During the last few years, I've heard this question so many times : "How did you get into this container business?"
It's a long story. I just told the same story to 2 different people last week. Here I go again.
About 10 years ago, I flew to San Francisco in search of new opportunities for my graphic design business. With the help of a friend (who drove me around), I went about meeting publishers in various counties.
While the business meetings were not very fruitful, I traveled to lots of beautiful places in Northern California, met loads of people and did many interesting things, even working as a barrista in a friend's coffee kiosk at Cow Palace for several weeks.
Interestingly, it was during my short stint that I found out about the used container business. America is indeed a land of opportunities and the people I mingled with were very entrepreneurial. Soon, my friend and I put in some money to start a containerised storage facility in Oakland. We leased a plot of land, bought shipping containers and we were in business. It was all in my friend's name. I was supposed to go home, sit back and enjoy the profits while he ran the business. (My friend sold the business a couple of years later and went on to pursue something else.)
Meanwhile, I returned to Singapore to start a container resale business of my own. I called up one of the world's largest shipping lines and was told to go for a discussion the next day. I knew nothing about containers, yet I mustered enough courage to tell the director (of equipment management) to sell me some containers. Of course, I later found out that he's a very important and well respected man in the industry who has no time to waste on insignificant things and people.
Anyway, despite his misgivings, he listened and gave me an opportunity to sell their equipment (if I knew how). I left the building feeling like I had just struck lottery and rushed home to work on selling right away. I worked through the night (because of the time difference) and received my first order from an American buyer the next morning. In one year, I had become a regular buyer of that shipping line's equipment.
During one of our subsequent meetings, the same director revealed that when he first met me, he didn't think he would ever see me again. Little did he realise that a newbie who knew nothing about containers would stick around in the industry for so long.
Of course I would. I love my job!