Renewable solar energy has always been Michael Leong’s passion since he was young. Pursued a university education in Electrical Engineering course and majored in the power industry sector, he’s considered as one of the lucky ones. He was employed in multinational companies dealing with power energy industry since he graduated. He then discovered his passion by chance when he was involved in the power generation site. Ironically, as he was involved in the power generation site, he was thinking of a “cleaner” way to generate environmental-friendly power. That’s how he ventured in the solar business and named it as Tera VA Sdn Bhd.
The power in TERA VA
“Tera VA stands for a mathematic equation. Tera is a unit prefix in the metric system, while VA stands for Voltage and Ampere and these two combinations create Power. Originally, we wanted to name it as Tera Power. Unfortunately, somebody has taken up the name. So, instead of changing the whole concept, we just changed the unit instead,” the CEO of renewable solar energy, Tera VA explains.
Slowly expanding in the market
2011 marks the beginning of everything. It was only him who ran the company back then. With only a small table given where he had to share with another person, it didn’t stop him from drafting his ideas and planning to expand the business.
“From just one room with one table, I employed another person as an admin for my company. Then, we eventually expanded to an office and a factory. Today, we have expanded further because our team has rapidly growing. So we moved one floor up and took the whole unit and now we are taking the next-door office to set up our corporate office.”
Tera VA started small and they were just a new kid on the block. However, Michael proves that to achieve greater things, it’s not necessary to have a big team.
Small team, but mega projects
“Back in 2011, we did 4,000 kWh capacity for our client. Along the journey, we secured 12,000 kWh capacity and we grew to bigger projects from 48,000 to 70,000 to 100,000 and eventually to mega capacity. This story reminds us of our humble beginnings and keeps us grounded each time we are facing with new challenges,” Michael recollects.
“We also have many repeated customers who stay with us to expand the solar energy system from phase 1, phase 2, phase 3 and so on,” adding that they have secured a project worth above RM 10 million.
Sometimes it’s not about how big your team are and how far you have achieved, but how hard you work to make your clients happy.
Today, Tera VA has set their name among trusted clients. Some of their biggest clients are M&S Food Industries Sdn Bhd – Malaysian 3rd largest coconut milk manufacturer, Jaya Nets Sdn Bhd, the largest fishing net manufacturer as well as QL Poultry Farms to name a few.
Adding on, the solar energy company has also managed to attract new shareholder to venture in the company. Michael believes that through the entrance of the shareholder, he can further grow the company as in the capacity of the manpower as well as the volume of the projects.
Challenges come from every corner
When asked about any hardship he had gone through along the journey, Michael treats challenges as a stepping stone to grow further. He had tasted all sort of experiences before, but for him, challenges are fun and also a process to grow.
“I was 28 when I founded this company. Solar energy wasn’t a popular industry back in 2010-2011, not until in Dec 2011 when 2 laws were enacted. As this industry is highly regulated, the policy isn’t consistent. Challenges come from every corner – the market, the industry, the politics but we treat them as external factors. I think what drives me forward is my passion for renewable energy.”
We must not fear competition and be comfortable. Yes, sometimes you win sometimes you lose. Do not fear competition. Embrace them and learn from it.
Michael shares with WargaBiz his crazy story when he approached people and said that he can build a solar system on TNB’s rooftop. “Who had ever thought that we can sell renewable solar energy to Tenaga Nasional Berhad – the only electric utility company in Peninsular Malaysia? No one believes in me and they even laughed at me. But I proved them that solar energy will be a huge thing in the next 5 years and look at me now.”
TERA VA aspires to lead the renewable energy transformation in the country
TERA VA wants to lead the transformation of the energy sector in the country from fossil fuel to the renewable source. As the world is moving towards renewable energy, he thinks it’s the right thing to do. They also would like to be among the top players in the industry.
“We are not only restricted our service in Malaysia, but also in other parts of the world. Wherever the sun shines, there’s our market,” he says jokingly.