Wong Kee Wei
Managing director, Safetyware Sdn Bhd
After a year working as a software engineer in a multinational company, Wong Wei Kee found the work there quite routine. The fresh graduate wanted to do something more exciting on his own, and began to search for business ideas.
“I read about work accidents ...and I did research online on industrial safety products to help minimise such occurrences,” said the managing director of Safetyware Sdn Bhd, which deals with industrial safety products and equipment. It was from this nugget of information that Wong went on to set up the company in 2003.
“I started a small business with just two staff members, and it took us four months to get the first customer with an order of less than RM200,” said Wong, who did everything from accounts and sales to information technology.
His business has grown over the last nine years, and now he has a staff of over 60. The company’s safety products, which include safety shoes and fire suppression systems, are sold not only in Malaysia but also in 24 other countries including the US, the UK, Turkey, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Hong Kong.
Wong, who was born and raised on Penang Island, comes from a business-inclined family. His parents are also in business, and the family dinners always centre on business. His engineering background helps in critical thinking and improves his analytical skills.
Wong has already planned the growth of his business. “In the next few years, we plan to grow organically. We have plans to set upa new production plan for safety shoes, and have set up a new company in Singapore to promote our products.”
He said the company will focus on new subsidiaries in the next two years, and targets to get itself listed on the ACE Market of Bursa Malaysia in five years. The average age of the company’s staff members is 30 years.
Wong believes in giving back as much as possible to the community. Over the past few years, Safetyware has organised annual corporate social responsibility events, such as collecting and donating thousands of ringgit to the needy and holding a big scale charity food fair at the Auto City in Penang.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on Dec 3, 2012.