John Yong Lock Ping started his entrepreneurial journey from a very humble beginning. Growing up in a laid back town of Sibu, Sarawak, John had never been the one who shined academically in school. It was metamorphose when he took up an opportunity to further his studies overseas and the decision turned out to be vital to his career choice. Equipping himself with a Master in Civil Engineering with honors from University of Exeter, UK, John managed to secure his entry pass into the construction and property development industry.
Upon finishing his studies, John returned to Malaysia to start his career as a site engineer in Kuala Lumpur. Being a fresh graduate with no working experience, John worked his way up by being very hands on with tasks assigned to him. His employer at that time was a very experienced contractor who set a good example for John that, a true leader not only knows the way, but he needs to go the way and show the way too. He still recalls those days he got his hands dirty under the hot tropical sun alongside other construction workers when Putrajaya was still a raw plantation land.
In 2005, John joined a Japanese owned international construction firm as a construction manager for KLIA extension work. At that time, John was one of the youngest construction managers in that project, supervising a team of engineers and construction experts. Trained under a very disciplined Japanese working culture, John learned to undertake his responsibility seriously. “Working with the Japanese is never a fairytale”, he says jokingly.
John’s first property development experience started when he left his high paying job to take up an opportunity to set up a property development company to undertake a development project in Tawau, Sabah in 2007. With very limited resources and local contacts in this ‘foreign state’, it was a tough beginning for John to undertake the all‐rounder role, which for John turned out to be a great entrepreneurial experience. “It all started from scratch, nothing comes easy…” John cited. Because of this experience, John realized that he needed to sharpen his entrepreneurial skills and pursue his knowledge in finance and management to complement his technical know‐how in this industry. He enrolled himself into a MBA course with all his savings and successfully completed his study from University of South Australia in 2010. “The world is changing so fast that what we learn today might be outdated by tomorrow, therefore we should never stop learning to update (boost) our knowledge”, John says.
Today, John is the Managing Director of Instarmac Development Sdn Bhd, a fast growing property development firm in his home state of Sarawak which he co‐founded in 2009. “We feel it’s about time to give a new breath to Sarawak property industry because the products being offered in the real estate industry for the past decades has lacked excitement. We spotted the need for quality and carefully designed properties in the State, therefore we are here to fill the gap,” John replied when asked about the decision to return to Sarawak after spending the majority part of his career outside the State.
During the early days, Instarmac experienced a difficult time trying to break into the highly “conservative” property market in Kuching. As a new comer into the industry, John knew that he needed to accumulate a good business track record in order to build up a reputable brand, which the public would be confident with. “Trying to sell a house to a stranger is a very challenging task when they don’t know you and your company even though the
product is very well designed and comes with great value. What we did was let our works and products speak for us and this proved to people that we could really deliver what we promised. I always believe that entrepreneurship is not a smooth sailing journey, the price for success is hard work,” John says.
Through their hard work over the years, Instarmac managed to build its brand and reputation as a developer who delivers quality products which has led to the company’s triple digits percentage growth in revenue in the past few years. Instarmac is now one of the fastest growing property developers in the state and a notable force in the real estate industry. Living true to their tagline “Beyond Building”, Instarmac is not only about constructing properties, they are building sustainable and long lasting relationships with their clients and stakeholders.
“We started small and we intentionally remained “small” and close knitted. At the moment we are only doing one site at a time because we want to stay focused on doing what we do best in crafting a niche and well thought property. I am very grateful for having a group of dedicated and talented co‐workers who share the same vision in providing quality and meaningful living to the lives that we’ve touched. We want to build our success on a solid foundation then only we will embark on our expansion to have our presence beyond Borneo and outside Malaysia,” John cited when asked about what he wishes to achieve in future.
The Instarmac team is currently working on another exciting site in the cat city. It will be a mixed development with an authentic, people‐centric place surrounded by plentiful gardens, sprawling parks and Kuching’s first rooftop performing arts centre. As a performance art lover, John believes the art centre will be a meeting point for all the performing talents in Sarawak to express themselves.
John believes in giving back to the society. Despite his busy schedule he actively participates in Habitat for Humanity, a non‐government organization in providing housing assistance to under‐privileged groups and families in Sarawak. “Helping needy people to repair and making extensions to their homes has provided me an avenue to practice my skillset in a more meaningful way,” he says.