LIFE is short and laughter is the best medicine.
So when customers and suppliers joked to the staff of GST Group marketing manager Goh Chin Twan, they chummily chuckled along.
The cheeky banter began ever since the Goods and Services Tax, acronymed GST, was implemented.
“Sometimes, when my staff make phone calls and say they are from GST Group, the people on the other end of the line would get a shock and think my staff are calling from a government agency,” said Goh.
In truth, however, GST Group is about 40 years old and cultures more than 1,000 tonnes of premium fish such as grouper, snapper, pompano and cobia each year.
GST Group is also the only European Union compliant fish farm in Malaysia.
The company was started by Goh’s grandfather, Siong Tee, who is now 90, and the company was named after his initials.
“The Companies Commission had written to us early this year, requesting if we could change our company name.
“But we politely explained that we have been selling fish to Switzerland, the United States and Australia for many years.
“GST Group is a well-known brand among fish importers in these countries, and we don’t want to confuse clients by changing names,” said Goh.
GST Group sales staff have learnt to use the coincidence to their advantage.
“When we hold roadshows in Malaysian supermarkets to promote our fish, our shirts are good eye-grabbers.
“People stare at our company name and cannot resist asking. It helps us to start conversations and promote the value of our sustainable fish farms,” said senior business development executive Joey Ong.
Fresh fish, by the way, is GST-exempt.
As for their taste, chefs love it.
“Fish grown in floating sea cages are indistinguishable from wild fish. We frequently cook both wild and farmed fish to do taste comparisons and if fishes are grown in dependable farms, we can never tell the difference,” said Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa executive chef Lim Soon Leong.
Lim, Rasa Sayang’s chef de cuisine Matthias Tretbar and Golden Sands Resort Chinese chef Danny Tan dropped by GST Group’s farm yesterday to launch their resorts’ Rooted in Nature campaign that incorporates sustainable seafood and free-range chicken.
“Diners can identify Rooted in Nature menu items with a pea shoot logo printed beside the dish description.
“This means that these items meet one or more of the five guidelines of sustainable production,” said communications director for both resorts Suleiman Tunku Abdul Rahman.
The guidelines include local production, being pesticide-free, free-range livestock, organic and fair trade products.
“Three years ago, we have taken sharks’ fin out of our menu. Our next step now is to have sustainably produced food in 75% of our menus,” Suleiman said.