Two Roads Diverged in a Wood…
If you had asked me 20 years ago, where I saw myself in 2018, I probably wouldn’t have imagined myself being my own boss. I definitely wouldn’t have thought about seeing my own face in news articles, on TV… but I guess life has a way of surprising you.
I‘d always wanted to run my own business. While in National Service, I enrolled for a diploma in Business Administration. But there was just one module that I couldn’t seem to pass, no matter how hard I tried. I had to make the call to give up as I was also facing some financial constraints, losing my chance to get a Diploma.
With no qualifications, there were not many jobs available to me. However, I refused to let that get me down. With prior experience in losing weight personally, health and fitness was already a passion. Thus, becoming a personal trainer was my next natural step.
This step became the greatest blessing as I got the chance to network with people from all walks of life, and learning how to manage different expectations. It was this exposure that eventually went on to shape my business philosophy of being service-oriented.
Even though I was doing well at my job, I knew that I couldn’t do this forever. I noticed that e-commerce had started to pick up steam, and that this was my chance to get in on this opportunity to start my own business.
When we first started out, we had just four men and two vans in an industry with big-name players like DHL and Fed-Ex. It was tough to find our niche, but I was determined to survive. I did some research and realised that I qualified for a number of schemes supported by the government such as the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) from IRAS and Innovation & Capability Voucher (ICV) by SPRING. After a few years, we have grown the business to eventually be able to also qualify for the SPRING’s SME Working Capital Loan.
With the help I received, Riverwood was able to build its own delivery management system and invested in vehicle GPS tracking. This meant that we could have greater oversight of all the parcels and were able to track them more effectively, giving our customers more accurate delivery timings. I also made sure that when customers came to me with complaints and feedback, I was quick to address them and make things right.
Slowly but surely, through word-of-mouth, our customer base began to grow. Last year, we clinched a major deal with Amazon Prime Now to become their third-party logistics provider for Singapore for their first launch in South East Asia. I even got to meet PM Lee, who mentioned Riverwood during his 2017 National Day Rally speech.
A Photo of Syafiq and wife, Siryana with PM Lee
One thing that people often ask me is why I chose to name my company “Riverwood”. After all, there are not many rivers or woods in Singapore. Riverwood is actually named after my grandmother’s hometown in Johor, and serves as a constant reminder to me, to never forget the humble beginnings of my business.
A Photo of Syafiq and family at ‘Sungai Papan’
Looking back at my life journey so far, I am thankful for the support of my family and friends, especially my wife, Siryana who has stood by me through it all. It was hard at first, but now I have realised my dream of giving my family a stable, comfortable life. I may not have taken the conventional path to get to where I am today, but I took the one less travelled by, and that, has made all the difference.