SOME people have grand dreams while others find it fitting to just fulfill a need.
Ahimsa Group Sdn Bhd general manager Andy Low Kia Heng believes that being useful will get you far and wide.
“I did not have any ambition and thought of just getting a job when my brother-in-law offered me the opportunity to work with him,” Low says.
Low joined his brother-in-law’s restaurant in 1992 when he was just 16 years old. School didn’t quite fit him and he needed a job to stay afloat.
Apart from providing him with employment, being related to the boss did little to push him up the ladder in the kitchen. He started off as a kitchen helper doing odd jobs and worked his way up.
“There are no shortcuts here, you simply learn to do everything and try to learn something along the way,” he says.
Getting an education in the kitchen is not easy and chefs are not known to mince their words.
One has to try to observe what the chefs are doing while being given more mundane jobs such as washing the plates and cutting the vegetables.
Just don’t break too many plates or cut your fingers in the process!
After three years of working at the restaurant, 6am till 11pm every other day, Low made it as a chef.
“We started with simple dishes, usually fried noodles and rice, and we serve the employees first before ‘graduating’ to serving customers,” Low says.
Along the way, Low’s brother-in-law trusted him to handle the business and gave him more roles to handle like sales, logistics and the manufacturing operations of the group.
When his brother-in-law retired from the business in 2013, Low was promoted to general manager.
Being competent in every part of the business, Low helps out wherever there is a shortage of manpower.
“These days, I mainly bring clients to the restaurants to enjoy a vegetarian dining experience but I am capable of doing what needs to be done whether it is in the factory or at the restaurant,” he says.
Just as the reins were handed over to him a few years ago, Low is also making preparations to hand the business over to someone else. Low is grooming new talents to take over the business.
“I want to retire too when the time comes. And that can only happen when there are capable people taking over the business,” he says.
Some of his relatives as well as his brother-in-law’s children work in the company every now and then to familiarise themselves with the business.
The next generation’s interest in the business is encouraging.
Low notes that his niece and nephew are keen to continue the family legacy; one will be furthering her studies in food science while the other will be travelling around the world to observe food trends.
They are also encouraged to seek employment outside to learn different best practices that can one day be implemented in the company. Low believes the younger generation stands to learn so much more from other companies, where they will be taught by people from different backgrounds and with different experiences.
“We want them to be exposed to the bigger world out there,” Low concludes.