KOTA KINABALU: The time has come for Sabahans to go global in the property and manufacturing industry.
The success story of Johnny Wong, a recipient of the prestigious Shareda Property Man of the Year award for 2018, has proven that even Sabahans can make it big in the international market.
As the managing director for the internationally renowned companies, W Group and the JSK Group, the 55-year-old has managed to expand his humble business as far as the European continent.
Johnny, son of renowned property mogul, the late Datuk Seri Panglima Wong Kwok, believes that Sabahans are more than capable.
“I believe that Sabahans can do it; it is not only the West Malaysians who can do it. All we need is the determination and perseverance,” he said.
He has come a long way in the private industry as he is currently the only Sabahan who has managed to expand to the international stage.
In advising young people who are thinking of venturing into the property industry, Johnny asserted that the sky is the limit for them.
“Do not think that you cannot do much. If I can do it, then you can do it as well. It all depends on your motivation and where you want to go. Even though along the way you will meet obstacles, always remember that there is nothing that cannot be resolved,” he said.
Johnny, who is also vice president of Shareda, added that the association has its own youth wing, which serves as an avenue for the young property players to learn more about the industry.
“Hopefully, one day they will take over. This is how life works,” he said.
Johnny revealed that his late father was the one who motivated him the most.
“I ventured into the property market because of father, and, of course, everyone knew that. My father, Datuk Wong Kwok, was actually my inspiration in the property sector. From then on, I believed that we must move in line with the needs of the market,” Johnny said.
His father was the one that taught him to always look for the needy people in the market.
Although his company has built an astonishing 23,842 apartments, he pointed out that each unit was sold at only around RM150,000 to RM200,000. This is because the company wanted to focus more on low-rise affordable housing.
“We do not go for condominiums. We do not just go for the small percentage of the market. We do not just build and make profit. We want to be a long-term developer,” Johnny said, stressing that ‘money is not everything’.
He said in business, one must always look at things in the long run and not merely settle for short-term business, even though the latter might generate income a lot quicker.
His father told him that it is okay for a businessman to ‘suffer’ in the beginning because in the end, you will reach your goal.
When asked whether his late father’s success had pressured him in any way, Johnny said that his father’s achievements had instead motivated him even more.
“He was so successful, and, of course, I would want to do something better. If I decide to do something that is lower than his standard, I would not feel challenged,” Johnny said.
Before one can venture into the property market, one must understand the needs of the market, especially those who are not that financially stable, Johnny advised.
This was the business mentality that he had adopted, ever since the retirement of his father.
“This gave me the passion to be in the property development industry of Kota Kinabalu. We do not just want to deliver an apartment, we want to deliver a home,” he said.
In 2007, his father’s company, Wong Kwok Group was re-branded as The W Group. Since then, Johnny has been instrumental in the advancement of the company.
With a workforce comprising 600 staff and a management team in Sabah, 300 staff on locations outside Sabah and a total of 1,100 workers, The W Group has achieved a monumental milestone in creating job opportunities in the property development industry.
He also advised young people of Sabah to venture into the manufacturing industry as he himself had enjoyed success in that field.
Johnny’s brainchild, the W Clay Industries, is currently the fifth largest manufacturer of bleaching earth in the world with factories and distribution services in Sandakan, Port Klang, Johor and other countries such as India and the Netherlands. It took him almost eight years to study the manufacturing industry.
In a bid to realise his dream of going further in the international industry, Johnny opted to form a new company called the JSK Group in 2013.
As the company’s managing director, Johnny has brought the same quality and professionalism that he has established in the W Group when he successfully expanded his business to the United Kingdom, Australia and China.