With a passion for business since young, James built and is now running his own business.
What’s your story?
I got started with manufacturing as a child when I traveled mainly in China with my parents who own a small textile business. Since my first two jobs handing product development, manufacturing and sales, I’ve grown to be passionate about business. The question that started my interest in building my own company (D.LAB Dezign Laboratories) was “what if I can be a platform to serve both buyers and sellers?”. Since then, with over 10 years of cross-border contract manufacturing experience, we have delivered solutions to companies of all sizes and industries.
What excites you most about your industry?
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is bringing significant changes to ASEAN – the world’s fifth-largest manufacturing economy – and has been a key driver of ASEAN’s growth. ASEAN is expected to become the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2030, continuing the steady progress seen over the last five decades. With the emergence of new technologies, it is important for Singapore to embark on strategic initiatives in advanced manufacturing to not only support the transformation of existing industries and uplift our existing manufacturing base but also to contribute thought leadership and share best practices with the rest of the region.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Singapore and since young, I’ve been travelling around Asia to follow my parents on their business trips mainly in China and Hong Kong. In my career I’ve always strived to work in a regional role to serve Asia businesses. I’ve grown quite fond of countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines which offer truly diverse backgrounds with interesting food and cultures. My relatives are around Asia, in Hong Kong and Australia and our ancestors most importantly are from China, the city of Foshan.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, not because I was born here but because Singapore, in my opinion, is the window showcase and an example for the rest of ASEAN because she is situated in the heart of Southeast Asia. The other reason is Singapore’s tax rate is one of the lowest in the world.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My mom told me she believes I can do it if I set my heart to it. Stay passionate, only when you are passionate can you do things differently from others. Whether it is doing cold calling and facing countless rejections, that one door that opens up to you is worth it.
Who inspires you?
My mom. When I was a child I followed her when she was working at a semiconductor company to trade exhibitions. Throughout her experience as an employee with the company, I saw her climb up the ladders from a secretary to a managing partner of the company and later on set up her own textile business. I told myself one day I would want to be like my mom.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ve learnt that Alibaba has injected around 2 billion dollars into Lazada.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would like to work smarter, having clocked almost 16 hours of work a day during my busiest periods.
How do you unwind?
Playing basketball, I’m an avid basketball player and I have learnt in basketball the values it can bring to the business. Things like teamwork, motivation, and leadership.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan, especially Hokkaido because the life there is laid back. I would like to retire there.
Everyone in business should read this book:
The Macintosh Way by Guy Kawasaki. I read the book 3 times, and there were a couple of blueprints of the Apple business model in the book which I have tried to model behind my company.
Shameless plug for your business:
We focus on delivering good quality contract manufacturing services; adopting a 360 approach to design, product development, manufacturing, and logistics. We understand how decision-makers need to turnaround their projects within specified datelines. And the importance of turning ideas into reality in a safe and predictable manner amidst the complexities of sourcing and production. We don’t just sell our services, our priority is first to understand our client’s pain points, objectives, and requirements and deliver a clear and sound solution to solve them. With over 10 years of cross-border contract manufacturing experience, we deliver solutions to companies of all sizes and industries.
How can people connect with you?
Business mobile – 93806108
Business email – firstname.lastname@example.org
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of two best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.
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Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com