Dato’ Seri Damien Chua Wei Kee
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, JD Resources
“It was not easy but each challenge that came my way, I always find ways to overcome it.”
If there is only one formula for success, it would have to be seizing an opportunity and make it work through pure grit and hard work. This was how Dato’ Seri Damien Chua went from a waiter to become the owner of 30 companies in nine countries within a span of 26 years.
It can be said that his early years as an adult striking out on his own was an invaluable lesson that taught him independence and a strong will to succeed. Coming from a middle-class family, Chua had wanted to study aeronautical engineering or chemical engineering when he finished school. Yet, aware of his parents’ financial limitations, he gave up that dream and started working various jobs to fund his own education. “Since engineering was too expensive, I chose the cheapest course – accounting,” he said. To fund his education, he did a slew of different jobs that ranged from tutoring to waitering and coaching. He worked in McDonald’s, Parkson Store as a promoter, a lifeguard, a swimming coach, a tuition teacher and a waiter in a restaurant.
He ended up working in a zinc distribution company while studying ACCA part-time. It was this job that gave him the most experience in the zinc industry. When the 1997 Asian financial crisis hit, Chua lost his job in the zinc distribution company as the company was so badly hit, it went under. Desperate for a job, he decided to apply for the accountant post in a Melbourne zinc supplier company. Instead of landing a job, he was unexpectedly appointed as an agent in Malaysia. With no other job offers, he decided to give it a try and this saw the establishment of JD Resources in 1998. “It was a challenge taking up the risk at a time when we were still facing the effects of the financial crisis but somehow, I managed to face up to it,” he said. It was not all smooth-sailing and yet for each challenge that came his way, Chua somehow managed to overcome it and came out unscathed. “It was not easy but each challenge that came my way, I always find ways to overcome it,” he added.
Today, JD Resources holds 30% market share of the zinc supplies and 55% market share of zinc alloy supplies in the Southeast Asia market. The company started out as a sole proprietorship distributing 15 to 20 tonnes of zinc products two decades ago and now, the company is large enough to be publicly listed and is distributing 12,000 to 15,000 tonnes of zinc products. “Last year, when everyone was pulling out of China due to the trade war, we were going in to set up our factory there because we wanted to tap into the China market,” he said.
Other than continuing to expand his growing business, Chua is involved in 16 non-governmental organisations (NGO) and was recently appointed as the Honorary-Consul of Hungary. He also makes sure he allocates time for his family every weekend and spends most of his free time, if any, reading at least one book each month. “I must read to continuously improve my knowledge, it is a life-long process that must never stop no matter how busy I am,” he said.
“I must read to continuously improve my knowledge, it is a life-long process that must never stop no matter how busy I am”