ECO★SAM® | SAM★INK® - This is my story, this my song
5 min read | 8-August-2020
Born, November 11, 1965, Sam holds a Bachelor's degree, Magna Cum Laude, in Engineering Law and a Masters degree in Industrial Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin; and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Golden Gate University San Francisco California U.S.A.
Nanotechnology at Cambridge, engineer at Hewlett-Packard and a director at Sihl, a public listed company in Zurich, Switzerland. Sam founded ECO★SAM® | SAM★INK® in 1999.
Michael Palmer was elected Speaker of the Singapore Parliament on 10 October 2011. He was the eighth Speaker in the history of the Singapore Parliament since it started in 1955 as a Legislative Assembly.
Michael was a Member of Parliament between 2006 to 2012. He served on the Estimates Committee of the 11th Parliament and chaired the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Defense and Foreign Affairs.
In July 2011, he was appointed the Chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Home Affairs and Law. He was also a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for National Development and the Environment.
Constance Leong, a lawyer at Goh Phai Cheng LLC, is a SCOPE IP consultant certified by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and is a member of the Licensing Executives Society of Singapore.
Constance researches, advises, manages, prosecutes, registers, protects, monitors, & enforces the company's portfolio of intellectual property rights of trademarks & patents. On IP business strategies, she analyses existing IP assets and future IP needs, develops a set of measures for effective creation, development, & deployment. She provides support on IP transfer via license agreements leading to monetary benefits as a licensor. She also reviews & negotiates agreements from technology research agencies like A*Star and Universities.
Constance served as Assistant Registrar / Legal Counsel at IPOS, Registry of Patents, where she, among others, reviewed and drafted Singapore Patent legislation and represented Singapore at the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO).
She has an LLB (Hons) and an LLM (specializing in International and Comparative Copyright Law and Information Technology Law) from the University of London UK. Apart from being called to the English Bar as a barrister at the Middle Temple in 1996, Constance is also admitted as an advocate and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore in 1997 and as a solicitor in England & Wales in 2000.
Sam overcame adversity at a young age and understands the challenges faced by many families. Born in 1965 in a racially diverse Singapore, he grew up in the midst of a newly independent country and struggling economy. There was abject poverty.
The son of a school teacher, Sam was the eldest of 3 children of a God-fearing family. His father, Alan, suffered from kidney failure and his entire family put up an emotional fight for 11 years.
Sam's life is all about hard work from the time he was a little boy. Beyond kicking a ball around with his friends, he was from the age of 10 bagging groceries at a grocery store. He worked for pay and did not choose to beg for money.
Sam's father, Alan Leong, was a school teacher, born and raised in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Alan grew up trading cigarettes with Japanese soldiers during World War II and went to school in a canvas tent. When WWII ended in 1945, he was only 14 years old and already earning his own keep.
Sam's grandfather, HW Leong, was a policeman, a civil servant of the Colonial British. He had a compassionate heart for the poor. In 1941, the Japanese Army invaded Malaya and started bombing Leong's police station.
While people were scrambling out of the building, Leong went back in for the prison keys, unlocked the cells and saved hundreds of lives. His family became refugees and fled to Singapore.
Sam was very fond of his father, Alan, whose plans for him included education on life's fundamentals. The Leong's were not well off and neither were their neighbors. The school teacher had to contend with young gangsters and Alan was an exacting disciplinarian.
Alan didn't shower praise on his sons. Instead, he surrounded them with his own expectations and fanned the dreams they came to share: dreams of seeing the world and higher education -- things he never had. Sam watched his father put in long hours during economic hardships.
But Sam didn't brood over his misfortune. He didn't ask his mother and father to figure out a way to take him. Instead, he developed a concept he would later make his signature theme at SAM★INK®, and indeed up till today in his adult life. It was something he called 'mindset'.
It was a term a lot of other people used to mean a host of different things, but to him, it connoted a powerful force, one that eliminated the doubt and risk and made sure something he wanted was going to happen. As an adult, he would define it in this way: " It's not a question of if we're going to get there. It's a matter of when."
"Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, your mind can achieve".
It was the 1970s, and many teenage boys, exposed to Apollo 11 and Sputnik, were fascinated with space missions and astronauts landing on the Moon. Sam poured over library books, did his research, and made his vow. He knew then what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. He would become an engineer.
While some youth exposed to the Beatles would plead for guitar lessons and rock bands, Sam chose his fate more carefully. Here was something he dreamed of and he knows how to get it - "If I can land a man on the Moon by being an engineer, then I'll be an engineer!''
He kept to his principles. He was cautious by nature. In the 1980s, while a national service armor infantry soldier in the Singapore Armed Forces, his fellow soldiers frequently invited him to card games. There, as in most cases, Sam was conservative. He liked poker but diligently kept his bets to the minimum.
He liked predicabiity and gambling is far from that control. So he would just put a toe into the water, never overextending himself. In romance too, he took no chances. He proposed to his sweetheart, Dr. Grace, only after two years of exclusively going through thick and thin together.
Sam hoarded an on-campus kitchen job to pay for tuition. "I was in University for only one purpose - to get a job when I step out of school". He is a engineering law scholar and graduated top of his class at the University of Texas at Austin (top US public engineering school).
The UT Graduate School of Engineering offered him a teaching assistantship to pursue his Masters of Science in industrial engineering. He later earned an MBA from the Golden Gate University, in the Silicon Valley of San-Francisco, California.
Sam cut his teeth at hp building printers. HP experienced bottlenecks on her production lines where 220 pounds of printers had to be lifted on and off every 3 minutes.
Sam worked late nights and over the weekends. Hand drawing up project timelines, budgeting, processes, layout, human resources, speed, technology, and the support maintenance infrastructure. He then sourced globally for technology.
The pneumatic programmable logic controlled semi-automatic robot was designed, approved, assembled, tested, installed, and commissioned within 3 months. It increased throughput by 500% without dropping a single unit and it was so reliable that it was adopted by hp factories around the world.
Sam subsequently took up the position of a marketing manager where he trained technicians. Driving himself further, Sam took on the role of a business manager executing product, pricing, promotion and distribution strategies in the Asia-Pacific stretching from Australia to China and to India. Encad was then a NASDAQ public company and the market leader in the wide-format printer segment. Sam was tasked to take Encad down in Asia.
Balancing product, pricing, promotion, and placement strategies, Sam holed up in R&D, rolled up his sleeves on the factory floor, and then hit the streets to knock on the doors of customers to take on Encad. The rest is history. Encad was delisted and then absorbed into Kodak.
Sam risked his life at hp. In 1998, Indonesia was not politically stable then and Sam was sent there to train dealers. In the midst of training riots broke out on the streets and Sam had to run for the airport.
One morning, a Swiss public listed company knocked on Sam's door and offered him a company directorship. At Sihl, Sam invented the pigmented-ink instant-dry water-resistant scratch-resistant multi-purpose recyclable polypropylene based matte inkjet coated media for outdoor poster and back-lit film.
That product became a hit with JCDecaux and ClearChannel that it enthroned HP printers as #1. HP also OEM it as a HP-branded media. Sam established many distributors in Japan, China, India, Korea, Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, & Hong-Kong.
Sam startup ECO★SAM | SAM★INK® in the year 1999 making inks for Konica Minolta KM 512i and Epson DX5 printheads.
Sam toiled punishing 16-hour days. In the mornings, he would wear down the heels of his shoes on the pavements looking for new clients. Many turned him away because he had become a one-man-show. In the afternoons, he painted big blotches of sweat on his shirt and strained muscles on his back from packing ink bottles and carrying them to customers.
Many customers' shops were on the second or third-floor and he carried them up as customer service. In the night, he gets ink under his fingernails from filling cartridges and cleaning up the work area. He would try to wash off the stains before carrying and reading to his children at bedtime but too often he would be too exhausted to do so.
On the weekends, he would answer clients' call to repair their printers. In between activities, whenever he remembers, he would be on his phone requesting for payments that were overdue. His wife, Dr. Grace Kwan, while maintaining her medical practice, walked with him every step of the way.
It has been a long hard road with many wrong turns and dead-ends. Sam has made plenty of mistakes and has his share of follies leading to disasters. In an unforgiving economic climate, these mistakes have almost sunk the business. No doubt, the road ahead will have many more twists and turns. But he made sure these mistakes do not happen again.
This has proven his resilience and has shown his determination to succeed. Using his personal money, he carefully developed SAM★INK® | ECO★SAM into a medium-size ISO9001 ISO14000 manufacturer. Sam understands family challenges even now. He and his wife Dr. Grace have three children, Elizabeth, Victoria, & Alexander. The key to his success is that he likes to compete and hates to lose.