David Yong has business in his blood. When he was young, he followed his father on work trips and observed the timber logging business his father built in Indochina. Fast forward 30 years, David has taken the lead and is diversifying his father’s company with a strong focus on the Indochina region under the corporate umbrella of Evergreen Assets Management. He believes that a business must always be relevant in order to survive, even if it has to embrace changes.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
KrASIA (Kr): How did your family enterprise start?
David Yong (DY): It began more than 30 years ago when my dad ventured to Myanmar to trade timber for his employer, Intraco. He subsequently started his own timber logging and teak trading business in Myanmar, and later expanded into Vietnam and Cambodia. As a teenager, I used to follow my dad on business trips to learn the ropes and observe. I joined the business in 2010 and Myanmar soon banned the export of raw timber logs in 2014. We had to diversify downstream into manufacturing semi-finished, and finished timber products. The crisis was very challenging, but with it came new ideas. With the network we had, we built financial and investment arms.
We now do SME financing in the Indochina market, especially in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. We tapped into cars and music, too, because I have a passion for them. We have a one-stop integrated service to cater for all automotive needs in Singapore. In terms of music and lifestyle, I’m doing some collaborations with Singaporean artists, and our South Korean counterparts.
Kr: What were your ambitions growing up? Did you plan to join the family business in 2010?
DY: I studied law in the UK. Even now, I am practicing as a lawyer in my own firm, YSL Legal. Before I came back home to Singapore, I already knew I was going to go back into the family business. Legal knowledge is a big plus, though. Business can be tricky when you don’t understand the legal side. Understanding law has helped me a lot.
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