Despite being born into the family that runs home-grown furniture manufacturing company HTL International, Phua Bo Wen says his current position wasn’t handed to him on a silver platter — he had to prove his commitment to his family and did so by successfully building HomesToLife, the direct furniture retail division of the business.

“Working with family members came easy to me as we have always been a tight knit group,” Phua reveals. On the other hand, this means that his co-workers wouldn’t hesitate to be blunt with him and it can be tough when his father and sister mentor him. “You feel you are disappointing them on a personal level. But it makes you fight much harder to improve.”

His father, Phua Yong Tat, has been a role model. “His notion of integrity was what impressed deepest on me. It is a very Asian value; a gentlemen’s way of doing business,” Phua says. “My goal is to help make the people around me better. Only when the team improves collectively can the whole organisation take a step forward.”

Despite the soft retail market, Phua continues to take big steps with HomesToLife, taking the opportunity to expand with the increased availability of rental spaces with good rental rates. The company is now working to have a retail presence around the region.