Big Onion Food Caterer – APEA – Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards

OUTSTANDING CATEGORY

Liang Foo Kuan
CEO


Big Onion Food Caterer
14, Jalan Balam Batu 3, Off Jalan Ipoh,
51100, Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia
+60 3-4041 4488
www.bigonioncaterer.com.my


With the impressive track record of profitability, growth and success that Big Onion Food Caterer has seen since its inception, one might expect a ruthless, business-like approach towards leadership and management from CEO, Mr. Liang Foo Kuan. Instead, his core beliefs centre around such concepts as putting people first, continuous learning and improvement, quality over quantity, and an admirable faith that: “Passionate people can change the world.”

Helmed by Liang, Big Onion has transformed from a restaurant with just 5 employees, into a catering and Event Management Company employing 60 people that has served numerous personal events, and over 600 companies, including Multinational Corporations. They have been called upon to serve the prime minister and Malaysia’s royalty at events, on more than one occasion.

Liang credits his parents for instilling in him the central ideas that form the bedrock of Big Onion’s company culture today. His passion for good, quality food was inspired by his parents, who ran a successful coffee shop that served chicken rice, mixed rice and various other dishes. The success was no accident, his parents were passionate about sourcing the best ingredients, from premium soy sauce, to the best-tasting onions and spices.

His parents also placed great emphasis on a good education, so at a young age, Liang was sent to the best school they could find in Singapore. When financial crisis struck in the 80s, Liang returned to study in Malaysia, to ease the financial burden on his parents.

It was in the midst of his tertiary education that tragedy struck his family. His father passed away. Liang put his education on hold in order to keep the family business going strong. This was his first working experience, where he learned that employees are the most important asset in a business. Here, he learned first-hand, about the value of human capital.

Resulting from this, and his philosophy of continuous learning, Liang now has a paternal approach to leadership, believing in providing an environment conducive to the betterment of his employees. Training and benefits are provided in abundance. “An employee can move from the position of kitchen helper to customer service should they be so inclined to learn, and should they demonstrate a talent for it.”

“There is every opportunity to move upwards, and we cultivate an attitude of being willing to learn and following their passion,” Liang says. “It is important to let people have pride in their work.”

Big Onion have successfully recruited, trained and groomed many long-term employees, and now has an impressive retention rate of 90%. Liang’s open-door policy, allows a healthy flow of communication, and he firmly believes that taking excellent care of his employees will ensure that they, in turn, will take excellent care of customers. This idea has paid off and Big Onion is now one of the top brands in lifestyle catering and event management in the Klang Valley area.

The importance of his education well instilled in him, Liang resumed part-time studying once he was able to, and found himself in college with younger students. He took it as a challenge and he learned that different generations have different things to teach, and that the younger generation might be your future employees, or clients. The future CEO graduated with a BA in Business Administration and Marketing.

Spurred by his insights into generational differences, Liang lead Big Onion into being selected as one of the Top Influential Brands 2016 in the Catering category, based on a market study of generation Y consumers (21-31 years old). Big Onion appeals to the social media savvy, GenY’s —one of the hardest segments to market to.

Big Onion also enjoys the manifold benefits of word-of-mouth marketing, an elusive and difficult to attain marketing. An example of his efforts to gain word-of-mouth marketing revolves around disposable canape holders, which were not available in Malaysia. Liang took pains to source them from various locations abroad, carefully selecting designs that were unique. This differentiated the presentation of the food, offering clients something others could not, something they would go on to talk about with their friends.

“Never compromise on quality, and the results will speak for themselves,” Liang says. Big Onion retains customers with a high satisfaction rate, and gains plenty of customers through recommendations.

“Do not chase the dollar sign,” Liang says of growing a business. Instead, he prefers to grow the company organically. “We grow to meet the demands of our customers, and to provide better for our employees.”

Profitability, Liang says, is a result of the quest to improve and learn, and to provide the best possible service.

“You cannot be stagnant. Things move really fast. So if you don’t keep learning and improving, you become obsolete.” Liang embraces change, and is always seeking out ways to evolve and grow, in creativity and innovation, in the food that Big Onion serves, in logistics, technology and company culture. He makes sure to keep abreast of the latest developments of trends in design and events, in order to understand the desires and dreams of customers.

“We try to follow the examples of the best global business in our field,” Liang says. “We then forge our own path in providing localised expertise.”

Big Onion operates out of two shoplots in Jalan Ipoh that includes their central kitchen, coldroom, store-room, R&D room, surau and management office. They specialise in finger food, or canapes that are Halal and Jakim certified. Big Onion’s Food Safety and Management Systems have also been audited and found to conform to ISO 22000:2005. Liang believes in adhering to standards that can be trusted by customers.

Corporate Social Responsibility is something Liang is passionate about, a natural extension of his ‘People First’ ideal and practices. His mission is to help, to make a difference in a practical and concrete way. CSR initiatives recently undertaken includes the launch of a Youth Development Programme where training in the culinary arts, housing, personal development and mentorship will be provided for disadvantaged youth. Big Onion also sponsors and donates in kind to old folk’s homes and orphanages. Sustainability is another area they are always looking to improve upon, seeking out greener solutions for packaging.

In the end, it is his passion for great food, putting people first, and his ability to inspire passion for their work in his employees that will continue to drive Liang and Big Onion to greater heights. “Starting a business is easy,” Liang says. “But to succeed, you need a lot of heart, a lot of passion. You can’t do it without passionate people around you.”

OUTSTANDING CATEGORY

Liang Foo Kuan
CEO

With the impressive track record of profitability, growth and success that Big Onion Food Caterer has seen since its inception, one might expect a ruthless, business-like approach towards leadership and management from CEO, Mr. Liang Foo Kuan. Instead, his core beliefs centre around such concepts as putting people first, continuous learning and improvement, quality over quantity, and an admirable faith that: “Passionate people can change the world.”

Helmed by Liang, Big Onion has transformed from a restaurant with just 5 employees, into a catering and Event Management Company employing 60 people that has served numerous personal events, and over 600 companies, including Multinational Corporations. They have been called upon to serve the prime minister and Malaysia’s royalty at events, on more than one occasion.

Liang credits his parents for instilling in him the central ideas that form the bedrock of Big Onion’s company culture today. His passion for good, quality food was inspired by his parents, who ran a successful coffee shop that served chicken rice, mixed rice and various other dishes. The success was no accident, his parents were passionate about sourcing the best ingredients, from premium soy sauce, to the best-tasting onions and spices.

His parents also placed great emphasis on a good education, so at a young age, Liang was sent to the best school they could find in Singapore. When financial crisis struck in the 80s, Liang returned to study in Malaysia, to ease the financial burden on his parents.

It was in the midst of his tertiary education that tragedy struck his family. His father passed away. Liang put his education on hold in order to keep the family business going strong. This was his first working experience, where he learned that employees are the most important asset in a business. Here, he learned first-hand, about the value of human capital.

Resulting from this, and his philosophy of continuous learning, Liang now has a paternal approach to leadership, believing in providing an environment conducive to the betterment of his employees. Training and benefits are provided in abundance. “An employee can move from the position of kitchen helper to customer service should they be so inclined to learn, and should they demonstrate a talent for it.”


Big Onion Food Caterer
14, Jalan Balam Batu 3, Off Jalan Ipoh,
51100, Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia
+60 3-4041 4488
www.bigonioncaterer.com.my


“There is every opportunity to move upwards, and we cultivate an attitude of being willing to learn and following their passion,” Liang says. “It is important to let people have pride in their work.”

Big Onion have successfully recruited, trained and groomed many long-term employees, and now has an impressive retention rate of 90%. Liang’s open-door policy, allows a healthy flow of communication, and he firmly believes that taking excellent care of his employees will ensure that they, in turn, will take excellent care of customers. This idea has paid off and Big Onion is now one of the top brands in lifestyle catering and event management in the Klang Valley area.

The importance of his education well instilled in him, Liang resumed part-time studying once he was able to, and found himself in college with younger students. He took it as a challenge and he learned that different generations have different things to teach, and that the younger generation might be your future employees, or clients. The future CEO graduated with a BA in Business Administration and Marketing.

Spurred by his insights into generational differences, Liang lead Big Onion into being selected as one of the Top Influential Brands 2016 in the Catering category, based on a market study of generation Y consumers (21-31 years old). Big Onion appeals to the social media savvy, GenY’s —one of the hardest segments to market to.

Big Onion also enjoys the manifold benefits of word-of-mouth marketing, an elusive and difficult to attain marketing. An example of his efforts to gain word-of-mouth marketing revolves around disposable canape holders, which were not available in Malaysia. Liang took pains to source them from various locations abroad, carefully selecting designs that were unique. This differentiated the presentation of the food, offering clients something others could not, something they would go on to talk about with their friends.

“Never compromise on quality, and the results will speak for themselves,” Liang says. Big Onion retains customers with a high satisfaction rate, and gains plenty of customers through recommendations.

“Do not chase the dollar sign,” Liang says of growing a business. Instead, he prefers to grow the company organically. “We grow to meet the demands of our customers, and to provide better for our employees.”

Profitability, Liang says, is a result of the quest to improve and learn, and to provide the best possible service.

“You cannot be stagnant. Things move really fast. So if you don’t keep learning and improving, you become obsolete.” Liang embraces change, and is always seeking out ways to evolve and grow, in creativity and innovation, in the food that Big Onion serves, in logistics, technology and company culture. He makes sure to keep abreast of the latest developments of trends in design and events, in order to understand the desires and dreams of customers.

“We try to follow the examples of the best global business in our field,” Liang says. “We then forge our own path in providing localised expertise.”

Big Onion operates out of two shoplots in Jalan Ipoh that includes their central kitchen, coldroom, store-room, R&D room, surau and management office. They specialise in finger food, or canapes that are Halal and Jakim certified. Big Onion’s Food Safety and Management Systems have also been audited and found to conform to ISO 22000:2005. Liang believes in adhering to standards that can be trusted by customers.

Corporate Social Responsibility is something Liang is passionate about, a natural extension of his ‘People First’ ideal and practices. His mission is to help, to make a difference in a practical and concrete way. CSR initiatives recently undertaken includes the launch of a Youth Development Programme where training in the culinary arts, housing, personal development and mentorship will be provided for disadvantaged youth. Big Onion also sponsors and donates in kind to old folk’s homes and orphanages. Sustainability is another area they are always looking to improve upon, seeking out greener solutions for packaging.

In the end, it is his passion for great food, putting people first, and his ability to inspire passion for their work in his employees that will continue to drive Liang and Big Onion to greater heights. “Starting a business is easy,” Liang says. “But to succeed, you need a lot of heart, a lot of passion. You can’t do it without passionate people around you.”