Today is the 100th day commemoration of my grandfather’s passing. Being the first grandchild, I appreciate countless precious time I had with him, listening to his life experience, his advice, and understanding what made him a well-respected individual.
My grandfather, Mr. Soegiharto Njoo also known as “Njoo Hee Bao,” was not born from a wealthy family. His family was barely able to consume a nutritious meal. Rice with soy sauce was probably one of the best foods he could get. He started working at the age of seven and moved to Indonesia at the age of ten with nothing but gut and willingness to get a better living. In Indonesia, he began working as an unpaid labour in a shop where his father worked, and he only got food as daily compensation. This dire situation did not discourage him to work hard and grab opportunities. He started lending money from his employer to start a business.
He ventured from one business to the others, from selling cigarettes, candies, and peanuts to establishing noodle shop and soap factory, until finally, he became a successful sugar distributor. However, his endeavor and struggle did not stop there. Government forced him to close his sugar business due to anti-monopoly / antitrust law prohibiting one firm to dominate the market. With his keen eye for opportunities, he closed the sugar business and built a national scale paper factory – PT. PAKERIN, corrugated boxes mills, banks, and real estates.
Through his life I learn priceless important life and business values, such as:
My grandfather is a person with courage and determination. He took the risks and did what was necessary to grow his business and to take care of his family. Being forced to close his well-established sugar distribution business was very devastating for my grandfather. But, he quickly explored other business opportunities. He searched for partners, funding, and finally, developed a paper factory. However, his first attempt was a major failure. The used machine that he invested could not run as expected and he was left with nothing but a license to run a paper business.
With positive attitude, he flew to Taiwan to learn from the engineering experts. There, he saw a truck filled with sugarcane bagasses and found out that those bagasses can be used to make papers. While in Indonesia, bagasses were thrown away and burnt. With little technical understanding, he saw an opportunity and invested a new paper machine capable of manufacturing papers from bagasses. As the result, our company was able to produce papers with minimal raw material costs and earned substantial profit.
My grandfather showed us that as long as we work hard and continued to learn, we will be able to realize everything. To instill this value to our family, he put his life story in the wall of our house, in which he described his struggles, his endeavor, and that his successes did not come instantly. He told me that in his early endeavor, he had to wake up very early in the morning to source products from Surabaya and cycling back to Krian, Sidoardjo to sell them. He said “you have to be the first to serve the market, if your customers have bought somewhere else they wouldn’t buy from you.” He saved money penny by penny every day until he accumulated enough money to scale his business.
My grandfather is a well-respected individual. Not only did he develop trust, but he also developed connection and loyalty. He did not hesitate to help people who needed help and he always kept his words. Today, we have many managers, employees, and staffs who are very loyal to the Company.
Many people told me how my grandfather had helped them in their business. One customer said that my grandfather continued to supply product during his difficult times, while other suppliers did not. Now, he became one of the biggest and most loyal customers to our company PT. PAKERIN. Despite a significant price discrepancy with competitors or slow market condition, he is committed to purchase from us.
There are many other life values and life examples he had shown me, but above all he told me that it is because of God’s grace and blessings.
I hope my grandfather’s life story could inspire you as much as I am inspired by him.