Teo Chai Hock was born in 1970 in a small fishing village known as Kampong Teluk Jawa, Johor Bahru, which started as a settlement for the local orang asli and mainly a Fishing & Farming village with approximately 500 dwellers (mainly consisting of Chai Hock’s families and relatives) carrying out the businesses of fishing, prawning, farming and even a small primary school. Coming from a humble background – his father and mother worked in the fishing village and ran a restaurant – he acquired a strong desire to develop properties that can improve and inspire the lifestyle of individuals.
Since the early 1990s, Chai Hock and several village dwellers slowly transformed Kampong Teluk Jawa from an undeveloped village to a village accommodating around three to four seafood restaurants overlooking the Singapore skyline of Sembawang. At the young age of 18, his passion to venture into the real estate industry kicked off with his first purchase of a low cost residential with approximately RM25k with the help of his parents contributing to the down payment. By the age of 26, Chai Hock owned two residential, three commercial and one industrial unit which demonstrates his capability to excel in what he is determined to achieve.
Unfortunately, the Asian Financial Crisis struck in 1997/98 which resulted in the force selling of several of his properties to repay bank installments. But this setback didn’t prevent Chai Hock from giving up and over the next 10 years, he work effortlessly, taking up various jobs to accumulate back his savings in order to re-invest in properties. This time, his property investment vision was simple: To seek for strategic location with good population catchment. This philosophy of his paid off well, allowing him to swiftly acquire and sell over 15 properties in a short span of three to five years, hence gaining his wealth through these various transactions deals.
Chai Hock decided to dream bigger. His vision shifted from property investment to property development whereby he established Teras Eco Sdn Bhd on 4th October 2011 with the aim of developing a sustainable development portfolio, specializing mainly in lifestyle property developments, especially in the sector of Industrial, Commercial and Residential.
His slogan for his company was simply: Envisioning Your Future, Building Your Dreams – which was in tandem with his strong desire to develop properties that can improve the lifestyle of individuals as envisioned during his teenage years. Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength by acquiring over 80 acres of land banks within Iskandar Malaysia and Melaka within a one year period, with projected Gross Development Value exceeding the RM 1 billion mark. This allowed Chai Hock to be rewarded with Malaysia Most Impactful Award (Rising Star category) in 2014 whereby he dedicate his achievement to not only his belief and vision but also to the team he has built up within the Teras Eco Group.
Since its incorporation, the Company has been focusing on several prime land acquisitions, primarily in Central and East of Iskandar Malaysia and the State of Melaka. To date, Teras Eco Group have acquired more than 14 parcels of land (measuring approximately 80 acres) primarily in the State of Johor (Iskandar Malaysia) and Melaka with total projected GDV of more than RM1 billion, expected to be developed over the next five years.
Due to rapid growth, Teras Eco Group has been expanded to include wholly owned subsidiaries to manage the provision of Infrastructure, Construction, Trading, and Marketing & Hospitality – which include the managing of a 50-room historical hotel in Kluang known as Merdeka Hotel.
With its strong commitment to quality as well as the dynamic and result oriented approach, the company is committed to present its products in modern façade located in prime location surrounded by excellent infrastructure and amenities; hence eventually improving property resale value. This will be further enhanced with emphasis on incorporating the latest Green technology and construction methodology that emphasizes on the Green and earth-saving architectural design concept.
Today, the company has already fully sold out its non-bumi units of its maiden project known as Senibong 88 – an Entrepreneur Hub comprising of 45 units. This strong sales demand was not only attributed to the strategic location but also the innovative concept and ideas as envisioned by Chai Hock, by bringing in Commercial elements into Industrial Space – known as ‘Commdustrial’ as invented by Chai Hock.
With this success in hand, Chai Hock is expected to go on to launch a few more projects in the coming months, emphasising on creating a story for buyers that focus on Sustainability.
Like all entrepreneurs, Chai Hock himself has a vision for the company and has big plans and dreams to grow and take the company to greater heights. However, one key attribute of Chai Hock is his emphasize on Team Work. He often believes that it is the people talent that he has that builds the brand and not the brand that builds the people. As such, since the incorporation of the company, Chai Hock has gone out personally to hire individuals whom he has come across over his walks of life that have the good working attitude to learn and work as a team.
Chai Hock shares that “a good employee must be willing to learn. As such it is alright if an employee is without much experience, because the key is the attitude and willingness to learn that can drive the growth of the company.” As such, Chai Hock has given many opportunities to individuals who do not have construction or development background to join him and instead prefer to guide and groom these individuals to become someone of value to the company and society. He also often guides the Team heads to inspire their respective team members so that the whole team gets motivated at work which will indirectly result in better productivity and efficiency.
His determination and focus allows him to make the impossible, possible. As such, whenever people tell him that a task is ‘impossible’, he will turn the word around to become “I’m Possible”.
During his free time, Chai Hock is also actively involved in sports such as badminton and marathons, which not only allow him to maintain a healthy lifestyle but also to train up his mind set and work on his determination and ‘never-give-up’ spirit.
A successful entrepreneur is measured not just by the money he has, but also by how much responsibility he takes for society. This principle of Chai Hock have seen him done various charities including the funding for the re-locating and construction of the primary school in Kampong Teluk Jawa to Megah Ria which currently provides the much needed education to the matured population catchment of East Iskandar, Johor Bahru. He is also actively involved in giving back to the community by often attending charity dinners and events. In the recent Kelatan flood situation, Chai Hock even organised a bus to travel to Kelantan with over 20 people to help clean up the flood-affected buildings. His passion doesn’t stop there and he is often seen donating to schools, old folk’s homes and children with disabilities.
His vision is to continue to envision the future and develop the dreams of people. “If life doesn’t have challenges, then there is no meaning to Life,” shares Mr Teo.