Dia tak bersekolah tinggi dan bermula dengan hanya menjual popiah.
Kini Sam Goi, 62, bukan saja memiliki empayar perniagaan sejuk beku yang nilainya mencecah USD1.3 bilion, tetapi syarikatnya juga diiktiraf sebagai pembuat kulit popiah terbesar di dunia apabila kilangnya di Malaysia, China, Singapura dan Amerika Syarikat mengeluarkan 35 juta kulit popiah dalam masa sehari!
Semoga kisah kejayaannya boleh memberi inspirasi kepada kita semua di luar sana, selamat membaca:
Billionaire Sam Goi, 62, who makes his debut this year among Singapore’s richest, sits in a plush office in the Senoko industrial belt that’s decorated with antiques and rare Chinese paintings by masters like Wu Guanzhong and Fan Zhen.
On tony Nassim Road, the preferred address of Singapore’s uber-rich, Goi’s 50,000-square-foot mansion is even more opulent, filled as it is with his prized possessions: 17th-century baroque figurines and pâte de verre sculptures from Daum, among much else. Parked in his garage is his latest toy, the Lexus LFA supercar.
The good life has come to Goi (born Goi Seng Hui) through a business that seems more hawker-stand than haute cuisine: producing crepelike wraps that are used for spring rolls or popiahs, as they are called in Goi’s native Hokkien dialect. Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing, the flagship of his privately held frozen foods empire, with estimated revenues of $1.3 billion, is the world’s largest maker of popiah skins, producing 35 million pieces daily in factories in Singapore, China, Malaysia and the U.S.
Sold under its Spring Home brand, they can be found in Chinatowns in major cities around the world from San Francisco to Kolkata as well as China. Competitors have sprung up, but none matches Tee Yih Jia, which exports 90% of its production to 49 countries.
The Chinese from Goi’s native Fujian Province were the originators of popiahs and popularized what is essentially a healthful peasant food wherever they’ve resettled. Popiahs are stuffed with a mix that includes turnips, bean sprouts, lettuce, carrots–meats can be added, too–and eaten with hoisin sauce. From making just the skins, Goi’s company has expanded into making popiahs themselves and a range of other ready-to-eat items drawn from Asian cuisines, including roti paratha, Indian samosas, glutinous rice balls and prawn rolls.
“I’m a simple man who started in a small way with the humble popiah. But now we’ve gone far beyond that,” says Goi. “Sam has shown that with drive, passion and determination anything is possible. He’s a go-getter,” says his hotelier friend and fellow rich lister, Ow Chio Kiat, who chairs Stamford Land.
Goi is often cited by the government as an example of home-bred success for having built a global business from roots in the tiny island-state. “The ‘Made in Singapore’ stamp helps food exporters to market their goods overseas, and Tee Yih Jia has capitalized on that,” says Azlina Sulaiman, group director for lifestyle business, IE Singapore, the government’s international trade agency. Goi acknowledges that: “The strength of Singapore’s brand equity has opened doors around the world for me.” With his food interests and other holdings, notably in real estate, he debuts at No. 12 among Singapore’s richest, with a fortune estimated at $1.2 billion.
Food wasn’t a business that Goi set out to do. His father, Goi Koh Tong, a farmer in China’s Fujian province, came to Singapore when Goi was 6 years old. The family settled in Geylang, a seedy area known as Singapore’s red-light district, where his father opened a small grocery store. Goi and his three siblings lived in a one-room tenement, but “We were happy,” he recalls.
Goi dropped out of high school to help his father at the store. To escape the monotony, he started doing odd jobs at a mechanical repair shop where he discovered that he had a flair for fixing machines. In 1969, when he was 21, he persuaded his father to lend him $8,000 so he could start his own repair shop. In less than a year the business had to close for want of customers.