KOTA TINGGI, Johor: When Loi Tuan Ee visited the milking barn on his farm in Kampung Mawai, it was a little hard to imagine that this was the man who ran one of the largest dairy companies in Malaysia.
The founder of the company was simply dressed in a t-shirt and jeans. His clothes were soaked in sweat from the scorching heat while his boots were covered in mud.
Loi, 57, spends most of her days in company offices, talking to lawyers, clients and employees. But when he has time to visit one of his five dairy farms in Malaysia, he’s happy to do so because that’s where he feels most at home.
He started The Holstein Milk Company and its subsidiary Farm Fresh in 2008. Since then, Farm Fresh has become a household name in Malaysia, and even in neighboring countries like Singapore and Brunei.
Behind the brand’s growth lies a story of risk taking, passion for agriculture and harnessing the potential of the local dairy industry.
Loi’s journey as a dairy farmer actually started as a gamble.
He had held a corporate position for 20 years in the food packaging industry, advancing to managerial positions.
Loi flourished in his work. At one point, he was making around 500,000 RM (US $ 119,489) per year.
He ran a marketing department and worked with large companies such as Sony and Panasonic.
Yet Loi felt there was a limit to what he could accomplish as an employee.
“It was a very close-knit family business,” he said, adding that as a foreigner it would have been difficult for him to take things to the next level.