PAVING THE WAY FORWARD
More often than not in Malaysia, your parents would have told you ‘if you fail in school, you fail in life’ while growing up. But that is not always the case, just ask Dato’ CC Ngei, who through hard work, determination and drive to succeed has made him the successful businessman that he is today. His success story ironically begun with failure.
Back when it all first begun, when he was merely 12, his father collected left over mosaic discarded at construction sites to be used to tile up coffee shops. Dato’ CC used to help his dad clean these tiles in the swimming pool at home which was used to soak them for days to rid them off impurities. Few years down the road, Dato’ CC dropped out of high school after failing his Form 3 exams and joined his father in the tiling industry. At this point in time, his father had opened a tiling shop in Seri Kembangan.
It only seemed natural for him to join his father and venture further into the tiling industry. Unlike most bosses’ children who join family businesses, he did everything from cleaning bathrooms to sending tile stocks. Three years into it, his father opened yet another outlet in Serdang and put Dato’ CC in charge of running the outlet at the tender age of 19, and he continued there for another nine years, learning the traits of the business.
Before hitting the big 3-0, he realised it was a good time to start up a tile trading business as there was a growing demand for imported tiles from China and so he ventured out and opened a tiling business with a partner. Business was good and they supplied tiles throughout Malaysia to not only contractors and homeowners, but to tile businesses as well.
Towards the end of 2009, Dato’ CC decided to split ways with his business partner as his perspective of running a business changed. That was his turning point in his business life and the birth of Feruni Ceramiche.
It was no longer just about money, it was also how the business was run and the company’s role in making an impact. The ultimate purpose was delivering happiness, and he came up with four purposes in running Feruni to achieve just that, starting with cultivating talent internally by matching staff’s talent and passion with what they do to create leaders instead of followers. The office was even designed to be very conducive and comfortable for his colleagues – fully equipped with a gym, game room, and even a “talent stage”.
The second key purpose of the business is giving back to the community by setting aside 10 per cent of all profit for this very purpose. During the Nepal earthquake for instance, he worked together with his mentor Dato’ Michael Tio by posting on their Facebook pages that they will match the amount of every ringgit donated by people. Within two weeks, they managed to gather RM350,000. In addition to the usual donations and visits to nursing homes, he made it compulsory for all Feruni staff to spend a significant amount of hours with the community.
Transformation is the third purpose of the business, in terms of making the tiling industry exciting enough to attract the millennial to join them. He committed himself to conducting weekly Discover Feruni Tours and through these sessions, tries to change the mindset of how people view the tiling business. One of his more interesting recruits is an employee who was supposed to start her housemanship but instead she decided to join him and now uses her masters in psychology to cultivate talents within the company.
The last of four business purposes is the value-based organisation – how they can use their 10 core values to guide them as a company and empower colleagues instead of using the old rigid methods of policies. He knows that results can be achieved in many ways; however it needs to be achieved through the right way using the 10 core values.
To further show his determination and drive to succeed, he brushed up on his command of English by reading books and looking up each word in the dictionary. To date, his highest annual record is 42 books. These books range from any kind of topics depending on what he feels he needs more knowledge of. If at one point he feels he needs to know more about interior design for instance, he picks up books in the field and learns as much as he can.
When asked what he enjoys most or looks forward to at work, Dato’ CC says he always tries to find more ways to inspire people, starting with his own colleagues. He believes that “only when they are inspired to transform themselves can they help you transform the industry.” He very much agrees with Bill Hybels’ saying “Everyone wins when a leader gets better.” He recently even started a small group of 25 entrepreneurs called EGGS (E-equip yourself, G-growth, G-give back, S-sustainability) held every fortnightly on Monday evenings covering a range of topics from being better leaders to serving right values.
When it comes to the property outlook in the current economy, he advises, “Always buy within your means. Location and choice of developer is important too.” One of his preferred developers is Tropicana, a brand which he thinks projects a feeling of youthfulness and vibrancy. He believes Tropicana is committed in building a community and appreciates the effort and thought in construction. His favourite project is Tropicana Grande, as the building has movable parts to block the sunshine – an element which shows the developer’s consideration effort in planning ahead to provide a comfortable and pleasant living environment for its buyers.
Dato’ CC’s affinity for the Tropicana brand is due to the similarities between Feruni and Tropicana as both share the same values in improving the standards of living through innovative solutions. Like the developer, Feruni is dedicated in playing a role to create beautiful spaces and enhance the quality of living by bringing the world’s latest tile trends into Malaysian homes.