Through his work in the hospitality sector Elvin Chong realised there was a gap in the market for bespoke mattresses, so he set about filling the gap!
What’s your story?
I was in the banking and finance industry for 10 years, then I moved into the hospitality industry, where I was a regional sales manager before rising to become General Manager (Hospitality) for Serta International, one of the top three market leaders developing and supplying high-end consumer and international hotel mattresses in Asia. It was during this time that I realised a gap in the industry – the majority of consumers were not sufficiently educated on the importance of sleep health and I was therefore inspired to start LMG, building the brand with education and integrity in mind.
What excites you most about your industry?
Many people have misconceptions of sleep myths, for instance, they assume that a firm mattress is a good mattress for those with back problems. As such, what excites me the most is the unexplored market gap that exists in this industry – the knowledge on elevating one’s sleep experience, which is what LMG specialises in. We ensure that consumers are able to discern a good mattress for themselves, amidst the misrepresentation of products by merchants and sales people who tend to mislead consumers into making the wrong purchasing decisions through promotions that may not convert to actual cost savings.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
Despite the increasing cost of material, transport and labour, we still commonly see merchants using marketing tactics to lure consumers into believing that they are getting consumer savings through a 50 percent discount or a free bed frame upon purchase, when in fact, the selling prices had already been marked up by 50 percent. This is where LMG comes in: to educate the masses and provide genuine technical knowledge by conducting corporate sleep wellness talks, conducting lectures with polytechnics, and forming condo and Build to Order (BTO) group buys for the middle-high market segments.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
Due to work requirements, I have had the opportunity to travel and stay in many top hotels and visit major bedding stores, factories and trade events in various countries. As such, I acquired lots of technical knowledge and learnt about trends and production systems compared to furniture merchants who operated their retail shops only in Singapore. This helped me to quickly identify genuine products with strong international presence and heritage from fake Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or local brands selling in large quantities at low cost, which is what distinguishes LMG from other mattress distributors in Singapore.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My first mentor advised that as long as I give my best in whatever I do and not be afraid to be the change agent, there will be people who will appreciate my integrity, patience and efforts. Since there is no regulatory body in the bedding industry to control what merchants can say or how products should be marketed to consumers, we must conduct our business with the highest level of integrity and professionalism. This pushed me to grow LMG to become an industry expert committed to elevating the sleep experience of, and understanding the making of, a mattress.
Who inspires you?
Our founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew. He fought really hard for Singapore to become the independent nation we are today and one of the best countries to live, study and work in. Singapore, despite being a small country, is widely recognised in over 160 countries today. This has inspired me to do the same for LMG. Not only do I want to provide the best for our customers, I also want to be able to make a difference for our consumers every day and positively impact their lives by providing them with an elevated sleep experience through LMG.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
Recently I read that Vietnam aims to build 130 new hotels (from 90 that was initially announced in 2020) and Thailand aims to complete 100 new hotel projects in the next 3 years. With more 4 to 5 star-rated hotels and resorts completing their construction during this span of time, there is no doubt that these two countries will be taking away a huge chunk of Singapore’s tourism business in the next 3 to 7 years. Some of these major hotels will also operate as integrated resorts i.e casino, malls, and entertainment facilities!
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
As cliché as it may sound, I would have started conducting sleep wellness talks and educational lectures with polytechnics earlier. Doing so has truly broadened my perspective on education, and it has been an eye-opening experience as I felt that I was not only able to contribute back to society by delivering genuine technical information to the masses and I played a significant role in educating them on sleep health. I was also able to pass on my knowledge to the like-minded, younger generation of students who are passionate about my line of work through educational talks.
How do you unwind?
I love spending time with my family and enjoy planning for short vacations with them. If time permits, I always strive to have family trips that last for at least 2 weeks each time so that I can fully recharge.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
I used to believe that your brand has to be the best for people to know who you are. Yet I came to realise over time that you don’t necessarily have to be the most popular or the best selling brand, as long as you create a niche that stands out, you will receive the recognition from those who know how to appreciate it, just like a luxury timepiece.
Everyone in business should read this book:
The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch. It is an excellent read as thought leaders are encouraged or reminded to achieve the highest efficiency with the least amount of resources. This has always served as a reminder to myself to put in 20% of my effort to generate 80% of output – basically achieving more with less.
Shameless plug for your business:
In LMG, we definitely do not conduct fake marketing promotions or apply hard sell tactics. Our team believes in investing time to educate and value add by sharing important tips that no one else in the industry can deliver. While our competitors aim to sell, we aim to educate, nurture the clients’ understanding and become a long term partner instead through gaining their trust, eventually turning our customers into our friends!
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.