Anyone who has had the pleasure of becoming Datuk Kumar’s friend will know that he is a very private man. In a classic story of rags to riches, his is a case of the business neither handed to him nor one that needed a university degree to make him an entrepreneur. Born and bred in Ipoh, he learned as a young adult that he would have to make his way to the capital city of Kuala Lumpur if he wanted to make it in life. Being a passionate fighter by nature, he would relentlessly work towards what he sets his mind to do.
After finishing Form 5 at the Sultan Yusof School (SYS) in Batu Gajah, this young man embarked from his home on a solo journey to Kuala Lumpur in pursuit of his dream to become an accountant. He began studies in accountancy at the Stamford College and landed a job as an accountant. Shortly after, a series of fortunate events led him to join a logistics company, where he served as an accountant for seven years before diverging into other areas to develop his knowledge, such as marketing, operations and after sales service, to name a few. At the same time, he was still giving accountancy lectures three hours a night. These early experiences laid the foundation for him to further his career in large scale automotive shipping.
Seeing the passionate entrepreneur in him, his core employees from Able Shipping left the company together with him. Giga Shipping; Datuk Kumar’s second venture was initiated in 2001, with less than 10 employees who remained with the company till this very day. Recently celebrating its 15th anniversary, Giga Shipping remains as the Booking Agent for all customers wishing to move their automotive vehicles into Roll-On-Roll-Off vessels plying between the eastern and western ports of Malaysia.
Acknowledging the importance of having strong and reliable partnerships, Giga Shipping went into partnership with NYK in 2002 and with that, Strait Auto Logistics, the ship owning arm of the group was formed. Yamamizu Shipping & Neptune Reliance too, remains a crucial partner to the operations of the Group. Expanding its supply chain, Nexus Mega Carriers was bought over in 2008. At that point Nexus Mega Carriers owned a meagre 60 units of car carriers but today it operates with close to 150 car carriers of various types and motorcycle carriers in Peninsula Malaysia as well as Sarawak. The group also developed its customs clearance division in order to provide end to end services for customers. The addition of Nexus Mega Carriers brought forth part of a supply chain which enabled Giga Shipping to offer their customers land and ocean freight transport packages. In the same year, Giga Car Terminal operations was set up in Westport, Klang and continues to grow in volume and services offered. The Kota Kinabalu Car Terminal, focusing on inland transportation, was another business unit formalized in 2008. Since then, efforts have been spent developing terminal and land transport operations in East Malaysia.
In 1993, at the age of 32 years, an opportunity came for him to start his own company. It was then that he made the decision to leave the firm he was working in. That decision proved to be a turning point in his career path. It led to the establishment of Able Shipping Sdn. Bhd. which he started with a core team of young and enthusiastic men and women, sharing the same vision of success. They formed strategic relationships with customers based on trust and profits came slowly but surely.
Then came another crossroad in 2001, when Datuk Kumar left Able Shipping. It wasn’t an easy decision as he had toiled hard to build up the business. Nevertheless, in the true spirit of entrepreneurship, he forged on. His mission then was to look for a vessel and figure out a way to finance the purchase of the vessel. Believing that ‘change is the only constant’ and that one must adapt to the circumstances to survive changes, his departure paved the way for the establishment of the Giga Maritime Group.
In April 2016, Giga Shipping received its first award in the category of Best Niche Logistics Service Provider 2016, by Frost & Sullivan, a mark of recognition after close to 30 years in the automotive logistics industry. Giga Maritime Group today employs 400 employees of various races and recorded revenue of close to RM175 million for the year 2015. In the last two years, the group focused on developing its Information Technology platform, with its final goal of vehicle tracking and e-survey in the pipeline to go live by year end. Datuk Kumar is also Managing Director of Carnauba Autospa, the first professional car detailing centre which was established in Malaysia. He takes pride that all his companies were built on sound investments and strong foundations.
Datuk Kumar is principally a family man and this gives him the motivation and determination to better himself each day. In his younger days, he was a champion badminton player, winning a multitude of trophies. He has also completed two full marathons and three half marathons, he continues to incorporate running into his weekly health routine. Some of his hobbies include driving, golfing, photography and flying drones. He took up golfing only in 2012 but managed to accomplish a best net score of 66 a few weeks back in winning a tournament in Japan which consists of 16 flights. This is testament to his motto, ‘it’s never too late to learn something new’.
When he sets his mind on an endeavour, he dedicates a lot of effort into ensuring its success. He also places a lot of emphasis on time management, he is always punctual for a game or any appointment and expects project deadlines given out to employees to be met. He practises a ‘never give up’ attitude in work and life, which he subscribes to over the years despite the many obstacles that may have come by, from macroeconomic factors such as changes in the market forces, financial crisis, fluctuation in oil prices to microeconomic factors like employee transgressions and the trials of family life. He was awarded his Datukship in 2011. He very gracefully, balances between family, work and social activities.
Believing that his strength lies in his ability to navigate his emotions and energy and channel them into positive growth, he quotes from German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche who once said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”. For him, entrepreneurship is a skill that comes naturally and this has been proven by his ability to build an empire from scratch. A Chinese proverb, ‘Opportunity Seldom Knocks Twice’, hanging in his office, serves as a reminder that everything happens for a reason.