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Principles of Success

From an air conditioner salesman to founding and helming the world’s largest manufacturer of rubber gloves, Top Glove Corporation Executive Chairman Tan Sri Dr. Lim Wee Chai has had a meteoric rise. A veritable captain of industry and an icon in his field, Tan Sri Dr. Lim has led Top Glove to the very pinnacle. Today, the company is responsible for more than 25 percent of total rubber gloves production in the world, with output of 85 billion pairs. But rather than rest on his laurels, Tan Sri Dr. Lim is aiming to take the company and the industry to even greater heights. It is for these achievements and this vision for the future that Tan Sri Dr. Lim Wee Chai is receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Business Review ASEAN Awards 2020.


Humble Beginnings

“Top Glove was established in the year 1991. In the beginning, there were challenges. As a small company, we didn’t have enough money. All our savings of RM180,000 was put into the company. We only had a small number of people and one factory. So we had to do everything ourselves, and overcome all our problems – marketing problems, technical problems, engineering problems. We had to overcome them one-by-one and work seven days a week.”

Facing Industry Challenges

“There have been a total of 253 glove factories or companies formed in Malaysia, but around 200 or 80 percent of them have closed down. So, the glove business is very competitive. And we are not only competing with Malaysian companies, but those in Thailand, Indonesia, China, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. It is like the Olympic Games. So we had to discipline ourselves and build a strong foundation, so that even when the storm comes, we are still here.”

Getting Back to the Basics

“For me, the most important thing is to go back to the basics, and that is to be physically and mentally healthy. When you have that, you have a good foundation and you can learn, gain knowledge, make good decisions, work well, do good business and make a positive contribution to society. And when you do that, your reputation and image will be good, and this can last for many years.”

Continuous Improvement

“If you want to do well, you must continue to improve, and to do that you must always be learning and always gaining knowledge. Learning can be done anywhere – from books, from school, from successful people, from successful companies, from successful countries. And if you learn the right things every day, then you can add value every day. But after you learn, you must have the discipline to do. And that’s the key – knowledge and discipline.”

The Importance of Tiny Gains

“Why are some people so successful and some people are not? Those who are successful are always improving themselves. I am a believer in the power of tiny gains. If every day you improve by 1 percent, in one year, you will improve by 1.01 to the power of 365 days or 38 times. And that is a huge difference.”

Consistency is the Key

“If you want to do well, you must have a good foundation, a good base to grow from. And it is important to be consistent and practise good values, good things every day. Because if it is good then why don’t you do it every day? That way your value will go up every day.”

Earned Not Given

“There is no easy way to success. You have to earn it. Success that is given is just temporary, but success that is earned because of your knowledge, your education, your reputation cannot be taken away. If you are determined to achieve something, you must not give up easily. Many of the most successful people have gone through hardship and have failed before.”

The Power of Positivity

“When you have knowledge and discipline and think positively, you will do well. I am a very positive person, and I try not to remember the bad things because when you think about the bad things, you don’t leave space for the good thoughts to come in. We cannot change history, so we shouldn’t give too much time to the past. Because we should always be learning something new and solving future problems.”

Top Glove in the Future

“Our goal is to become a Fortune 500 company by 2035. To achieve this, we need to grow sales revenue by 20 times to US$35 billion a year. We need to increase our manpower from 21,000 to 200,000. We need to have 350 factories. And we need to have more researchers. At the moment, we have 770 scientists and engineers who are constantly coming out with good ideas and products. We aim to have 10,000 of them.”

High Personal Goals

“I always say if we think big, dream big, do big, we can achieve big. I have set a very high target for myself, and that is to live to 120 years, because I want more years to contribute to the company and society. The normal lifespan is 80 years, so I want to earn 40 years extra and that means having knowledge about the body. So I have to make sure that my cells are healthy, so they can produce healthy cells.”

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