Tropical's Tan – from government servant to successful businessman


BY ELAINE ANG

PERSUADING Datuk Tan Boon Pin to talk about himself and his company was no easy task. 

The chairman of the Tropical group of companies likes to keep a very low profile. After much cajoling, however, Tan starts to talk about both, albeit hesitantly, in a mixture of English and Hokkien.  

A simple man who started off as a tax assessor in the Income Tax Department in Ipoh in 1963, Tan said he had no intention of starting his own business, preferring to be an employee instead. 

Soon after, however, he was roped in to help in his father's wholesale rice business before buying over a partially completed fruit canning factory, thus starting his foray into the canning business. 

“I think my going into the canning business was God's will,” he told StarBiz

Thriving on challenges, Tan has turned the Tropical group into an international canned seafood manufacturer and very much a family venture, with Tan's two sons and two daughters involved in the business. 

“Running a business is a challenge and you need to push yourself to confront those challenges. I am a fighter and I will do whatever it takes to make it successful,” he said, adding that he derived much satisfaction from a successful venture - even more than making money out of it. 

Describing himself as a workaholic, he admits to being a very demanding boss. 

“I drive my staff very hard but I also appreciate those who do good work,” he stressed. 

Although in his late 60s, Tan does not look or act his age. In fact, he has the energy of a much younger man. Still very much involved in his business, Tan is very hands-on and knows every aspect of it. 

“I am the trouble-shooter and the strategist. I am also involved in marketing,” he noted. 

Always on the go, Tan's favourite thing to do in his free time is sleep, of which he admits he gets very little of. 

“I also travel a lot and spend most of my time overseas,” said the Penangite. 

Related Stories:Exports key to Tropical growth Tropical's Snappy Tom heading for Canada 

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