“I STARTED MY FIRST JOB at age seven,” says Mr Avin Ong, CEO (pictured right) of the Fredley Group of Companies that has the franchise rights for Macao Imperial Tea in the Philippines. “We were very poor, so I sold fruit shakes at the wet market. My childhood was spent either at school, working for myself, or working for my family. What this did was instil a good work ethic in me,” he says “I visit branches weekly and try out different products and services as a customer”
Growing up, Mr Ong was looking for a business idea that would incorporate his education and work experiences. “I’m a real foodie, so during dinner one night I said, ‘Why don’t we start our own restaurant and I’ll run it.’” The next day he started his own business. “Taking risks is my mantra and taking the first step is critical,” says the man who now heads up five food businesses.
He takes a handson approach to keep these businesses top-notch and to better understand and support customers and employees. “I visit branches weekly and try out different products and services as a customer. I talk to everyone – managers, servers, dish washers and customers – for insights and challenges regarding the business. We put aside job titles and talk honestly and openly without judgement. All of this helps in understanding each other and growing the business as well as the individual employee.”
“It’s a very unique and special culture,” says Mr Ong.