The food & beverage industry in Singapore takes no prisoners. It will eat you up and spit you out if you let it. The ghosts of numerous restaurants are testament to the field’s punishing nature.
But the F&B industry also promises bountiful rewards for those who can successfully manoeuvre the pitfalls. 2017 A-Lister, and chef and co-owner of The 1925 Brewing Co. Ivan Yeo is well on his way to building a name for himself and the company.
Due to his expansion plans and massive inventory, we gave Yeo a Brother label printer (QL-820NW) that we reckoned would help him with the business.
What inspired you to go into the punishing F&B business?
When my design business failed phenomenally in 2012, I was distraught. I was lost for awhile and spent more time cooking at home. On many occasions, my brother brought me to various bars and restaurants with the hope of cheering me up.
During this time, I was given an opportunity to help manage a small bistro. During that short period of time running the place, I was convinced I should pursue F&B as a business. I had a couple more serious discussions with my brother, and through the guidance of a mentor from the industry, The 1925 Brewing Co. was conceived in November 2013.
How have the past four years been like for you and The 1925 Brewing Co.? I was told 2018 will be a big year for you.
We started out in a two-storey shophouse at 369 Jalan Besar with four 600-litre stainless steel fermentation tanks brewing all the in-house craft beers. Today, the company has grown.
We recently opened our second outlet along Joo Chiat Road, which serves modern Teochew cuisine paired with craft beers. We’re also setting up a third and fourth outlet, focusing on takeaways. It’s expected to be ready by mid-2018. Our recent acquisition of a local distribution startup has helped to extend our distribution reach to other restaurants and bars, not only in Singapore, but in the South East Asian region.
The company is also building a larger central brewery to cope with the exploding demand for its beers. It’s expected to completed mid-2018.
It must be stressful.
Yes, the stress is definitely mounting day by day. I lost weight and sleep and with an eight-month-old baby and a wife, whose patience is often tested by the demands of the business, it got quite difficult. But slowly and surely, things are getting better as we reach the end of the tunnel.
I’m glad to say that my partners and I are self-aware. We are attuned to our own weaknesses and strengths, and because of this, we seek out others who are better than us and collaborate with them, using the opportunity to learn. We are also extremely persistent in data analytics. No decision is based on emotions, but backed by data, either from case studies or the ones we have mined from our own business.
We do business very much like our grandfather would. We build honest relationships with everyone we come in contact with, without the expectation of business in mind. And when a business opportunity arises, we always take care of the people whom we have had a relationship first. I think this is refreshing especially when Asian business values are slowly eroded by the more charismatic Western ones.
All these factors helped in our expansion.
What do you like and dislike about the Brother printer we gave you?
The Brother printer I am using is a label printer, which is extremely handy in an inventory-intensive business like ours. My favourite feature is the inbuilt cutter as well as the ability to to print via my mobile phone, including barcodes, etc.
The app also comes with handy templates for me to use and is extremely convenient, especially when I am too lazy to lug around my laptop.
If I had to really nit-pick about something, I would think that despite its size, it’s still not as portable as I would like it to be.
How have you been using the Brother printer to help your business?
Labelling of our inventory is critical so that we do not spend unnecessary time to guess. The label printer has been printing countless labels for our restaurant. Previously we used to write by hand but as you know, handwriting differs from employee to employee so it can be hard to guess what’s written sometimes (laughs).
Now the printer dates ingredients, documents the fermentation of beers and spirits for our tanks and bottles, and a whole lot of other things. The printer prints directly on stickers so application on any surface is really convenient.
And because it comes with its own cutter, it saves us time having to calibrate the printer to print to size and all that fuss, reducing unnecessary wastage of stickers or paper as well.
Prior to using the Brother printer, what were your thoughts about the brand?
To be honest, the impression was that Brother printers were usually cheap off-the-shelf solutions, and not as high tech or connected as I thought it should be. But I was impressed to see a well-designed app downloadable from the Apple Store. The setup of the hardware and software was also relatively fuss free. I didn’t even need to look at the instruction manual to get it working for the first time.
I would definitely recommend this Brother label printer to those in an inventory-intensive business like mine. It’s handy, affordable and most importantly, it makes my business processes cleaner and more efficient.