details like ensuring staff wages are on par with the market rate and there’s a middle footing. He is also focused on continuing his legacy for when his not around by being very meticulous with his products.     

Mr Salihi, being a family-oriented man explained that MM Star’s logo was inspired by his children— MM being the initials of his two children. He mentioned that it was a doodle he did from 2013, later realising that ‘MM’ are strong alphabets and was in line with his theme of simplicity. He then added the star to keep the logo short and simple, and an easy name to roll off the tongue as well.      Adding on to the growth of his company, Mr Salihi shared that there’s no need to get into various Social Media platforms as that’s not where his target consumers can be found.  Instead, his company is marketing through various related websites and is featured in the Singapore Agri-food Directory. Through advertising with those domains, MM Star has received an abundance of sales enquiries and new clients. By working closely with clients from third world countries, there isn’t a need to move the business to e-commerce platforms as well. Hence, the traditional mode of communication still works.

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