Image Credit: The Straits Times
(excerpt from Straits Times article by Choo Yun Ting, published April 19 2020 -https://www.straitstimes.com/business/invest/organic-food-firm-a-health-mission-not-just-a-business)
At 77, most people would be thinking about stepping away from their work commitments but retirement is not on the cards for health food entrepreneur Peter Lim. He regards his company, Nature’s Glory, as more a mission than a meal ticket and sees no reason to step away now.
His aim is to expand his organic food business, which now operates mainly as a distributor, into other areas such as production.
Mr Lim’s commitment to the firm he started in 1991 with a startup capital of $50,000 is heartfelt.
He quit his job as a business consultant to start what he felt would be a more meaningful career commitment for the second half of his life. Nature’s Glory is not just a business to him, he said, it is also a health mission.
He made the decision to start the firm after going on an organic food diet himself, but he carefully prepared the ground before he took what would be a life-changing step.
“Be prudent, do your research, think carefully and for the long term before you make your move,
do not over-commit your resources (and) work within your means,” he says.
Running his own business was not always a smooth-sailing affair for Mr Lim, whose wife is a human resources director. They have two children and seven grandchildren.
“My business almost folded within three years,” he says, adding that it took about 10 years
before the company broke even. “Back then, only the sick and old came to us, and I had to make sure the organic products were priced reasonably and accessible to them.
“Things have changed now. These days, people are taking good care of their health and are more mindful of what they eat,” he adds, noting that organic food has become more popular among the younger generation.
The investments he has made in the business are not just for himself, but also pave the way for his son Christopher, a microbiologist who joined the company in 1998 and now serves as its director of research and marketing. The firm’s next step is to move into organic farming and start selling its products overseas. “The Singapore organic food market is getting saturated,” Mr Lim notes.
Q What’s in your portfolio?
A: My equity investments gave me good returns to start my business in 1991. Initially, the business was focused on organic food products, but we have branched out over time to other organic products such as bath soaps and supplements.
I have invested some of the company’s funds into a commercial property unit at Mapex in Bishan. It is now used as our retail location. On top of that, I also bought a warehouse unit recently. I see it as a great investment for my business to grow, as warehouse storage is of core importance to distribution businesses. With this strategic move, I can manage my costs better and focus on growing the business.
Other than that, my main investment is always rolling cash back into the company so that I cut down on taking loans to keep debts low. To me, that’s a sound way to run a business – to grow profits and keep debts low.
Q What are your immediate investment plans?
A I believe strongly in investing for the long term, and for us that is about organic farming. Over the years, there has been an increase in awareness and more people are buying organic produce.
With the Covid-19 pandemic and countries shutting their borders, there has been a lot of conversation about Singapore becoming more self-sufficient with food supply.
I hope that we can look to becoming not just a distributor but also a producer of goods. With Singapore as our base, I want to be able to distribute our produce abroad and grow this business further.
Q What does money mean to you?
A To me, money is important but it is not everything. Health is something you cannot buy with money. I have been through both highs and lows – times when I could afford to buy property every year and the stresses of almost going bankrupt. My wish now is to ensure my products are priced fairly for customers.
To read more about the interview, go to https://www.straitstimes.com/business/invest/organic-food-firm-a-health-mission-not-just-a-business for the full article.