Perhaps Chong’s vast experience in food and wine distribution appealed to his customers, or maybe it was his enthusiastic demeanor; a kind of serious schoolboy. Perhaps it was a combination of the two traits.
“We are grateful to the brands who initially believed in us. They are more than just business partners; they are friends, ”Chong said. “In order for us to continue to gain their support, we need to show that we are good enough to anticipate their needs for the market we represent. ”
A little forethought enabled Chong to enter the wine business in 1997.
After graduating with a civil engineering degree from the University of New South Wales, he was supposed to take over his father’s engineering business after returning to Malaysia, but then abandoned the project after deciding that “l ‘engineering just wasn’t for me’.
A friend who imported wines to Hong Kong introduced him to the wine business. Chong saw a good opportunity in the Malaysian market as no one was bringing good wines, especially French, at the time.
“The only wines available in Malaysia at the time were brands like Blue Nun, Black Tower and Jacob’s Creek, which were considered premium wines at the time,” he said.
Chong eventually sold the wine business. In 2002 Culina, a food and wine distributor in Singapore, approached him to manage their wine brands in Malaysia. He then moved to Singapore to take on a sales and marketing role at Culina, and eventually became its Managing Director, overseeing the company’s business units.