Monday, November 19, 2007

my background

the route for my trip.......

I have an elder sis, 4 yrs senior, married with 2 daughters. Mum and Dad was from the normal family. When they were young in the 1970s, mum was a bus driver for SBS. At that time u rarely see such young lady driver. She was about 22-24yrs old when driving the bus.

Dad since 7yrs old came to Singapore from china. He worked a lot during his childhood days. Only had his education till Primary 6. they have a dry sundry shop in clementi in 1978. till today the shop is there. Both of them are hawker operator.

When I was young, I played in the hawker centre. Im so called the hawker kid. Hdb playground was also my favorite. I went thro the normal education. PAP, clementi town primary school for 6 yrs, Tanglin Secondary School for 4 yrs. Ngee Ann Polytechnic Electrical engineering 1995-2003. I was the drum major in my secondary school band. During my poly days, I was also a young committee member of the concert band. My poly education was complicated! 6 modules to get my diploma but I was kicked out of the course in my 7th module! At that time I didn’t treat my studies seriously. I always hang out with my motorbike gang, went out late everyday, engross into bike touring in Malaysia, worked part time as a kitchen crew in a restaurant. Also, dad was involved in gambling and bookie. He was heavily in debt and left the house in dec 1996 or 1997, I couldn’t remember, without telling anyone about his plan. He flee to Malaysia. He left me and my mum in the house. I’m ok, but mum got to mend the shop everyday, got to deal with all the loan sharks sitting outside the shop everyday. Mum was very strong at that time. I looked upon her when dealing with troubles. She made use of the time in the night to work in the coffeeshop as a drink server.

When I was kicked out of my course, I worked half a year b4 I was enlisted into NS in 1999 june. I excelled well in my BMT but I couldn’t attached to be an officer because I have no diploma cert. pls view my letter to my platoon mate attached.

After ORD in june 2001, I worked aimlessly before I joined my former boss ( which is my mum’s brother, AKA my 3rd uncle) in the nursery. About oct 2001, my mum was dignosed with leukemia. Both sis and I were devastated.

In july 2002, I was being encouraged by my boss at that time to take back my diploma. then, he told me I can work part time in the nursery. Schedule was like morning 8-12 work, 1-5pm or 12-6 at school. Either, 8-12pm at school, 1230-630pm at work. There were no Saturday nights for me because Sunday I have to work. I also need to take care of my mum because I’m the only person living with her in the house. Sis took great part in bring mum to hospital, taking time off to be with her.

I saw mum fighting the cancer, she went thro kimo therapy. She was very brave. I had to look out for friends to donate blood to the hospital. A lot of my friends turned up. I am very touched.

My results were excellent in the poly! I was so lousy previously in my maths, which I got kicked out because of it. Now then, I scored 99%, in all the test, AD in my transcript. I topped the course in maths! Im very proud of my results. Wats more, my close friends that was studying together with me also got very good results. Im very glad. At that time, my classmates called me: gardener or contractor or PCK because everyone in the poly had funky dresses and clothes but I entered the lecture hall in my work attire. ( my dirty company shirt, green cargo pants, high cut safety boots).

Life goes on until the 2003 jan, dad came back to the house. In April 2003, I had my final exams. Mum was in her final stage. Night before my exam, she pass away in 3am. 19 april 2003. Sis and I got to arrange all documents, prepare the funeral. My feelings were so down. I only slept for an hour before I went for the exams. Thankfully, I got 75% results! It was the most difficult subject. I could have scored better.

Times were tough. I got to fight on. I was the head of the house as Dad did not have a proper job. I got to be responsible of everything. From repair, paying bills to cleaning the house. Luckily I had a very nice girlfriend, my wife now, to give me moral support. dad only collect rental from the stall he owes. About $200.00 goes into his pocket every month.

In early 2005, dad got a stroke in his brain. It adds burden to us. We engaged a maid to look after him for 6 months. Luckily, it was a minor stroke. He can work now. He is working as a cleaner in an office.

I wanted to look for more money and my passion. I started working part time after my work hours at 5pm. Over time at my company was only $5/hr flat rate. I bought myself a pruning scissors, rode my bike out to a customer house, recommended my a friend, start to do garden maintenance work everyday, 530pm to 730pm before it gets dark. EVERYDAY! I got more jobs then. Garden designs recommended by my neighbour, which her friend’s new house wanted to be built up. At that time I only have my motorbike. All I can carry with me is a small chankol and hand glove. I would find my own ways to get the materials to be transported to the site for installation. With that small chankol, I broke a few for that project because there were so much to plant and dig. My wife accompany me a few nights at the site while im doing the digging. The work last start from 530pm till 1030pm for a few days. I got bleeding blister on my palm.

More people enquired me about my garden maintenance services as I started to sub contract out to a few contractors to do my work. I was working with my uncle then. I started a current bank account, registered a business name called CSK Landscape services. CSK stands for Chua Siang Keng, my mum. It was purely to generate income from my subcontractors. They will do the job as I assigned while Im working full time selling plants. I may not be the only person in my uncle’s company doing such part time because some of my colleagues also uses the full time work hours to sell and collect lottery numbers, collecting soccer bets, trading collective birds and fishes and so on.

Dad saw my check book from my bank being sent to the house. he informed my boss about it without discussing over it with me. He wanted to be a good man now because he still owes my boss $60k. I was kept in the dark about his move. Again, he disappoints me.

My uncle’s business was in landscape supply and wholesale of materials. He does no garden maintenance. After finding out that my part time business, he told me that it was a conflict of interest! There where many things that they trying to find fault in me. I just couldn’t believe it! I have been working very hard in the company for the past 4 n half years. My last drawn salary was $2010. I drew this salary only for a month. Before this it was $1850 for a few years, $1500 for 1yr plus, $1400 for one yr and $1200 for my first 3 months.

I started my business in 2006 July. My wife and I just got married in March 2006. We didn’t have time to go for honey moon. We didn’t have time to go part-tor. I was fighting for my future.

Setting up my nursery in lim chu kang lane 1 was not easy. It took me alone for 3-4 months to complete. I had to carry heavy load alone, in the rain and under extreme hot sun. The load was extremely big and heavy as I didn’t borrow any machinery from my landlord as they were very straight people. Nobody knows the hardship im going thro. In the ghost festival, I had to go back to nursery alone after midnight to load the plants for delivery in the next morning alone. There were no lights. I was timid… thinking of something standing out there looking at me. The place was dark and dogs were crying. I have to do it! The plants need to be sent! I cannot screw up my customer's work.

My business expanded from plant supply and wholesale, to garden maintenance, to design, construct and install, to tree consultancy. I am running the show alone. No partners. I had a lot of supportive customer thro out this journey. They had become good friends of mine and we went out drinking, chatting about our personal life, go traveling. They are more than a customer, they are my friends!

For my first year result I was very very very much satisfied. The sales volume is incredible! I couldn’t believe it when I asked my wife to do the accounting for me.

Further more, there is a big company want to join venture with me to set up nursery.
A famous Australian wanted me to be his Singapore liaison and wanted me to set up a shop with him in Singapore. A company that has establishment in 5 other countries located in Asia wanted to support me to set up a nursery beside my ex-boss nursery to challange him. (I told him I can’t because that ex-boss is my uncle. I cannot do such things). A Malaysia supplier wanted to join venture with me to set up a nursery in Singapore. A local government agency wanted to build a long term project with me. I REJECTED ALL. I told them I cannot do it because I’m leaving Singapore for this trip.

I see myself as a millionaire in 3 years time. The opportunity that I have in my business is so wide. I consider myself as a successful businessman. Customers, suppliers and contractors worked well with me. I start to sponsor book prize in a local polytechnic. The book prize named: Chua Siang Keng book prize. I wanted to do it because when I was in my poly days, times were tough. These little effort from my company gave encouragement to the award winners of my field of trade. I hope the spirit of my mum will encourage the prize winner in their life. Am I the youngest person to sponsor the book prize? It doesn’t bother me anymore.

Driving a Mercedes in 3 years time is a sure! But this is not I want in life. I want to stop my business now before it gets too big and more workers are working for me. 3 years down the road I want to have kids. 3 years down the road I may not be able to travel in a healthy condition. 3 years down I may have more money but im sure I would not be able to leave the company for such a trip. It’s time for me to see the world now!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i read about you onlin eand was very impressed with the trip. Then when i searched for the blog and read this page, i think i need to point out something. Since you are going to attract much interest from people all over the world, i think you should treat yourself as a representative of singapore. I suggest you get someone to look at your blogs and edit the english as people all around the world will be looking at this blog and thinking that the level of English in Singapore is so low. I think with your inspiring adventure, people will be using you to gauge Singapore and the citizens in every aspect and I sincerely hope that it wont be a case that Singaporeans themselves willfeel ashamed to look at your blog, thinking that you have bring out the wrong impression to people of other countries. thanks.