As a kid, I helped out at my father’s fishball stall in Chinatown. It was especially busy during the Chinese New Year festive season, where I would be busy cleaning and clearing tables while the other workers would be stacking bowls and bowls of hot noodles on their arms, weaving through the crowd and delivering food to the customers. Even today, I still cannot forget the scene.
Now, as the director of Ming Fa Fishball, I manage 9 retail outlets islandwide, 2 factories and about 50 staff. We started small, but we pulled through all the challenges over time and i’m very honoured to be able to take over the rein of this traditional brand which many locals are familiar with.
I believe in preserving the traditional taste of the food and yet keeping up-to-date to the ever-changing environment.
What excites you most about your industry?
1.The endless room for creativity one can put into food menu.
- The customer satisfaction, as reflected on their faces.
- And also, my love for FOOD!
What’s your connection to Asia?
We are a company based in Singapore, and have both retail outlets and a manufacturing arm. Our management team will occasionally travel around Asia to explore new ideas and learn from others, thereby constantly improving not only the existing menu but also create new, exciting dishes for our customers.
We are recently also honoured to be invited by OPCO from Jakarta to jointly organised a one month-long Singapore Food Festival in one of their restaurants and was glad that the food was well-received and the event was a success.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore. Best place for business due to its well regulated business environment, regardless in term of legal, taxes and corporate governance. Singapore government is very supportive of Small Medium Enterprise (SMEs) like us and is always there to give a helping hand. This is proven by the recent productivity initiatives that the government has been rolling out over the years.
In addition, Singaporean’s love to eat, which means there still room for us to grow.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever receive?
There is a lot of advice from fellow business veterans and friends. Perhaps the best is. “Be bold and yet be meticulous in everything you do.”
Set clear and precise goals, do your groundwork, move forward and do not look back.
Who inspires you?
I am very inspired by people who build their business empire from scratch. I believe there are a lot of successful businessmen around the world who fit this criteria and who are inspirational figures for us.
However, amongst the people who are close to me, I must say I am inspired by my dad. It was not easy for him to provide for our whole family by being a hawker, selling fishballs. Even today, he will always be there without fail to advise and inspire me, be it for business or my personal life.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Recently, I have ventured into healthy food. I was speaking to some chefs about how we design our menu and I was totally blown away by the technological advancement in food preparation today.
The science that is used in preparing the consistency and quality taste of the food. The equipment that is being used to overcome the problems in our labor intensive Food & Beverage sector. This industry never fails to fascinate me.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have stopped wasting time and set clearer goals earlier in life.
And also to start a business earlier.
How do you unwind?
I unwind by meeting up with friends occasionally, be it at a party or a chilling session. It helps to get my mind off work while catching up with friends.
I also do love to read books and news, to keep myself updated to the current trends.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan. Simply love the attitude of Taiwanese people especially in their service sector.They take pride in serving people and I always think how great it would be if our Singapore F&B sector scene would have the same culture as theirs.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“ The Power Of Habit” – This book allows us to explore being more productive and understand how habits work. I think it is of utmost importance and it will transform our businesses, our communities and our lives.
Come and check us out: http://www.mingfafishball.com/ then come and enjoy our food.
This interview is part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur: