Dato’ Jennifer Ong
Managing Director of J.O Glove Sdn Bhd
& Exec. Director of Ying Yong Gloves Manufacturing Sdn Bhd
by Dato’ Kee Hua Chee
2015 has been an excellent year for newly ennobled Dato’ Jennifer Ong. This Managing Director of J.O Glove Sdn Bhd (no prizes for guessing what the initials stand for) and Executive Director of Ying Yong Gloves Manufacturing Sdn Bhd ventured into the lifestyle industry for the first time as Master Dealer for Lampe Berger in Mid Valley megamall.
Entrepreneur Dato’ Jennifer is involved in various business ventures but so far all have been industrial without a hint of glam, luxury or sequin. She is executive director of Ying Yong Gloves Manufacturing, a major string knit cotton glove manufacturer in Malaysia which is not to be confused with the much bigger rubber glove industry as she feels she should concentrate and prosper in a niche market and not compete with existing dominant rubber glove players.
She is also the managing director of J.O Glove which she formed to spear head a new distribution and sales network for her family owned Ying Yong Gloves.
Due to her approachable and friendly disposition and coupled with her dedication to meet her customer’s requirements, she quickly established J.O Glove as a sought after brand among the major hardware wholesalers and end users. As expected this was such a male dominated, old boy network club that her appearance caused a stir. She adroitly got her way without stepping on sensitive toes and within 4 years elevated J.O Glove to top of the class.
Still, her peers recognised her contribution to the Malaysian hardware distribution business and she won a major coup when she was invited to be one of the very few female members of the Malaysia Hardware Wholesalers Association.
“Perseverance and respect were key factors,” explains Dato’ Jennifer Ong. “I let it be known there is always room for newcomers in any industry as it depends on the newcomer’s attitude and capability. Every industry needs injection of new blood now and then to stay ahead of the curve. If it is not me, it will be someone else. I am not replacing anyone or any company but expanding the pie so it is a win-win situation.”
Late last year, she acquired the Lampe Berger Mid Valley retail outlet and became a Master Dealer for Lampe Berger. Lampe Berger is one of her passions as she believes in the natural benefits of the scented products which has been around for more than 116 years. In January this year, she opened her first outlet at Mid Valley and has big plans ahead to move the business forward.
Dato’ Jennifer’s focused marketing approach, integrity, business acumen and immaculate dressing have brought her much success in her business ventures and she is well liked by business associates and friends who can always count on her for support when it comes to fund raising.
The path to success has not been easy for Dato’ Jennifer as she encountered many challenges along the way but luckily nothing earth shattering. She was sent abroad to the United States to study where she experienced adversity in studying in a foreign language far away from her family.
Her English is excellent today but it was not so as a teenager. “I was Chinese educated and my command of English was basic but I pestered my father to send me to America to study rather than Taiwan or Hong Kong.
“As the only girl with 4 brothers, dad preferred me to study locally so he could keep an eye on me. As the eldest child and only daughter, I received special attention from my dad who was a seafood trader and housewife mother. Many friends assumed I was either spoilt rotten by my 4 younger brothers or got badly bullied by 4 boys when growing up. Actually it was neither. I got on splendidly with my siblings and our closeness remains to this day.
“Dad saw I was adamant about studying overseas so he decided to throw me into the deep end so I had to either swim or sink.
“I wanted to study in glittering New York or London. Instead I was sent to Knoxville in Tennessee which was not the capital of cool! Initially I studied Accounting where I proved to be lousy and my lecturers advised me to take Business Administration which suited me well.
“I spent the first year doing my English Language Foundation course and spent nearly 6 years in USA where I worked part time to gain experience.”
When she returned to Malaysia she worked in sales for various industries including the hospitality and financial services.
“My first job was with YTL Hotels. I worked as sales co-ordinator at Vistana hotel before venturing into insurance.” she recalls.
But it was her yearning to be her own boss and also a request by her brother to lend a helping hand in the Ying Yong Gloves business that prompted her to take the plunge and start J.O Glove. She aspires to establish the J.O Glove and Ying Yong brands not only in Malaysia but to other parts of Asia and all is going according to plan so far.
Dato’ Jennifer Ong is extremely lucky as she has the full support of wealthy chartered accountant husband Christopher Lim.
“Friends introduced me to Chris but it was not love at first sight!” recalls Dato’ Jennifer Ong. “It was love after several months! I liked him when we first met and love just grew. Chris allows me personal space and lets me make my own decisions. Of course we discuss things but in the end, he says he will respect my final decision since only God knows what the future holds. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!”
Her cotton knit glove factories are located at the fringe of the Perak and Penang border, at Tanjung Piadang and Parit Buntar. The Parit Buntar factory was recently set up to expand capacity to meet the growing demand for cotton gloves from Ying Yong and J.O Glove customers.
The various social events and business organisations she has been involved over the last few years include being an exco member for Branding Association of Malaysia for 2015 to 2017, member of Malaysia Hardware Association, member of United Commerce of Women Association and Honorary Member of International College of Dentists.
Her Datoship award is the highlight of her life as she is now among the youngest Datos in Malaysia. Another feather in her cap is winning the Asia Pacific Most Promising Woman Entrepreneur Award for 2014.
At 158 cm, she has long abandoned all hopes of being a supermodel but this pretty and perky dynamo has been awarded a slew of beauty titles.
Dato’ Jennifer Ong is Timeless Elegant Queen in Miss Malaysia Kebaya 2013 and Charisma Ambassador for Mrs Malaysia 2014. She was appointed Mentor for 2 finalists who went on to win both the main title and 4th Runner-Up in the Miss Petite South East Asia 2013 pageant.
She was also asked to be a judge for the Semi Finals for Mrs Universe Malaysia 2014 and Semi Finals for Mrs Elite Malaysia 2014 as well as Talent Competition Judge for Mrs Universe World 2014.
As an animal lover, she donated RM5,000 cash and helped raise funds for ‘We Are Family’ book project to build an animal shelter for Homeless and Orphaned Pets Exist (HOPE) in Johor.
Another cause she devoted time and expense was the ‘Silver Lining’ fund raising project by professional photographer Patrick Low for Starfish Malaysia Foundation, Lighthouse Children’s Home & Living Hope.
Her philosophy in life is “Never give up as the future is golden”.
Her favourite designers are Keith Kee and Mary Katrantzou so none should be surprised if her next venture includes boutiques, shoes, accessories and jewellery! “I do love pretty, feminine stuff while my main business of glove manufacturing has nothing to do with glamour,” she admits but avoids saying anything more in black and white so we shall have to wait and see.
Dato’ Jennifer Ong is blessed with 2 lovely daughters. “The eldest is Venice, 11, while Priscilla is 5. “Priscilla’s name was proposed by Chris’s mother while I named my eldest child Venice. No, Venice was not conceived in Venice! I just love the sound of the name, that’s all. In fact, I have never been to Venice!”
“I let it be known there is always room for newcomers in any industry as it depends on the newcomer’s attitude and capability. Every industry needs injection of new blood now and then to stay ahead of the curve. If it is not me, it will be someone else. I am not replacing anyone or any company but expanding the pie so it is a win-win situation.”