From finance to fishballs: The story of a third-generation business

|

 

Jerome Lim wants to keep his grandfather’s legacy alive by transforming the family business through technology.

The Chinese have a belief that wealth, which could also apply to family businesses, do not last beyond three generations. But that hasn’t discouraged Jerome Lim from taking over the reins of his family’s business, Ming Fa Fishball.

Established in 1946, Ming Fa Fishball is just 29 years shy of its 100th-year anniversary – a fact that has motivated Jerome to work even harder to bring the company into its platinum years.

“It’s not an easy task but it’s what drives me to make sure that we achieve our vision. It’s a challenge that I have gladly taken up,” the 31-year-old director says.

Jerome’s grandfather laid the building blocks of Ming Fa when he set up his shop along the Singapore River, where he would buy the freshest fish from merchants and start the tedious job of making fishballs by hand: filleting the fish, separating the bones and meat, and grinding the meat to make the fish paste.

The tradition of making their fishballs from 100 per cent fish meat without starch and preservatives became the brand’s unique value that separates Ming Fa Fishball from the competition.

Continuing the legacy

Jerome’s father, Lim Gek Meng, had been running the company for 44 years since he took over in 1973. It has never crossed Jerome’s mind to take over the business as he started his career as a financial advisor.

“It was around five years ago that I realised that the years are catching up with my father. That was when I had to make a decision: do we slowly scale down with the intention of closing our doors permanently or can I come in to help continue my grandfather’s and my father’s legacy?” he says.

It was the duty to his family and the determination to bring Ming Fa Fishball to new heights that compelled Jerome to leave the corporate world and support the family business.

A day in the life of Jerome

Jerome, who is a self-professed old soul, starts his day reading the newspapers with a cup of coffee in hand – a peaceful respite before the day’s obligations begin. His work day usually consists of meetings with suppliers and vendors, internal discussions with their central kitchen, and visits to their retail outlets.

As head of business development, Jerome is always looking ahead to steer the company into their vision but he’s also not afraid to get his hands dirty. He sometimes could be seen cooking noodles at their retail outlets and washing dishes, too!

“We’re an SME, and like most SMEs, we basically do everything. Teamwork is very important because you can achieve greater things when you work together as a team. You also always have to be open and humble and ready to learn from others,” he says.

Since Jerome took over, he has streamlined their management and logistics systems to improve efficiency, and more importantly, brought Ming Fa Fishball to the regional market.

He currently manages about 50 employees in both their retail outlets and the central kitchen. They also set up two franchise stores in Jakarta, Indonesia this year, with plans to open seven more outlets in Surabaya and Medan by the end of 2019.

Entering the digital era

Every generation brings a fresh take to the business, and one of Jerome’s contribution to Ming Fa Fishball’s legacy is expanding outside of Singapore and online.

“In today’s society, it’s a must to have an online presence. People must be able to find you online whenever and wherever they want, with just a click of a button. We want our customers to be able to buy our products at the comfort of their own homes,” he explains.

Ming Fa Fishball is new to Shoptiq but implementing and using it has been a smooth-sailing journey for them. “Shoptiq is really easy to use for a small business like us. They provide a lot of ready-to-use templates, which are all very professionally done. We also incur lower maintenance and transaction costs so it was a great help,” he adds.

With all these milestones under his belt, Jerome’s biggest goal is to see the business cross the 100-year mark and have the Ming Fa Fishball brand flying high in more countries in Southeast Asia.

 

Thinking of taking your business online like Ming Fa Fishball? Shoptiq allows you to create your online store easily with all the tools you need, from integrated logistics providers to connecting your store to leading marketplaces such as Lazada, Qoo10, Amazon and eBay. Start your 15 days free trial today.

The Chinese have a belief that wealth, which could also apply to family businesses, do not last beyond three generations. But that hasn’t discouraged Jerome Lim from taking over the reins of his family’s business, Ming Fa Fishball.

Established in 1946, Ming Fa Fishball is just 29 years shy of its 100th-year anniversary – a fact that has motivated Jerome to work even harder to bring the company into its platinum years." data-share-imageurl="https://www.shoptiq.com.sg/sites/default/files/1H6A0771%20%281%29.JPG">

Top