咖啡店生意好，其中一个原因和所售卖的食物有关。一开始，武平便和买西餐的Botak Jones合作参股，Botak Jones生意好，自然带动咖啡店的生意。双方在互惠互利的基础上合作，生意越做越好。不过，大约一年后，合约到期，店主眼见咖啡店生意好，要拿回来自己做，武平无奈被迫搬迁。这一搬，就搬到勿洛二道第412座组屋，也就是目前武平的其中一家咖啡店。
From a Construction Worker to a Coffeeshop Boss
A man of little words and some shyness, this is the first impression one would have of 46-year-old, Mr Shen Wu Peng. And those who have worked with him would vouch for that this quite man would deliver what he has promised.
Once, during a kayaking event which Mr and Mrs Shen participated, Mr Shen carried with some difficulties two loaded buckets from the carpark to the reservoir. Although Mr Shen did not mention what was inside the buckets, I was more or less aware of the content. I tried lifting up one of the buckets with both hands but failed. It was too heavy. The two buckets filled with cold drinks and ice were donated voluntarily by Mr Shen without any prior request.
Another occasion was at Bintan Island jetty when we were on our way back from a trip. Our Deputy Head of Property, Mr Ang Shiuh got a trolley to place his golf equipment and our luggage. Upon seeing Mr Shen carrying his golf equipment, we asked Mr Shen to put it down. However, Mr Shen rejected our offer, chose to carry his equipment as he was worried he would deprive us of placing our luggage on the trolley.
First group of mainland Chinese construction workers
Mr Shen left his parents in China to travel to Singapore in 1985 to work as a construction worker. He was among the first batch of Chinese construction workers. He was assigned to construct Simei flats after he arrived. Mr Shen, who was on a 2-year contract, had hoped to make enough money to return home to build houses.
Mr Shen’s contract expired in 1987. Back then, the relations between Chinese workers and their employers were not on good terms. Mr Shen thus decided to return to Tung Ann. Besides getting married, Mr Shen also started his work as a salesman for a firm based in Taiwan. His job required him to travel to the various places in the southern cities of China.
It was hard work. After working for three years, Mr Shen returned to Singapore in 1991. This time, he worked for another construction firm building Pasir Ris flats.
It was only until two years later that Mr Shen chanced on an opportunity to become a sub-contractor, producing concrete blocks. He was able to then convert his work permit from 2-year term to 3-year term. Soon after, Mr Shen was approved in his application as a Permanent Resident in Singapore.
Earning his first pot of gold as a PR
In 1994, Mr Shen became a main contractor producing pre-fabricated concrete blocks and other construction materials. His company Keyi Construction helped him earned his first pot of gold.
Mr Shen tried his hands in construction in 1998. He earned the contract to build student hostels for the National University of Singapore. In 2003, he also ventured into trading. He started importing sports shoes from China. However, he faced a credit crunch as most of his retailers did not pay up quick enough. Mr Shen soon decided to terminate his shoe business.
Not long after, Mr Shen tried out another trading business. This time, he imported leather bags each with a remote safety gadget from China and sold them in South Africa’s Nigeria. It was good business as every bag could fetch Mr Shen a profit 10 times of his cost. Besides luggage, batteries, tyres and solar heaters were among the items he traded. However, Mr Shen did not enjoy his profitable days for too long. After spending two months in Nigeria, Mr Shen decided to give it up as his safety in Nigeria posed a concern to his family.
Back in Singapore, Mr Shen continued with this construction business. He secured a contract to build a water recycling plant in Changi in 2003. Although Mr Shen delivered the plant without fail, he was unable to collect money owed as the construction sector fell into a crisis.
Having fought enough battle from the construction sector, Mr Shen decided to change path in 2005. On hearing that coffee shop business may be something worth doing, Mr Shen seized upon a chance to rent a coffee shop in Ang Mo Kio Ave 5, spending another S$50,000 in renovation. To many people, Mr Shen was mad. As all would have guessed that business at the coffee shop was never good. Besides, Mr Shen have not had any experience running a coffee shop. But Mr Shen proved them wrong.
To ensure brisk business, intuition tells Mr Shen that he has to offer not only delicious but food that is value for money. So for a start, Mr Shen co-operated with western food venture Botak Jones by investing in the business. Without a doubt, Botak Jones attracted many customers to the coffee shop. The good business lasted a year or so before the tenure expired. The landlord wanted to run the coffee shop on his own and ordered Mr Shen to move. Mr Shen had no choice but to move to one of its current location at Blk 412, Bedok Ave 2.
The other coffee shop runs by Mr Shen is at Depot Road industrial park. It has a capacity of 120 tables and it is one time larger than its Bedok counterpart. Its premises used to look old and deserted. Mr Shen then decided to invest S$200,000 to give it a facelift. As it offers a variety of food, not lacking Botak Jones, it is able to lure many customers as compared to its previous days.
Mr Shen admitted that he had no idea if his coffee shop business would pick up. All he had known was that he had some hard earned cash which he could invest without resorting to taking up loans from banks.
Mr Shen’s business acumen has been proven through time. When asked what business tips he could have shared, a humble Mr Shen only said he was lucky. When prompted further, he said interpersonal relation was important. So is it emotional quotient or EQ together with luck that makes a business shine? How about the good old virtue of diligence? I am sure Mr Shen does not lack this, not forgetting that he prefers to carry his golf equipment.
Written by : Lim Li Peng