Your Best Friend to Your Archenemy

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The Newsstand KING
Dang Tai Luk built from a single newsstand to a chain that stretches the length and breadth of the peninsular, in the process transforming and modernizing the traditional business of newspaper and magazine distribution. Now a day, he was owned 139th outlet in peninsular Malaysia. Mr. Dang’s is the fourth of nine siblings, where his father Dang Kai Ee was a rubber tapper who working very hard and being very thrifty to support a growing family through the ironworks foundry in his hometown of Air Tawar, Perak. Moreover, Mr. Dang’s father manages to support seven of them through further education at the University of Manitoba, Canada. Because of the impact from his father he wanted to own his business. Mr. Dang’s, graduated with a degree in computer science in 1985 and earned a master’s in the same subject in 1992 from the University of Manitoba. Regarding to him, about 10 of his family members of different generations have studied there. As a result, the holding company for is named Bison Stores where the bison is the University of Manitoba’s mascot. He first two ventures are a sad story though before he established After Mr. Dang’s graduated, he was returning to Malaysia and work full time for a financial institution. But almost immediately, he went into partnership with two friends – distributing a magnetic mosquito net developed in US. The business failed after a few months due to the partners’ inexperience. Several years later, Mr. Dang’s tried again and as a minority shareholder in manufacturing sound systems for a large US-based firm. Unfortunately, this venture also fell apart due to personal greed and mismanagement by certain parties involved. While still determined to build a business empire of his, Mr. Dang’s resolved to start small the next time, and ensure that he would wholly own the business. So when an opportunity to run a newsstand in the newly-opened 1 Utama shopping mall in Selangor arose, he took a deep breath and jumped right in. He was given only 24 hours to make decision as he had several offers on the space. He was fully supported from his wife after a discussion. His first store called Mag Bits was opened in 1996 and still exists on the lower ground floor of 1 Utama’s old wing. He kept the original name because he was asked to by the management. But recently, he got the go-ahead to turn it into a outlet. Mag Bits led to a chain of 139 news outlets which last year generated revenue of over RM100 million. Those early days were difficult ones for Mr. Dang’s and his wife, Ling Chao. He had to continue working full-time to finance the rent of the store as no bank was going to loan money to a newsstand, so his wife had to run the stand. She was game through and did a great job. However, problems with the way the business was run cropped up early on. From the moment he set foot in the original newsstand outlet, Mr. Dang’s knew things could be done better. The traditional newsstand has not been updated, ever. It’s messy, cluttered and close-off. With Mag Bits, he tried to make it bright, cheerful and inviting, but he knew more could be done. Even more disturbing was the “unprofessional” manner in which newspaper and magazine distribution was handled in Malaysia. As a small store owner, he had to take whatever was allocated to him. For example, he ordered 100 copies of magazine A and 50 copies of magazine B. If the distributors decides to send him 50 of magazine A and 100 magazine B, there was absolutely nothing him, as a single stall owner, he could do. He began to see why someone prominent within the industry jokingly warned him that it was ‘mafia businesses’. Mr. Dang’s launched a second Mag Bits outlet in Sungai Buloh but when a spot for a newsstand opened up in Mid Valley Megamall in 1997, he decided to take a different route because he felt Mag Bits as a name and concept was limiting. So, with the idea of launching an online as...
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