SCALING GREATER HEIGHTS
"Overcome challenges by turning adversity into opportunities"
When Grace Wong first entered the gas industry in the 1980s, she was stepping into unfamiliar territory but her interest and passion for this sector quickly became apparent. “I knew nothing about gases but my husband saw that I was capable in my work, so he roped me in to help with his business,” she recalls. Seizing every opportunity to acquire knowledge and experience, Wong familiarised herself with the industry’s trends, products and customer needs and requirements. In a very short time, her determination and persistence paid off, because she was leading Sealico Gas Energy as the company’s director with vigour and conviction.
The following years, however, saw a general decline in the oil and gas industry, a problem exacerbated by the weak economic climate. Facing stiff competition but with the foresight to secure better prospects for the company, Wong felt compelled to look for alternatives so that the company could weather the storm. Her search for a solution took her to Indonesia, where several companies from various industries had started to set up offices and facilities. Instantly identifying the potential in the market, she made inroads into Batam by establishing PT Bingas Manufacturing as a foreign investment company. Bingas’ own manufacturing and processing plant offers a range of speciality gases with full equipment and facilities to numerous industries, including the aerospace sector. “Although the company was set up in 1996, I went in much earlier to study the feasibility of the market,” says the 59-year-old, adding that the move turned out to be a sound decision that has paid off. Today, both Sealico and Bingas are ISO certified for their processes and products.
Emphasising the company’s promise of providing quality service, technical support, as well as maintaining good customer relations, Wong reiterates the need to define and implement a good corporate culture.
For now, Wong is considering the feasibility of venturing beyond Batam to other parts of Indonesia, namely Jakarta, Sumatra, Karimun and other parts of the Riau Islands. Growth, however, will be a measured and calculated process that depends on how the industry develops. “It is a matter of time and opportunity. We are also looking at Myanmar as a region with a lot of potential,” she says.
As Sealico and Bingas enjoy continued success, Wong endeavours to contribute to society in meaningful ways. For instance, the company actively organises and participates in charity drives. Wong also regularly makes outright donations in a personal capacity to needy families and institutions. “I think it’s more than just giving back to society,” she says. “If there is someone in need, we should, as fellow humans, offer help that stem from genuine, deep-seated sincerity and kindness.”
Wong’s eagerness to help extends to her business network — the entrepreneur enjoys sharing her experiences with fellow business people across all ages and fields.
There is no end to learning and self-discovery for her. From when she first started out in the speciality gas industry, Wong maintains to this day an open, inclusive mind, with her feet firmly on the ground and her sights set far ahead.
“Clichéd as it may sound, it is absolutely true that starting a business is hard, but sustaining it is harder,” Wong sums up. “But your courage and vision will see you through, as long as you are not afraid of failure. For without failure, there is no success.”