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SPECIAL FEATURE

Growing beyond the family business by diversifying

Kenneth Goi may hail from an entrepreneurial family but he has carved his own niche

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"My dad gave me lots of opportunities to learn the ropes. The Tee Yih Jia factory, where my parents built up the popiah skin business, was my playground. Being exposed to this kind of environment played a big role in developing my sense for business." - Kenneth Goi on his father, Sam Goi's, mentorship

KENNETH GOI WINS ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR AWARD

Kenneth Goi, Chief Operating Officer & Executive Director of GSH Corporation Limited, which is in the property development industry, has been awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year Award at this year's APEA Awards. "I'm deeply honoured to accept the award. The significance of this award goes beyond just me. First, I view this as recognition of the team-led efforts to build GSH Corporation into a premium property developer in the region. Everyone associated with GSH Corporation has a stake in this award," says Mr Goi.

He also feels that the honour has to be shared with two other men who have had a great impact on his life as their mentoring and vision shaped him into the entrepreneur that he is today.

"My dad gave me lots of opportunities to learn the ropes of business while growing up. In fact, the Tee Yih Jia factory, where my parents built up the popiah skin business, was my playground. Being exposed to this kind of environment played a big role in developing my sense for business.

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"The second person who had a huge impact on me was my grandfather - he taught me the importance of being a better human being, and to treat everyone with respect. The principles that I learnt from these two men continue to steer every decision that I make in life and business."

Mr Goi, 46, says that he is thankful for the opportunity to have grown up in a family of entrepreneurs. His grandfather came to Singapore from China and set up a business supplying provisions to coffee shops. His father, Sam Goi, as a young adult, started an engineering business when Singapore was industrialising. They both saw opportunities where others saw only risks.

"This was the start of the family's business philosophy. Ingrained with the same passion, hard work and determination, I too took the plunge in entrepreneurship when I founded Acelink Logistics in 2000," says the award winner.

After graduating with a degree in computer information system, Mr Goi joined the family business - the Tee Yih Jia Group (TYJ) in 1997. He spent about two years at TYJ, which included a stint at the company's production plant in China.

It was then that he realised that TYJ was on the path to maturity, and that he was in a protected environment. It was also the time he started to see new opportunities for business, and had an entrepreneurial urge to strike out on his own. He saw an opportunity in providing supply chain logistics, particularly for frozen and temperature controlled foods, and founded Acelink Logistics in 2000. Today, Acelink has carved a niche in third party cold chain logistics services, including cold chain warehousing and transportation, in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and China.

Mr Goi joined GSH in 2012, which was then a consumer distribution company. He was in the new management team that completely transformed the group, initially raising S$300 million, disposing of its legacy businesses and returning to profitability within a year. "I also played a key role in defining GSH's new property business blueprint and identifying premium property investment opportunities in prime locations," he says.

The Group's first acquisition was the Sutera Harbour Resort in Kota Kinabalu, which helped provide stable, recurrent income. GSH went on to venture into developing commercial and residential properties in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu.

The Group has built a reputation for being able to spot turnaround opportunities in selected key gateway cities in South-east Asia, by focusing on premium design and finishes. "As a result of GSH's team-led efforts to overhaul the business, the group has grown its market capitalisation to over S$700 million, compared to its S$20 million market capitalisation at the start of 2012," Mr Goi highlights.