Like many great CEOs, Wallace Teoh possesses strong leadership and bold personality. But, there’s something different for the CEO of Nutriva International – he has hope to change his future. Wallace Teoh values in planning and how agile the pharmaceutical industry is.
“The rapid expansion and development of research on medical supplement have pushed individual to know all about the industry and to be visionary so that you won’t be left behind,” he says.
For Wallace Teoh, he has sketched the plan to be a businessman since he was a young boy. It took almost 10 years to fulfil it – but it was worth it and the journey is indeed beautifully crafted.
A kampong boy with a big dream to be a boss
He shares with WargaBiz his sweetest childhood memory living in Sg Siput, Perak. “My parents are rubber tappers and I had to help my parents at the rubber plantation early in the morning before anyone woke up and then rushed to the school after finishing collecting rubber.”
The journey to the rubber plantation is quite far and soundless, just the sound of the insects in the forest. “I had a lot of time to self-reflect and ponder because there’s no one to chat with. So I thought how to step out from poverty?”
He had a dream to be a businessman. Yet, not knowing what kind of business he wishes to venture. So, what he did was he studied hard because he knew his parents couldn’t afford to send him to a better school. Luckily he did well in school and was chosen to go to Politeknik.
A visionary man with a plan
It was in 1997 when the recession hit the big time. The global recession pushed him to think smart and chose a study discipline that won’t be affected by it. Hence, he chose Food Tech while others eagerly chose Engineering or Computer Science.
From Polytechnic,he was then offered to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Food Tech in University Putra Malaysia (UPM). He landed a job right before graduation – a position in Research & Development department at Unilever. During his two-year career in Unilever, Wallace learned a lot about R&D formulations and factory production processes from A-Z. He once asked his manager that he could just copy every formulation and do his own brand.
“My manager told me even if you did so, you don’t have the branding. I soon realised that sales were very important for branding. So I left a good position at Unilever to a sales job of selling credit cards.”
After 3 months of gathering sales skills, he landed a job at Pfizer Malaysia Sdn Bhd which is hard to get. As a chosen three out of 200 applicants, he worked there for six years and gained experience in pharmaceutical products and build a strong network with pharmacies and doctors. At the age of 26, he has already secured a five-digits paycheck and has assets; a car and a house.
“In life, you have to set your target and don’t waste time. Once you got married, you’ll have kids and by the time you’re growing older, you don’t have the same energy as you are young to chase your dream or take a risk.”
Selling toys at pasar malam
However, the luxury somehow distracts him from his original plan to set a business. He then took a drastic move – went to China to find what business he can do.
“My first attempt was a huge failure. I got cheated by the supplier where they sent me different items than what I’ve ordered. So how can I sell all the toys to get back my capital? I had to go to Pasar Malam and sell them all and I did it,” he shares.
Nutriva International started from a small home-based business
Wallace chose health supplement as his core business due to his strong experience in the pharmaceutical industry. “That’s how Nutriva International started. From a small home-based office to having a huge warehouse with 15 staff.”
Nutriva International Sdn Bhd produces olive extract-based supplements. “Olive is known worldwide and even mentioned in Bible and Quran for its benefits. So I seized the opportunity because I know the market is big and easy to be accepted by everyone,” he says.
Nutriva has about 7 olive extract-based products and surprisingly, their first product is still hot-selling in the market. His company has the widest range of olive supplements even though they are deemed to be small. Slowly, they expanded to having two brands – Oliferin and Nutriva.
“Business man think more on how to earn money but as an entrepreneur, you come with a mission and passion.”
Nutriva International’s main customers are pharmacies and clinics and even some hospitals. They have secured a client who is a cardiologist in Singapore. “This is my mission, to help as many people as we can.”
Next for Nutriva International
This year is their 10th anniversary. After spending a decade in the industry, they can finally take a break and enjoy the moment. However, for Wallace, he never stop from sketching ideas and plans for the company. He wants to expand to Asia – especially Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. He wants to be more than a regular supplement company.
“We want to transfrom our company and to be called as a preventive medicine company that has therapies, dieticients to educate consumers and to ensure they are getting the right information,” says Wallace who has accomplished The Best Brand of Olive Extract Supplement award in 2019 and also Top10 Company of the Year award.
The 39-year-old ceo shares his greatest business advice to other entrepreneurs who wish to succeed in doing whatever they are doing. “Think carefully and set your aim whether you want to be a businessman, entrepreneur or a visionary leadership. It’s important to choose something that you’re passionate about. If you don’t, you won’t enjoy the journey,” he ends.