Typical of a rags to riches story, such tales would often evoke tears and inspiration but Dato’ Neoh Soo Keat’s trail exploded with laughter and comedy.
The Heron, his first and most memorable project todate saw Trinity’s Managing Director Dato’ Neoh passing with flying colors, completing it without a bridging loan, and even survived the scare of being left with three personnel following the Tsunami, and landslide in Puchong. He credits discipline, skills and commitment.
“It is a skill to manage whatever crisis.
“Our will was strong and it is our commitment to the public.”
A qualified Town Planner, his destiny has blessed him with three developments under his belt. After the first completion in 2008, he launched his second, 19 Residency, and is now awaiting completion of his biggest undertaking The Zest.
His calling began at the age of nine, when family finances forced him to spearhead as a breadwinner, to supplement his dad’s income as an Accounts Clerk and mum’s loss of tailoring clients when they relocated from Penang to Kuantan.
“I’m a big eater so I need to work to get money,” to feed all six Neohs.
He started with selling homemade noodles in school, then “graduated” along the way and dabbled into groceries on trucks, selling fish at the market, catering business and finally sold plastics bags at the age of 13.
But it took a toll on academics. Failing SRP (now PMR) was shocking. His friends jived, but he knew the downfall was caused by the lack of effort, not brains.
As Neoh Senior lost his joint-venture supermarket business, thanks to the 1986 recession, pressure was intense. They had to make a decision: to charge forward as an entrepreneur or to tempt Neoh’s academic fate again.
He probably owes his success today to that day of reckoning when he opted to return to school. Topping his school in SPM, he continued on to Form 6, gained entry into University Technology Malaysia, organizing a property exhibition called Urban Housing and Planning in 1995 to raise funds for his university.
In school, his flair for business never abated earning extra cash by delivering food, again, to his uni-mates and chartered occasional survey excursions to Kuala Lumpur from Johor. Because of his “side business”, he inherited the rare possessions of a mobile phone and a car, an essential tool that would later resuscitate his life.
Upon graduation, he was more confident about making wealth, charting his professional career in the office and leveraging investments opportunities at the robust stock market.
For a man in his 20s, qualified and still holding on to a good job, it is unimaginable that his staple would be instant noodles after the Asian Financial Crisis. He lamented, but the elders at home inspired with a Chinese proverb, “If you’ve never owned it before, how could you have lost it.”
“No matter what happens, you must have your basic tool, that way you can fight back when things go wrong.”
His father loaned him money to repurchase his tool – a car, for he had sold his wheels including his house after the AFC storm. He then began his real estate adventure, joining a friend who earned a piece of land as repayment caused by the same AFC. 29, Neoh prioritized the pioneering status of the career switch rather than the readjustment to the pay cut. In less than three years, he rose to General Manager before being made a 40% shareholder in another public listed company.
It is likely that Neoh is to pave his own path and lead his own way. Trinity began no more than three years after his stint at the public listed appointment. With his life reprieved many times, he knew he could bite the bullet and get through as a rookie developer.
As he stepped forward from his episodes of tragedy, and now away from Trinity’s roots in Puchong to Bukit Jalil, Melawati and USJ, he is reminded that “he came from society and he shall return his blessings back to the society,” another Chinese proverb.
Humbly, he professed that “it’s going to take a lot of effort” but he is willing to stick it out, rain or shine, broke or bright!
The Heron Residency,
Bandar Bukit Puchong, Puchong
Trinity’s first serviced apartments
290 units, Leasehold
Completed, January 2008, 8-months ahead
Bandar Bukit Puchong, Puchong
24 units, 3-storey semi-detached landed homes
Completed, May 2010, 10 months ahead
Achieved 79% score for QLASSIC, top-10 scores in Malaysia as of August 2010
The Zest, Bandar Kinrara, Puchong
Biggest Trinity project thus far
720-unit commercial and residential. 20 units of shop-offices. 24 units of retail outlets
3 blocks, 20-storey serviced apartments
Completion, by 2011