Qian Hu Corporation’s Kenny Yap - Business Insight - Canon Singapore

    Qian Hu Corporation’s Kenny Yap

    Qian Hu Corporation’s Kenny Yap

    Kenny Yap
    Executive Chairman, Qian Hu Corporation Limited

    “Long-term vision means thinking beyond two generations”

    At the age of seven, most people would not have a clue about what they’d want to do when they grow up. But Kenny Yap isn’t like most people.
    Nicknamed ‘The Fish’, the young Kenny was laughed at by his brothers for buying a goldfish with a broken tail. He simply ignored them and decided to give his own definition to a “good fish”.

    “No matter what kind of fish, as long as you like it, it’s a good fish,” Kenny explained. “Just like giving things my own definition, I knew that as I grew older, I wanted to do something that I could have full control over.” That was when the young Kenny Yap knew that being an entrepreneur was his calling.
    Despite this early epiphany, Kenny went to work for a bank upon returning from his studies in the US. His banking stint lasted less than three months.
    “I worked hard and got promoted within a short period of time, but I didn’t like having to work within rules and regulations, structures and values, and a corporate culture determined by others,” he said. “So after that experience, I knew I could not work for other people and needed to pursue my own dreams.”

    With the help of his father and uncle, Kenny started a fish farming business he named Qian Hu (Chinese for ‘thousand lakes’). It was an auspicious-sounding name, but, unfortunately, things didn’t always go according to plan.

    In 1989, a 3-day long downpour flooded their primitive earthen ponds and washed their guppies away. After that incident, they attempted to rear high-fin loaches. But unbeknownst to them, the fishes were susceptible to sudden vibrations and they all died as tanks were being built to hold them. “This incident was a very big setback and nearly bankrupted the company,” Kenny recalled.

    Despite those repeated setbacks, Qian Hu managed to get back on its feet quickly thanks to Kenny’s astute guidance and the company’s family-like culture. As Kenny explained, “I try to create a family-like environment in the company; one where we treasure loyalty and unity, where we fight for a common cause, and where we take care of each other.”

    This close-knit culture has allowed Qian Hu to pull through many a difficult time, and helped it make its mark on the world map. But a significant part of the company’s success has to be attributed to Kenny’s unwavering determination to run his business beyond two generations.
    “During your generation, you build a company and create a fundamental system,” he explained. “But you also have a duty to build a succession team, one that can run a better business that your current team of managers.”

    To Kenny, thinking big is thinking beyond your generation – not about how big your business can get in five or ten years. And as the business environment is constantly changing, a company must be able to adapt to new challenges accordingly. When asked how Qian Hu has adjusted to such changes, Kenny said, “We found that we had a business model that could incorporate a lot of activities within the industry. So apart from breeding ornamental fish, we started manufacturing and selling aquarium accessories and packaging as well.”

    “We integrated all these related activities and made it our business model. This was only possible because we started looking at the whole industry from the service point-of-view,” Kenny added.

    Like most entrepreneurs, Kenny has been through his share of setbacks. But he wouldn’t have had it any other way. “It’s through these mistakes that you gain experience. If you are smart, you can translate those experiences into wisdom,” he shared. “With this kind of never-say-die attitude, you can easily pull through any tough time.”

    Swimming through several lakes of difficulties has certainly seen Kenny Yap grow into the big fish that he is today. And together with his Qian Hu family, they’ve been able to meet whatever challenges the changing tides bring.