Director of Operations at Proof, Yung Ong has, in the last decade, transformed what was once an office furniture supplier into a lifestyle group known for introducing leading furniture brands — such as Barbara Barry, Baker and Poltrona Frau — into an increasingly style-conscious market.
In what might be considered quite a coup, the law-trained 33-year-old also secured the franchise rights to popular American furniture and lifestyle chain Crate & Barrel, opening its first Singapore store at ION Orchard earlier this year. A second five-storey store is in the works and will open early 2014 as the anchor tenant of the much anticipated Orchard Gateway mall.
Unintentionally groomed to become a player in the furniture and design scene, Ong was still a child when he first started visiting furniture fairs and sitting in on business deals. “My dad had no choice but to drag me around to his meetings because he had to baby sit me. So he’d put me in the corner and I’d have to busy myself, usually by figuring out how to operate the furniture. I used to think of furniture as toys and that’s how my interest was piqued,” he shares.
“One of the things my father taught me is to never give up. Even if you feel that you are not prepared, you still have to show up and give yourself a chance,” he adds. Despite Proof’s rapid growth — of late it debuted home accessories store Gilt & Folly and expanded BoConcept and Barbara Barry into Malaysia — Ong is not motivated by milestones or achievements. “For me, the reason why I’m here is because I love working with the people we have, not about becoming the biggest furniture group in Singapore or Asia, or anything like that, because without them, it really wouldn’t matter.”