Mr Choong Kar Weng was only 28 years old when he took up the responsibility to start a new business retailing curtains. It was a management decision made by his parents and uncles to diversify their business right after the Asian Financial Crisis. Choong’s parents and his uncles were then running their haberdashery wholesale business when he saw an opportunity to branch out into retail. The idea of retailing curtains and soft furnishings came as he noticed that there was a branding gap. At that time, not many people could give a retail store brand when asked where they purchased their curtains. This led Choong to start Macy Home Furnishings, a company retailing curtains and soft furnishings, and to establish a retail name that people would remember when they think of curtains.
Macy Home Furnishings was founded in 2000 retailing home furnishings products. As a one-stop home furnishing store, Macy Home Furnishings provides a comprehensive range of curtains, furniture, beddings and home accessories with value added services which provide convenience to customers when furnishing their homes. Over the years under Choong’s leadership, Macy Home Furnishings has won several coveted awards in the retail industry. It has also become a household name for furniture and curtains. Always on the push for innovations in retailing, Macy Home Furnishings provides a toll-free “Dial-A-Curtain” for customers, automated the order taking process of custom made curtains and allows unlimited combinations to custom made sofa.
The almost two decades of diligence and perseverance working in his family business have not been easy. Each day arrives with a new challenge which Choong persists to see the positive in everything – not so much a problem or crisis, but a challenge and an opportunity. When he started Macy Home Furnishings, he didn’t have any experience in the retail industry and the products. As the story goes, just one hour before the official opening of its first retail store in Seri Kembangan, Choong and his staff started learning how to sell curtain fabrics and noting down the technical formula. Customers were already queuing up outside the store, waiting for the doors to be opened! Every staff, including Choong had to roll up their sleeves to carry bales of fabrics to ready the store for opening. Choong recalls he having to carry a ruler and scissors in hand, measuring and cutting fabric.
From his beginning, you would presume that his entrepreneurship is genetic. His parents and uncles had a ‘rags to riches’ story, establishing Minlon Group since 1969 by their sheer hard work of labor and entrepreneurial spirit. Choong, however during his academic years, has set his eyes on becoming a judge, having been trained as a lawyer. He graduated with a Law degree from University of Leeds and was called to The Bar in London and the Singapore Bar. Before his return to Malaysia, he felt God’s calling for him to be a businessman. At that time, he recognized his lack of experience in running a business. Thus, he enrolled into the University of Louisville to complete the Master of Business Administration degree majoring in Entrepreneurship.
Choong is currently the Managing Director of the Minlon Group which is the holding company for retail and property companies. Under the Retail division, besides expanding Macy Home Furnishings into a retail chain in the Klang Valley, Choong further ventured into luxury home furnishings retailing using the brand name Macsk. Macsk has been established in 3 countries – Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia and retails top of the range home furnishing brands like Armani Dada, Fundi, Molten & C, Lazio, LouisPoulsen. Additionally, Choong is planning for Minlon Land, the property development arm of the Group which was established since 1979, to develop both residential and commercial properties in the near future. Its projects are all devoted to the same standards of innovation to provide market value to its buyers.
Over the years, Macy Home Furnishings has won various awards, including Superbrands Malaysia 2005, Superbrands Consumers Choice Malaysia 2006, The Brand Laureate SMEs Best Brands in Asia Pacific – Retail Fabrics & Soft Furnishings 2007 and 2008. Personally, Choong has been recognized for his achievements with the Malaysia Tatler Entrepreneur Par Excellence Award 2010 and the Top Ten Economic Talents 2011 in Beijing.
Choong works by his motto ‘The miracle is always in the house’. He believes that the solution to any problem stems from what we already have. Working with a mentality that an answer will always be within reach not only guides his decisions but motivates him to keep pressing on. And most of the times, the answer is found in his team of brilliant and hardworking staff. With their minds hardwired in positivity, Choong credits them for giving ‘hands and legs’ to his visions and dreams. Choong, together with his team, upholds the values of integrity, respect and positive attitude in the business.
‘Impacting Society, Influencing Policies’ – Choong’s vision for the future of his business consists of emphasizing the positive impact that businesses must have on societies. The need to positively influence policies which may affect the wellbeing of societies and communities should be included in the vision or mission statement of a business organization. Profitability to a business organization is a necessity but to Choong, a business organization should have a bigger purpose than just making profits. Minlon Group has started many initiatives to give back to society such as raising funds for earthquake victims, refurbishing orphanages and sponsoring and organizing events at orphanages and the WAO (Women’s Aid Organization).
With this vision in his heart, Choong is continuing the expansion plans for the Minlon Group at a blistering pace. The future will continue to have its many ups and downs, successes and failures, opportunities and challenges. Choong visibly lives by a nursery rhyme words of wisdom – “Life will always have its ups and downs. When you are up, don’t be too up. When you are down, don’t be too down”. This also helps Choong to stay rooted in his Christian beliefs and personal values. The seed of advice that he plants with this is “Stay true to yourself.’ Don’t forget where you came from. As you watch and harness the growth of your company, never forget the roots of which it was built upon.”