The Founder and Managing Director of Venthill Group, Simon Wong, truly believes that integrity and communication are of utmost importance in business. In a recent interview, he shares with Top 10 of Malaysia on how these core values and attributes have enabled him to develop his shipping and logistics business especially during these challenging times of climate change.
It’s uncommon for an Asian shipping company to own a bulk carrier, but Simon Wong successfully owned a DWCC-8600 MT vessel in 2012. Named as Rainbow Symphony, the cargo vessel was Wong’s greatest personal achievement in life thus far – a testament to the hard work that he had put into developing his shipping and logistics company, Venthill Group, for more than ten years.
Wong’s experience in the shipping and logistics industry began when he was nineteen years of age. After acquiring a couple of years of experience in the industry, he incorporated Venthill Sdn Bhd in 2002 when he was merely twenty-four years old. The company then was providing custom services in logistics, but eighteen years on, Wong had developed and expanded his business into six companies handling freight services, vessel chartering, bulk and project cargo, container haulage and open truck transportation, custom clearance, and warehousing storage and distribution.
Venthill Group has established itself as a one-stop solution for customers’ logistics needs, but Wong believes that his business is so much more than that.
“I strongly believe that integrity is very important in business. With integrity, comes reliability and authenticity, and that’s what customers want,” says the dynamic and enterprising Founder and Managing Director.
“Customers come and go, but we believe in long-term, sustainable business. With integrity and reliability, there’s sustainability in my business as well as in the customers’ businesses, and that creates loyalty,” says Wong.
The Managing Director also shares, “There are three things that I believe in building a strong business – acceptance and recognition, setting an example, and handling things peacefully and harmoniously.”
He emphasizes that one has to reflect upon one’s shortcomings and strive to be a better person on a daily basis in order to be accepted and recognised in business. “If staff, partners, suppliers and customers don’t accept you and recognise your work in the market, they won’t follow you.”
“Also, I don’t believe in stealing customers or quarrelling with people in order to be successful in business, unlike what you see on some TV drama series,” says Wong. “Success is not just sales – it’s the team that matters. For example, you can have a lot of sales, but if you don’t have a good team to sustain the high sales volumes, then you will not achieve success.”
Wong firmly believes in the value of teamwork and partnerships so much that he has a team of six partners whom he has invested in for the growth and expansion of his shipping and logistics business.
“By investing in your partners, your business will grow. With partnerships, everyone is able to enhance their abilities and capabilities. I provide leadership at the conceptual level, but business development and operations are further enhanced on a synergistic partnership platform,” says Wong.
“My six partners have the relevant experience in the shipping and logistics industry. Having partners in the business enables us to have a wider network and to achieve higher business volumes. Each partner is in charge of different areas of the business. This ensures that our foundation is strong and sustainable,” says Wong.
Over the past eighteen years, Venthill Group has successfully undertaken many projects covering the delivery of construction materials for mega infrastructure projects such as the Mass Rapid Transportation in Klang Valley, Kuala Terengganu Drawbridge, Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex in Johor and Pan-Borneo Highway in Sabah and Sarawak, just to name a few. The company has also provided logistics services for manufacturing plants, fiber glass factories and windmill turbines.
Additionally, Venthill became a licensed haulage and customs broker which enables the company to provide in-house customs clearance for the logistics supply chain. Along with warehousing storage and distribution services, the company is able to maintain competitive costs as most key functions are owned and operated within the company. “We are proud to have developed the business to the level in which we are able to deliver large projects. After so many years working in projects, we are now recognised by the market for this capability. All this is possible because of our business integrity,” says the Managing Director.
Apart from integrity, Wong advises that communication is equally critical especially in the present time when climate change is impacting the shipping and logistics industry.
“The biggest challenge in the shipping industry is climate change, and the challenge is expected to increase in the near future. Environmental bodies will put more pressure on shipping and logistics companies, and there will be tighter regulations, and more policies and procedures to manage the risks that come along with these challenges. And this will increase costs across the industry,” says Wong.
He adds, “So, communication is very important. We have to communicate well with our customers about the impact of climate change in the industry. We need to ensure that the customers fully understand the issues involved, so that they are able to make the necessary adjustments to their businesses in terms of strategy, pricing and risks.”
“For example, when the sea becomes rough due to climate change, we don’t want to run the risk of having an overweight or overturned vessel at sea. Sometimes the vessel gets grounded, so safety management procedures take priority. We have to explain to customers about these situations. Another example are oil companies that supply alternative fuel to vessels to reduce gas emissions into the environment. But this means higher costs, and customers need to understand the reasons behind the increased in costs,” says Wong.
The Managing Director reiterates, “When we communicate and explain this well to our customers, they see our integrity. With integrity, they accept and recognise us.”
Today, Wong feels that Venthill Group is standing as a good-sized company with seven business partnerships running well. While he and his partners are continuing to steer their companies to greater heights, the Managing Director is planning to focus intently on human capital development. “In the next nine to ten years, I want to invest in people especially my heads of department, so that they are equipped with good leadership skills and a solution-oriented mindset. I want to inspire, motivate and develop them to be creative in solving problems especially issues on environmental change and wastage. By doing this, they are able to serve our customers well, and they can contribute positive changes in themselves, our business and the overall society,” says Wong enthusiastically.
These core values and attributes, undoubtedly, will underpin the continuous growth and success of his company, but Wong stresses that such qualities are crucial in ensuring sustainability in any business.
“To start a business is good, but to sustain the business is more important. If you can sustain long enough in a business, it means that your character and attitude are leading you in the right path,” says the visionary entrepreneur.
In spite of his busy work schedule, Wong believes in a balanced lifestyle that keeps him happy and healthy. The secret in maintaining that balanced lifestyle is discipline.
“Have discipline in your time management. With discipline, you will have time for work as well as exercise and other interests. It’s simple and yet difficult, but I’ve managed to learn swimming, diving and to play the guitar during my free time,” says Wong with a big smile and a twinkle in his eye.