Within the life of every Overseas Chinese is a tale worth noting. Tracing their life story would reveal valuable lessons of toil and triumph to us. Many of those who travelled to South East Asia, or better known as Nanyang back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, came with a simple dream; to earn a living in the hope of survival. News of abundant opportunities to work in the tin mines and rubber plantations spread far and wide amongst those struggling to survive in poverty-stricken Mainland China. Nanyang was prospering and the growing Chinese communities were thriving here! Nanyang, particularly Malaya, was the perfect place for those seeking to improve their lot in life.
A Journey in Search of Father
Of the thousands who made the journey to Malaya, Ngan Yin, a young lad of the Panyu clan, was in search of his long-lost father. His father had travelled to Malaya years earlier. For reasons unknown to the family, they lost all contact. Travelling more than 2000 miles to Malaya, seemed like the only way to track his father. The journey was a perilous one, but the young Ngan Yin and his mother were resolute. It was 1929 and young Ngan Yin was barely 10 years old. He travelled to Malaya with his mother and aunt to carry out their mission. Sadly, after months of searching, Ngan Yin’s father was still nowhere to be found. Although the money they brought was depleting fast, they decided to stay on to continue with the search. Despite the hardships, the young Ngan Yin together with his mother and aunt persevered and began building a life in Malaya.
Life must go on. Starting life in a foreign land with no relatives to render assistance was a formidable task. This was when Ngan Yin observed and learned from his mother the values of determination and diligence. The family worked hard, days on end just to earn a decent living. Ngan Yin was barely out of his childhood when he started his first job in the famous tin mines of Kampar, Perak. His mother did what she could, selling vegetables at the local market and taking on odd jobs that came her way. Their combined earnings were meagre but through a frugal lifestyle, they managed to save enough money to start their own vegetable wholesale business. The business continued to grow and they eventually accumulated enough capital to venture into the tobacco industry, producing and selling cheroots. By then Mr. Ngan Yin had matured into a bright young gentleman aged 25. After years of toiling in this land, the family decided to permanently settle down in Malaya, which had become their new home.
Seeds of Success
The end of World War II saw the local tobacco industry badly affected by imported cigarettes. Mr Ngan Yin struggled to revive his business which had flourished before the war. Sadly, things did not work out as planned. However, being the resilient man that he was, he did not allow the circumstances of his cheroot business to dampen his spirits. Despite being young and lacking in formal education, Mr Ngan Yin was a highly intelligent and astute businessman. He immediately saw and seized a new business opportunity; the production of groundnuts.
He turned his home in Aston Settlement, Kampar into a ‘cottage industry’. Day and night, high quality groundnuts were roasted, packed and sold from his humble dwelling. The distinctively rich nutty flavour and crunchy texture of Ngan Yin’s groundnuts soon became famous throughout Perak and beyond. Nut connoisseurs would insist that the best groundnuts must be from Mr Ngan Yin’s production, which were known popularly by the locals as ‘Kacang Menglembu’. The ‘Cap Tangan’ logo immediately became one of the most recognizable household brands in the country (internationally well known as “Thumbs”). Business picked up really quickly. In order to meet the high demand for his quality groundnuts, Mr Ngan Yin had to expand his production capabilities. This was how a small cottage industry eventually became a mega production factory, capable of producing tonnes of groundnuts for the enjoyment of thousands of consumers worldwide.
Leading with Charisma and Compassion
Mr Ngan Yin’s courage to start a groundnut business from scratch clearly demonstrated his great determination to achieve his ambitions. The hardships he faced as a child shaped him into a charismatic yet compassionate leader. He was both, a good mentor and boss. Whilst he was extremely strict when it came to production quality, he was also very tender when dealing with people. He was a great role model to his employees, demonstrating two of the greatest values which he had inherited from his mother: determination and diligence.
Some say, great leaders are shaped through good education but Mr Ngan Yin’s life, counters this statement. He was naturally gifted with great business acumen. Yet, Mr Ngan Yin was always humble and gracious as a boss. One of his employees recalled fondly how Mr Ngan Yin would wait patiently for all his workers to finish their work before partaking in a wholesome dinner together. It was this genuine devotion demonstrated by Mr Ngan Yin which won him the loyalty of his employees. Hence, they remained faithful by his side to assist him in the growth of the company.
Over the years, Mr Ngan Yin’s business had created job opportunities for thousands of Kampar residents. Indirectly, his business had contributed to the development of Kampar from an obscure village into a thriving town. Today, his family and descendants could carry on expanding his business, thanks to the solid foundation he had laid down. Mr Ngan Yin had indeed built a legacy for generations to come.
Despite his great successes, Mr Ngan Yin never forgot to give back to society. From old folks’ homes to orphanages, schools and community projects, Mr Ngan Yin’s philanthropy had improved and touched the lives of countless Malaysians. He even took the time to serve voluntarily as the Chairman of Pun Yi Association and the Executive Chairman of Pei Yan Primary School.
Thumbs Up to a Legend
Years went by and business was flourishing. Mr Ngan Yin had never forgotten the initial intent of his travel to Malaysia; to search find for his father. When his children were old enough to manage the business, Mr Ngan Yin made plans to return to China. The mission remained the same, to search for find and be reunited with his beloved father. Sadly, his wish remained unfulfilled. In 1980, while enjoying an excursion with his family, Mr Ngan Yin suffered a heart attack. He passed away en route to the hospital. Mr. Ngan Yin was cremated in Ipoh on a fine sunny day.
Milestone of Ngan Yin
Establishment of the small cottage industry at Aston Settlement.
From 3 to a group of 10 employees.
Shifted from the small cottage industry to Kampung Sultan, Kampar; employing over 100 employees.
Revive against the big flood that causes a big loss on the business that very year.
Celebrities from Hong Kong endorsing the groundnuts.
Expansion of another larger factory in Mambang Di Awan with the employment of 300-400 people.
Establishing Ngan Yin Groundnuts Factory Sdn. Bhd.
Exporting the groundnuts.
Diversified to Palm Oil Industry.
The sad passing away of Mr. Ngan Yin.
Mechanizing the factory due to rapid demands increment.
Stepping into housing development industry.
New product line launching for Shandong Roasted Groundnuts.
Launching of new product line for savoury nuts.
Going international. Changing the name from Cap Tangan to Thumbs and changing from Ngan Yin Groundnuts Factory to Ngan Yin Food Industries.
Contributing for Good
Giving back to the community is part of the late Mr. Ngan Yin’s sole vision and it is followed closely without neglect by the director of the company.
Free distributions of nuts during the Merdeka Cup.
Organizing Ngan Yin Cup for the Kampar Volleyball Association as a encouragement of healthy pursuits.
Fund raising charity event organization to purchase new dialysis machines for NFK centre.
Sponsorship Programme for :
Various kindergartens and schools on Sports Day.
Free nuts, t-shirts and funds for participants of Starwalks and Ipoh International Run.
Open days and meetings budget for Rotary Club and Lions Club.