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Gilles Marino: CLESTRA’s Asian Leadership

From its regional office in Singapore, CLESTRA had made major strides in the South East Asia market in a span of a few years. Gilles Marino tells us more.

Gilles Marino: CLESTRA’s Asian Leadership

Having taken on the role of CLESTRA’s South East Asia General Manager just three years ago, Gilles Marino has since led the company in many important projects both in Singapore and around the region.

As the leader in office system partitions marks its 101th year in 2014, we ask Marino to recount the company’s Asian success thus far, and what the future holds for them.

Parkview Green
Parkview Green building in the centre of Beijing

First off, can you tell us how you came to work for CLESTRA?

I started to know CLESTRA in 2004 when I was working in China (Shenzhen) as a Project Manager for a French engineering company named AESA. At that time I was a specialist of Radiant Ceiling technology and I started to work on a project called Parkview Green Plaza in Beijing, in partnership with CLESTRA.

In 2008 we got awarded the project so I started to know CLESTRA even more. That year I also became the Country General Manager of AESA in Shenzhen and together with the CLESTRA team we successfully completed the Parkview project in 2010, our first large scale project in China using 600,000sqft of Equalios Radiant Ceiling technology.

Having spent more than six years working on the Parkview project from its engineering conception until its completion, I can really consider it my baby!

In the beginning of 2011, I became South East Asia General Manager of CLESTRA in Singapore when the Group decided to go direct to the market in South East Asia, separating from our commercial agent who was selling our partition products since 2005.

CLESTRA partitions and Equalios ceiling in Parkview Green

What are your main goals as South East Asia General Manager of CLESTRA?

My main goal is to develop CLESTRA’s growth in the South East Asia region, making sure that we serve our Clients in the best possible way.

CLESTRA Singapore office

What has it been like working for the company?

It has been an amazing experience to work for CLESTRA over the last three years, with a growing success year after year thanks to the support of our Clients.

From the moment I opened our office in Boon Tat Street until now the time has flown so fast! Our team is well trained and ready to start 2014, which marks the beginning of a new century for CLESTRA.

We have prestigious project references in Singapore, not only for offices but also Cleanrooms and Educational and Healthcare Facilities which are all interesting fields. We are also now developing in Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and very recently in Myanmar (Yangon) with our first project completed over there at the beginning of 2014 for a famous oil company. All this experience is very enriching and makes us travel more and more!

How important is the Singapore and South East Asia market for CLESTRA?

In Asia we have offices in Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, mainland China and Singapore. We also have two manufacturing facilities, one in Korea (Gumi) and one in China (Taicang), which are both ISO 9001 and 14001 certified.

The Singapore and South East Asia market is very important to CLESTRA not only because we want to continue serving our worldwide Clients in this part of the world, but also because Singapore is the best platform to the emerging markets where multinational corporations plan to have their offices. So far the results have been promising with major Clients contacting us in those areas, creating good prospects for 2014 and 2015.

CLESTRA partitions at the DBS headquarters in Singapore

In your view, what have been the most significant developments for the company in these last few years here in Singapore and the South East Asia region?

A major development has been to prove our ability to handle major size projects such as Barclays in MBFC Tower 2 (11 floors), BNP Paribas at OFC (6 floors), Bank of America Merrill Lynch at OUE (4 floors) in 2011, DBS (18 floors) in 2012, Credit Suisse at Changi Business Park (4 floors) and the National Heart Centre in 2013, just to name the biggest.

Also, a main development has been our expansion in the region: we are now present in the Indonesian market with a DBS project in Jakarta done in 2013 (6 floors). Moreover, with the prestigious new French Embassy campus in Bangkok to be installed in mid 2014 (5 floors), we are also confirming our presence in Thailand.

3D design of an office space by CLESTRA

Can you elaborate on some of CLESTRA’s most notable regional projects to date?

DBS in 2012 in MBFC Tower 3 (anchor tenant) was an important project. It consisted of 4 kilometres of partitions (both glazed and solid) over 18 floors.

This project was significant because we dealt with 90 containers of material quantity, to be installed over 5 months which was a very challenging program.

The full dedication of our local team and the big support from our factory to deliver such volume of material in such a short time led to a successful project which is now one of the most famous in Singapore.

Another is Credit Suisse at Changi Business Park in 2013 (4 floors). For this project, we fully customised the partition system for the Client, combining wood and glass. The original specifications from the design firm were for high acoustics, flexibility in relocation and integration of acoustic sliding doors.

Our CLESTRA R&D department in Asia worked on it to finally deliver a new system, which was first installed in a pilot project in 2012 and then in the main project at Changi. This project showed the CLESTRA strength of being able to customise and fully create a new partition system for a specific application.

Wooden and glazed sliding door by CLESTRA

What are the most successful products for CLESTRA here in Singapore and the region?

Our most successful products for offices are the pleinAir and M1 systems.

pleinAir has a shadow line which gives a ‘floating’ effect to the partition. It also has high acoustics and is very flexible, being able to switch from single glaze to double glaze, integrate solid panels, curtains, etc.

CLESTRA pleinAir system

M1 was launched a year ago and has become very successful quickly because of its very thin floor channel (18mm high, which is the slimmest of our range). It also has the same flexibility as pleinAir, and a similar high acoustic performance.

(Left) M1 system with steel door. (Right) M1 system floor profile

For Embassy projects and Educational Facilities, our most successful product is Photo combined with our Lignage double-skin ceiling system. The combination of these two products offer the best flexibility and acoustic levels to our Clients: in the event of a relocation, the partitions can be easily moved from one place to another without damaging the ceiling (partitions are fixed to it by using our proprietary clipping system). And as the ceiling itself has high acoustic performance, sound baffles above the ceiling are not needed.

CLESTRA double skin ceiling and compatible CLESTRA partition system without drilling

From 2013 onwards we have also been doing solid and glazed Operable Walls and below is a picture of our most popular double glazed model, which can be easily handled and rotated to 360 degrees by the office staff.

CLESTRA’s Operable Walls, double glazed model

CLESTRA’s Operable Walls, double glazed model

What new developments can we expect from CLESTRA in 2014?

I would say a new product, but I cannot give details at this time as it will be a surprise!

CLESTRA celebrated its 100th anniversary last year. How would you describe the future of the company in relation to its last 100 years?

Indeed CLESTRA is starting a new century in 2014, carrying along the same vision of our founder Mr Hauserman one hundred years ago.

We will tackle the future with the same passion and can-do spirit, following with strong interest the recent workplace solution reports emphasising that the open space concept has numerous disadvantages in terms of productivity and collaboration.

CLESTRA demountable panel system

Our concepts are focused on flexibility and wall integrations (AV equipment, fabric boards, white boards, iPad, cantilever tables, etc.). As verticality nowadays is a key strength within the office space, I believe CLESTRA partitions will have a more and more important role to play in that aspect.

CLESTRA’s solid and glazed demountable partition system

Are you able to tell us something that not many people may know about CLESTRA?

We also have strong expertise in other fields such as Cleanrooms, Hospital Partitions, Radiant Ceiling (with Parkview Green project in Beijing as a main reference), Wall Cladding for MRT stations and airports, and POD Concepts. Hopefully many people will read this article and get in touch with us for more information about our products in these fields!



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