In this era of internet technology, the printing industry which was once developing well is now being forgotten and neglected. With the passage of time, this old industry is facing tough challenges. As the third generation to succeed the family’s printing business, Soon Wei is shouldering the responsibility to revolutionize his family business which has a long history, and to come up with expansion plans to adapt to the market!
Four years ago, Soon Wei left his job and decided to go back to his family business. His first impression of the printing industry at the beginning was that it was a very “outdated” industry. Currently, as the CEO for Art Printing Works (APW), he’s continuing with the mission to keep alive The Royal Press with 78 years of history, as well as leading the future growth of APW printing plant. His “never-give-up” spirit and efforts over the last four years have paid off well: APW printing plant established in 1952, used to be a printing bureau for a large number of graphic printings, has now transformed into a multi-recreation centre. While keeping the original office of art bureau, the new and old businesses go on simultaneously.
Meanwhile, in The Royal Press which is located at the Jonker Street, Malacca, there is going to be a museum to display classic type metals, traditional printing methods as well as traditional printing equipments This museum is going to provide the public an idea of what traditional printing culture is all about.
Q: How do you view the old industry’s survival and development? What does that mean to you?
A: To me, printing is indeed a very old industry, one that is gradually disappearing and declining. But despite this, the industry has unlimited potential and possibilities, provided it changes and revolutionizes itself. In this way, old values of this industry can be kept and its new attractive points can be developed. It is not necessary for us to totally deny and destroy everything from the past, but all we need to do is add new values. Besides protecting its historical value, of course I also need to care about a number of old employees.
Q: After you took over the business, how did you make changes to it while maintaining the old values?
A: The first step is always the most difficult one. After observing, I decided that I had to make basic changes to clean and tidy it up. We spent 14 months in total to recreate a new environment. After that, I went to different countries to get inspiration, to obtain ideas on how to transform an old industry into a new one. I separated the printing plant into parts and some are open for rent to the food and beverage industry and creative event organizers. At the moment, except for printing business, there are also a café, little park and activity area in APW, which is also a multi-recreation centre now. We strongly support education and arts and offer a platform for young artists to hold their exhibition there. We aim to fully utilize and develop APW!
Q: What is the biggest challenge in your career? What kind of obstacles and predicaments do you face in your role?
A: When I took over this business, there were many who didn’t understand my idea and concepts. Moreover, without sufficient capital, it was really difficult for me to overcome all the obstacles. After a while, I realized that sometimes the efforts I put in were not as rewarding as I expected it to be, and I became stronger with all these trials and errors.
Q: What to you are the criteria of a successful man?
A: Humbleness and a calm attitude in handling problems. A man needs to know that to be successful is something that you cannot achieve on your own. He needs opportunities and also the right people around him to encourage his success. So, a successful man need not only have a good reputation and capabilities, he also needs to have good social skills.
Q: What is your definition of success?
A: In everyone’s life journey, there must be ups and downs. It’s only after experiencing obstacles and challenges that we can grow and improve. When I achieve the ideal life I aim for of feeling peaceful and satisfied and in a stable condition, that is my definition for success.
Q: Then, what do you think is the secret to success?
A: One needs to know the art of listening. Listen to others’ suggestions and opinions, manage one’s ego, and try to filter the messages and absorb them.
Q: What are your hobbies?
A: Reading books of different topics as well as playing badminton.
Q: What is the most precious thing in your life?
A: Firstly, time is precious to me. Besides using time efficiently, I do appreciate a lot of my “me time”. Secondly, health is precious too. I follow a balanced and nutritious diet.
Q: Are you satisfied with your current life situation? What is your hope for the future?
A: If 10 is the highest score for this question, then I will rate 8 for my situation now. Regardless of life or career, I am quite happy and satisfied. Ever since I took over the family business, I noticed how much I have grown, I am emotionally calmer and mentally more mature. This is good for me.