4 keys to building a successful business of 50 years

AS one of Malaysia’s top solution providers, Yik Bee Trading recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Established in 1970, it provides sourcing services, training, and engineering consultancy with a variety of industry divisions including power plants, oil and gas, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and many more.

But what gives Yik Bee its longevity and success throughout the many years? We decided to have a chat with Richard, who inherited Yik Bee, to find out.

Richard’s late father, Ong Seng Heng

Early Mentoring

Richard’s late father, Ong Seng Heng was an ambitious and driven businessman. In 1970, he started his own business, Aik Bee Trading—which later became Yik Bee Trading.

Richard joined the family business in 1990, where his father insisted that he started from the bottom, transitioning from shopkeeper to customer service, and then to sales representative.

With high expectations, Ong placed Richard under the mentorship of Ng. Under the wings of the company’s senior sales representative, Richard learned the ins and outs of sales.

But Ong wasn’t his only mentor—Richard also had the assistance of Yee, the senior for indoor sales, who helped Richard familiarise himself with the products and services of the business.

Despite the relationship ups and downs, as most fathers and sons would experience, Ong ensured that Richard understood what it meant to take over the family business.

The duo once travelled to Japan to pay courtesy to their Japanese suppliers, where Richard learned how to communicate effectively.

Ong also taught Richard how to calculate cost and profitability for business growth. So more than just the company, Richard inherited a strong foundation and a daring vision from his father.

Richard with his sister, Michelle

Team Synergy

Ever heard of the saying, ‘teamwork makes the dream work’? This well-known quote by John C. Maxwell isn’t far from the truth.

For the past 10 years, Richard has been working with his sister, Michelle. Though it wasn’t smooth sailing from the start, the siblings were quick to tap into each others’ strengths for the best work synergy.

While Michelle is tasked with internal operations, including administration, human resource, and finance, Richard champions the sales with his product and market knowledge.

And with different personalities, where Michelle is conservative while Richard is ambitious, the brother-sister team is able to keep each other grounded in every business decision. After all, their dreams are in sync as they both want the best for their company.

Richard visiting Schaeffler’s state-of-the-art plant plant in Vietnam
Awards & recognition by Schaeffler


Trust & Commitment

Schaeffler commenced its operations in Malaysia with one sales representative and two field service engineers and went on to building a strong business relationship with Yik Bee during the late 1980s.

But in business, keeping solid partnerships can be challenging. So how did Schaeffler and Yik Bee do it?

Schaeffler’s commitment to quality and stability was the foundation of their 40-year partnership. Throughout the years, both companies supported each other through every season.

Even after Ong’s passing, Schaeffler continued to give their full support as it was a challenging period of time for Richard. But more than business, the team in Schaeffler and Yik Bee built life-long friendships.

Ex-country manager, Bernard Low offered guidance and shared his expertise with Richard. He presented new ideas, such as setting up a training room and introducing tools, to provide more value to their customers. Through the sharing of knowledge, both companies saw an increase of sales by 30%.

With trust and commitment, Schaeffler is one of Yik Bee’s major principles. They provide training, while offering newly launched products, to help build Yik Bee and Schaeffler’s market share together.

Bonding together with employees on an annual company trip to Ho Chi Minh
Richard enjoying a meal together with his employees

Humble Leadership

Unlike different leaders who take over a company, Richard started from the very bottom of the command chain. With such experience, he truly understands and respects his employees—believing in being humble as he leads by example.

Richard also practices active listening as he gives room for his employees to share their views regardless of seniority.

At Yik Bee, the opinions of the employees matter. In fact, as many of the employees have been with Yik Bee for up to 15 years, they treat each other with respect just like a family.

True leadership is setting a good example, and Richard believes in being a leader who respects and cares for his team with genuine sincerity.

Every business is built on different pillars—Yik Bee is built on these four strong foundations that will continue to withstand all storms as the business grows and expands for many more years to come.

So if one is a new entrepreneur or looking to start a business, it doesn’t hurt to take a leaf out of Yik Bee’s book. – Jan 13, 2021

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