JEWELLER Datuk Ng Teck Fong, the executive chairman of Tomei Gold and Jewellery Corporation, may now run a company with an annual turnover of about RM150mil but he will never forget his humble beginnings in a small village in Malacca.
”I lost my father when I was four years old. I was the youngest in the family, with five brothers and five sisters. We all had to help our mother who was the sole breadwinner,” Ng recalls.
To survive, they made tofu (beancurd) and also reared pigs in their village at Kampung Bacang.
“With a tight budget, we were very careful with spending and the importance of savings and education was inculcated in us.’’
After completing his secondary education at Malacca Pay Fong High School, his brother sponsored him to study in Taiwan in 1962. He finished his studies in 1966, obtaining a degree in chemistry at Cheng Kung University.
“I wanted to study chemistry because I did well in the subject at High School,’’ said Ng, 66.
On his return, he worked as an executive secretary for a construction association based in Malacca for about a year. He then decided to move to Petaling Jaya to join the brother who had paid for his university education. At that time, his brother was running a small goldsmith shop.
With Ng’s academic knowledge and his brother’s skills at crafting gold jewellery that were well received, the business prospered and they began to open up outlets in Petaling Jaya and other parts of Kuala Lumpur.
“My knowledge in chemistry also helped in the mixing of alloys for gold and silver,’’ Ng says.
Being a leader in the industry, Ng served as the president of the Malaysian Goldsmiths and Jewellers Association for six years.
His leadership and global contact soared to new heights when he joined German goldsmiths.
In 1999, taking advantage of their 30 years of experience in the jewellery industry, Tomei Gold and Jewellery Holding ventured with German partners Eugen Schofer and C. Hafner to form Gemas Precious Metals Industries.
Ng’s German partners are the leading machine chain manufacturers in Germany and a major refining company providing plating services and semi-finished alloys to jewellery manufacturers in Europe.
The partnership was forged to combine the latest German technology with extensive business networks in Asia, Europe and the United States.
Through the partnership, says Ng, Tomei has become a leading gold manufacturer producing the latest state-of-the-art jewellery.
Ng has four children (two boys and two girls) who have been educated in fields that would help to develop the business further. They are in marketing, engineering, finance and business management.
“Overseen by our in-house designer and German jewellery designers, our collections are classic but trendy,” he says.
“At the same time, Tomei’s sales and manufacturing activities are planned and monitored closely by an Enterprise Resource Planning software system running on IBM platform.’’
In recognition of its cutting edge manufacturing and process technology, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has granted the company the Investment Tax Allowance, a special government tax incentive scheme for technology-based companies.
Ng is also active in social work and serves on the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zong) and Federation of Hakka Associations Malaysia as honorary president.
He is also adviser to the Federation of Goldsmiths and Jewellers Associations of Malaysia, the National SMI Consultative Centre, Kuala Lumpur, the Selangor Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Federation of Alumni Associations of Taiwan Universities Malaysia.
“In our effort to strive for good quality manufacturing practices and customer services, the company is working towards ISO 9001: 2000 recognition,’’ he says.
Currently, the company produces 150kg of jewellery (gold and silver) per month, of which 60% is exported to Dubai, Europe, Indonesia, India and Singapore.
To compete in international markets, it is also using the world’s leading Italian technology for its manufacturing at its industrial site off Klang Road.
“Soon, we will be producing chain in sheet forms. Tomei will also set up a specialised laboratory to further ensure the quality of our products. By then, the total production will be 250kg per month,’’ Ng says.
The company will celebrate its 35th anniversary in August this year.