The Story of Yeo Thian In, founder of Yeo Hiap Seng Sauce Factory in Singapore
LOCAL AUTHORS Special valid till 1 September 2019 (USP $19.26, save 38%)
This is the inspiring life story of Yeo Thian In, the founder of Yeo Hiap Seng sauce factory in Singapore. It records the transformation of a small sauce factory to a well-loved global food and beverage powerhouse. This book provides an in-depth account of Yeo Hiap Seng’s growth and business decisions such as becoming a public-listed company in1969. The ‘Yeo Hiap Seng’ name is rooted in the Christian faith. In Chinese characters, Hiap “協“consists of a cross of a “十”which stands for a cross and of three “力” (strength).
This is to signify that a united family with blessing of Christ will achieve great success. For five decades, the family business lived up to its name as its members worked hard and united to grow the business from a small factory to a powerhouse in the food and beverage industry. When Thian In died in1985, YHS food products could be found in Chinatowns in major cities across the world such as Sydney, London, Paris and New York.
The book is divided into four parts: the background, as in what happened before the company was founded, the founding of the company and how it grew (I didn’t know that Yeo’s started out with Soy Sauce! I only know it for the drink), the Yeo family, and more background, this time on Christianity in China, Chinese business practices, etc. The appendix is a discussion on what makes a business Christian.
And I think in the second part, on the business, they have a chapter about how soy sauce is made, so there’s more background there.
I don’t know if it’s because the book is fairly short, but Yeo Thian In remained a distant historical figure throughout. Unlike some biographies which can resemble novels in style, this read more like a history book.
In addition, I wish that the book went into more detail. For example, it was mentioned that the Yeo family didn’t join the Hokkien Association because of religious beliefs, but I would have liked a lot more detail on how that might make doing business more difficult (or not, but it seems like a disadvantage).
That being said, I’m still glad that I read the book, because it’s a part of Singapore history that I didn’t know, and that I think it’s worth knowing. We tend to focus on the same few individuals (like Tan Tock Seng) in our history classes and museums, so it’s nice to read about someone else.
Also Available in Chinese Edition: