Symbolic of the term tea enterprise, Kong Wooi Fong Tea Merchants Sdn Bhd epitomises the progressive growth and success of the tea industry in Malaysia.
Liew Da Zhi started off Kong Wooi Fong in 1928 as a modest grocery store at Jalan Cheng Lock near Central Market, selling dry food supplies such as grains, tea leaves and Chinese herbs, decades after his arrival in the then Malaya from China. The business premise was shifted to half of a shop at Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur, where Kong Wooi Fong still stands today, in the same year. The year 1941 marked a major turning point for Kong Wooi Fong when Liew Da Zhi seized the opportunity to take over the existing business of the other half of the shop with then Malayan Currency $2000.
Liew Da Zhi (1879-1945), the founder of Kong Wooi Fong, was born during the China Qing dynasty’s Calendar Guang-Xu 5th year in Piweilou Village, Hepo District, Jiexi County, in the Guangdong Province of Guangzhou, China. Liew earned the admiration of his community as a benevolent and well-educated yet humble young man at an early age. With an aspiration to explore new ground, the 35-year-old Liew left China and journeyed to the then Malaya in 1911 to work as a book-keeper at a relative’s tin mining company in Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur. In the following decades, Liew employed his diligence and providence to his fullest advantage, thereby building and securing a business in tea trading for his descendants. As accomplished as he was, Liew upheld his pleasant demeanor and remained rooted. He was also ever so generous and warm to those who came to his door. The name Liew Da Zhi still projects the image of a philanthropist in his community even today.
Liew Da Zhi passed away in 1945 at the age of 64, leaving the management of Kong Wooi Fong to his son, Liew Tian Long, who then invited his business partner in tin trading Liew Thin Cheong to join Kong Wooi Fong. The latter was an honorable advisor of the Hopo Association (a subdivision of Chinese Hakka clan) in Kuala Lumpur and has been the Hon. Treasurer of the Peace Club for 40 years. Liew Thin Cheong has made many contributions to society all his life and is well respected by fellow clan.
Like his father, Liew Tian Long too was a visionary man. Apart from the tea business, Kong Wooi Fong ventured into both mining business in Sentul and poultry farming in Cheras in 1960’s. In 1970’s, Kong Wooi Fong entered into a joint venture with a housing developer, turning the farmland into a housing development project and received tens of real estate properties in return. Liew Tian Long then diversified into mining businesses in both Kuala Lumpur and in the state of Perak, fast becoming a mining tycoon. When all of his undertakings became too much to handle, Liew Tian Long eventually handed over his share in Kong Wooi Fong to his nephew whom has worked under him for over 20 years, Liew Yin Beng, in 1973.
The dynamic and gifted Liew Yin Beng followed on with the achievements of his predecessors. Under his able administration, Liew Yin Beng transformed Kong Wooi Fong further to a new era. Among his many social involvements, Liew Yin Beng was most noted for being one of the forerunners in forming the Tea Merchants Association Federation of Malaya (Today’s Tea Trade Association of Malaysia); assuming its Presidency for over a decade. He is also the founding member of the Malaysia China Chamber of Commerce, Malaysia Hakka Association, and has been the Presidents of The Peace Club, Hopo Association, etc for many years.
In September 1981, Kong Wooi Fong was registered as a private limited company. Another associated company KWF Enterprise Sdn. Bhd. was registered in September 1989. By then, Kong Wooi Fong had already become a reputed entity within South East Asia for tea trading. Apart from representing and distributing brands of tea from abroad, Kong Wooi Fong imports, wholesales and retails Chinese tea leaves and black tea dust from countries including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, China, India, Vietnam, Africa and other tea producing countries. Kong Wooi Fong has since progressed well into the 21st century under the younger family successors, namely Liew Jau Choy, Liew Choon Kong and Liew Chen Seong.
Kong Wooi Fong emerged as one of the leading packaged tea suppliers to departmental stores and retail outlets in the country following the strategic move to acquire Ten Lan Jee Sdn Bhd in August 2005, combining the strength of upstream and downstream business activities. Ten Lan Jee was renamed KWF Food Industries Sdn Bhd and became the retail arm of Kong Wooi Fong Group.
For more than half a century, Kong Wooi Fong withstood the test of time and continued to be handed down from generation to generation. At present, in addition to operating the retail store at Jalan Sultan, Kong Wooi Fong also possesses its own manufacturing plant and warehouse. With a wealth of expertise in dealing and managing the tea business, coupled with sustainable capital and extensive network, Kong Wooi Fong Group has been constantly reinventing itself and has paved the way for it to continue to venture into other tea-related enterprises in the near future.