In early 2001, Mr. Kan asked me to join him in an interview by Yamazaki San of Narumi Co. Ltd which is a Japanese Arowana magazine. He was unable to converse in Englsih and hence, he came with his staff Ms. Erlinda who acted as his interpreter. He was one of the pioneers in the Arowana industry who visited the wild rivers in Indonesian and Malaysia to take photos and filmed the fishing of the wild Arowana. He was a well known figure in Japan and among the early Arowana farms. He came to Singapore to find out more and to write an article about Singapore Arowana farms as Singapore Arowana was gaining popularity then.
I expressed to Yamazaki San my interest to sell Arowana to Japan. But I didn’t know anyone who was willing to cooperate with me. I was very keen to do a marketing trip to Japan and Yamazaki San was very kind to offer his help.
In May 2001, I took my first attempt in marketing Arowana to “stranger” in the Japan Arowana industry. Prior to the trip, I was actively doing up my sales kit...something which I learned during the early days when I was a trader in the monetary market.
A black file was choosen...a more "serious" colour for business. I still keep it till today. Some of the details were...
My company was....
A Letter of Cooperation with Panda farm.
...I know about arowana farming process.
...the quality of fishes.
...for pre-close of sales...Term & Condition. I was hoping to get a sales order...
When I arrived in Narumi office, Shinjuku, Japan. I was shocked. Yamazaki San presented me a schedule of visitation to the aquarium shops...
This was for his staff who couldn't read English.
This was for me...
I was excited and yet weary. How would anyone willing to buy Arowana from me as I am only a trader and did not own a farm? Will they be convinced that I have the capacity to supply Arowana and to be trusted for good business cooperation? Honestly, I could only move forward...I needed to seize every opportunity to get connected and build up business cooperation. I must confess that during that period, I was unhappy with my day job as an IT consultant. I was contemplating whether to quit my job and go full time into fish business. Hence, building up more businesses was necessary to ensure that I am able to survive without a regular income.
As you can see from the schedule of visitation, it was a four days work. The shops which we visited were...
The above was the Japan topical fish aquarium shop. The Arowana Pro-Shop were as below.
Katano San of Tiara Machida
Akai San of Tokyo Bay Tropical Fish
Tsuji San of Aqua Material AF
Fukui San of Rafflesia
Takahashi San of Aqua Rubi
Sakamoto San of Pontiana Aquarium.
I did not get any sales during the trip. I was sad and discouraged. But not long after I returned to Singapore, Tsuji San of Aqua material came to visit Panda farm and I got my first sales order from Japan!
Some facts on CITES registration... 1. Rainbow Farm (Jan 1997), 2. Panda Aquatic (March 1998), 3. Dragon Fish Industry (May 1999), 4. Singapore Arowana Breeding Farm (May 2000), 5. Wan Hu Fish Farm (May 2000). As you can see, Dreamfish started during the infant stage of the Singapore arowana industry.
Many did not know...Dreamfish was the first to formaly introduced Singapore arowana to the Japan market and Panda arowana was the first to bring fame to Singapore arowana in Japan.Aqua material was the first Japanese aro-pro shop to step into Singapore arowana industry. After they have imported our fishes, many other Japan aro-pro shops started to source arowana from Singapore. They begin to realise and understand the quality of Singapore arowana.
Prior to my trip, most Japanese arowana importers would purchase their fishes from Malaysian and Indonesia as they felt that the arowana from there were superior. This was a misconception. Aqua Material was one of the pioneer in Japan but they switch from buying from Malaysia to Singapore. Why?... Our fishes were more expansive but fuflill the high quality demand of the Japanese hobbyist. Today, Singapore arowana has occupy a large market share in Japan. This should be a creditable testimony!
I am truly grateful to Yamazaki San...he has taken my trip seriously and has took the trouble to contact many shop owners to arrange for a meeting with me. I remembered that when I asked him why he go to such extend...he said that I was one of who was really serious about penetrating the Japan market and he wanted to help. I was really surprise. Why? ...because we have only met once back in Singapore and he was willing to support me without any reservation...he has paid for all the local travelling expenses there...plus food and... alcohol. If you know the cost of living in Japan...I have saved quite abit on expenses cost due to his generosity. His help...cannot be measured by any monetary mean!
9th Jul 2013 1858hrs