After 28 years of a successful run as the country’s leading mapmaker, Ho Chin Soon Research still shows no sign of slowing down. Many founders die in the saddle, but unlike them, Ho Chin Soon is familiar with the pitfalls of succession from many examples around him. So when it was time to leave, he stepped aside without so much as a ripple in the company’s performance as his successor took over. It was probably one of the smoothest transitions of power Malaysian corporate history has ever seen.
His heir and son, Ishmael Ho who is a law graduate with no prior experience as a surveyor or as a mapmaker turn out to be a fearless visionary, much like his father. Within two short years of leading the company, the young Ho had introduced newer and modern approaches that took a brand with a humble beginning new heights.
HOW IT ALL BEGUN
Penang-born Ho never had the privilege to further his studies due to his family’s financial constraint, but the lack of qualification had never stopped him from shooting for the stars. He landed a job as an assistant valuer at CH Williams, Talhar & Wong and did his articleship (all paid for by the company) while working there. After 12 solid years of devoting himself to the corporate world, he decided that it was time to start his own venture.
“It all came to light during a presentation for the analysts who came in to evaluate the company I was working for then, Island & Peninsular Group. They wanted to see our land banks and they were enquiring about our competitors. So I came in with the map and did my presentation. And the analysts ended up wanting to buy the map, but it was not for sale. So instead I told him that I could get somebody to draw one up-that was where the idea of starting HCS research come about,” says Ho.
It was a steep uphill climb for him starting out with no knowledge about business in his arsenal. But Ho is a smart man with the propensity for success-he knew he had to do whatever it takes to build a presence in the market, it wasn’t dumb luck that got him where he is today. The first map was the hand drawn ammonia print, ‘Chin Soon’s Golden Triangle’ which was sold for RM200. Before long, the Ho Chin Soon map became an essential tool in every developer and valuer’s office. Today, the iconic map is worth RM15,000.
A PERFECT SUCCESSION
When the young heir, Ishmael Ho joined the company, he spent the first six months learning the trade and picking up as many skills as he could from all the senior managers. Most of them have been serving for close to two decades, therefore they were better equipped to show him the ropes. Ho then spent two years grooming Ishmael to slide into the role of a CEO and a leader. “My management style is definitely different from my father’s. It was quite a struggle initially since most of our staff were already very much accustomed to my dad’s way,” explains Ishmael.
Coming from a generation where information is easily accessible, Ishmael understood the significance the internet and technology play in promoting a business. He revolutionised the Ho Chin Soon Research’s modus operandi by making the maps more accessible and mobile with the introduction of the Ho Chin Soon App. “Since Ishmael has taken over, we have expanded exponentially. I did not hand the throne to him because he’s my son but because I was confident in his capabilities. And that is why he is holding my share a 100%,” says Ho.
Despite his successes so far, Ishmael admits that his father is a tough act to follow. After all, Ho was one of the consultants selected to plan and draw the boundaries of Iskandar Malaysia during its inception 10 years ago. Ishmael expresses his desire to contribute to nation building and be part of something that could bring a difference to the country. So far the young CEO has been very vocal about issues pertaining to affordable housing and the Malay Reserve Land.
“There are a lot of people talking about the number of units and lowering housing cost, but ironically no one talks about the locations of these affordable housing. Most of those looking to buy a property are the young ones and building these affordable housing in areas outside of the city does nothing but kill their productivity due to the unnecessary long-hour travelling,” shares Ishmael.
Ho adds on to his son’s point, “It’s also time we do away with the Malay Reserve Land. It has done nothing but suppress the development of these areas, they need to realise this. We are working on keeping the people informed and changing their perception.”
This article was first published in the iProperty.com Malaysia November 2016 Magazine. Get your copy from selected news stands or view the magazine online for free at www.iproperty.com.my/magazine. Better yet, order a discounted subscription by putting in your details in the form below!