Dato Seri Chew Weng Khak
Founder, Pensonic Group
Dato Seri Chew Weng Khak made history by creating the first “Made in Malaysia” home electrical appliances brand – Pensonic – and subsequently the first Malaysian electronics company to be listed on Bursa Malaysia in 1995.
This year, 2022, marks two very important milestones for Dato Seri Chew as he will be proudly celebrating the 40th anniversary of his brainchild – Pensonic and blowing 80 candles by November. “My headmaster from Lubok Buntar, South Kedah brought me to Penang when I was 15 and my first job was with Camel Book Store in Carnavon Street,” recalled Dato Seri Chew of the days when he first arrived in Penang. “Soon I decided to work as a wiring man as I believed that it was important for me to have skills to survive,” he added. After working for two bosses and occasionally earning some extra income by working part time in a radio shop to help fix and repair radios, Dato Seri Chew started Keat Radio & Electrical Co., a small shop selling and repairing electrical home appliances in Balik Pulau in 1965. Although he rented the whole building, he had to sub-let the first floor in order to help pay the rent.
Settling down and marrying Tan Bee Tiang in 1968, his first son Dixon, was born in 1969, followed by Vincent in 1972 and Nelson in 1976. Life was a bit better for Dato Seri Chew then, and he expanded his business to town in Perak Road in 1974. Business was smooth sailing and Keat Radio was a retailer for foreign brands; but soon, these brands decided to set up their own distribution offices and started to market their own products instead of going through local distributors. The local distribution rights were taken away by the principal beginning of 1980.
This immediately made Dato Seri Chew think of what the future lies ahead for local retailers like him as the brands he was representing belonged to the manufacturers, for which he has no control over. It was the year 1982 when he decided to start his own brand – Pensonic, a name he coined, that amalgamated ‘Penang’ and ‘Sonic’ meaning – ‘Sound of Penang’.
“Most of the friends in the same industry tried to talk me out of it, some even laughed at me but I was determined as I believed having my own brand is the only way forward,” said Chew. “We cannot just sell for other brands, open their markets for them to capitalise on this where the brand doesn’t belong to us,” he continued. The Pensonic brand was registered as a trademark in Malaysia in 1984 and in more than 10 over countries globally. Business for this proudly-Malaysian brand started to grow as it gained a reputation of manufacturing quality and affordable home electrical appliances which appealed to the mass market.
On 18 December 1995, Pensonic Holdings Bhd was successfully listed on the Second Board of Bursa Malaysia Securities Bhd. Today, Pensonic Group has more than 600 dealers countrywide, covering most offline retailers from traditional to modern trade channels. It has also multiple online stores selling all the brands under its umbrella. It also exports to countries in ASEAN, East and West Asia, and the Middle East. Over the years, besides Pensonic as the core brand, business has expanded to include more brands such as Lebensstil Kollektion, Cornell and the Toush. It holds exclusive distribution rights in Malaysia for internationally renowned home appliances brand, Morphy Richards of the United Kingdom.
Under Dato Seri Chew’s stalwart leadership, the company, as a brand, has received a myriad of industry recognitions, certifications and awards from various establishments for quality, creativity, innovation, sales and service, brand excellence and marketing, amongst others.
On a personal front, Dato Seri Chew was the first recipient of the Putra Brand Personality of the Year Award in 2015 and most recently was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri TYT Tun Dato Seri Utama Ahmad Fuzi Haji Abdul Razak, and YB Yeoh Soon Hin, Penang state executive councillor for tourism and creative economy (PETACE) at the INPENANG International Awards 2021.