Siblings follow in father's footsteps

  • Business
  • Monday, 26 May 2003

MUNCHY Food Industries general manager C.K. Tan and his brothers, whose father is Hwa Tai Food Industries founder Tan Hwa Teck, began working in a biscuit factory while still in primary school. 

“The factory was our playground,” C.K. told StarBiz.  

“We did light work there every school holiday, such as laying biscuits on the plates and delivering the products to the stores.” 

Today, C.K., his four brothers and one sister all work at Munchy Food, the family business in- volved in wafer and biscuit manufacturing. 

Hwa Teck sold off Hwa Tai Food in the mid-1990s, but the 66-year old still has a passion for biscuits and maintains an interest in his children’s business.  

Munch Food factory in Batu Pahat.

According to C.K., his father visits Munchy Food’s factory a few times a week. 

“My father has always been our hero. We really respect him very much. He can sacrifice everything for the children. Even up to today, he often gives his children a lot of counselling!” he commented with a smile. 

Hwa Teck may not have high academic qualification (he learned writing while working as a shopkeeper at a grocery store in his teens), but he cared much about his children’s education.  

“He was very tough on us when we were young. He beat you hard if you’re not good in terms of education.  

“He is a very disciplined man, but he is also a kind man who contributes a lot to the society.  

“That gives us a sense that we want to build a company that can do a lot for the society,” he said, adding that Munchy Food planned to provide scholarships. 

In fact, it was at the request of the family’s patriarch that C.K., then 24, cut short his working life in the United States and returned home to help manage Munchy Food, which was led by his two elder brothers. 

“My father is a very traditional Chinaman and he believes the children should be with the family business, so I came back and joined the company starting in the export department,” Tan said 

It appears to be a good move. Prior to C.K.’s return, exports accounted for only about 5% of the company’s turnover. Now they contribute about 30%. 

C.K., his four brothers and his sister are still close to their father.  

“Today, the brothers are all married but at our father’s request, we still live under the same roof. Over 20 people in the same house! We have a lot of respect for each other,” he said. 

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