Here is how it began:
The year was 1989–
I was on a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong;
Airborne and feeling bored, I reached for the in-flight magazine.
Inside, my eyes stopped, arrested by a colorful advertisement
placed by a Hong Kong OEM (original equipment manufacturer) of corporate gifts, inviting inquiries.
The ad showed samples of attractive travel bags
claimed to be made of a new type of vinyl: “BUFFALO VINYL (BV)”
that could easily pass-off as real leather.
Something interestingly new.
Continuing to gaze at the ad of bags,
an idea began to slowly take shape in my mind.
How to capitalize on the new material?
Can we build a Singapore bag brand with BV as its USP (Unique Selling Point)?
Would the new material appeal to travelers to buy?
World Traveller Luggage and Bags during its 30th Anniversary celebration
In such situations, Entrepreneur Gurus teach: Gamble, Act!
Back in Singapore, I showed the ad to Kelvin Sng.
He was equally intrigued by the BV material.
I shared my idea of developing a Singapore brand of travel bags
on the condition that we can enjoy material exclusivity.
BV would be our competitive edge.
Kelvin called the OEM and explained our wishes:
Produce the bags, grant us exclusive use of the BV material.
He agreed to both.
A trial order was then placed.
World Traveller co-founders Gary Yeang and Kelvin Sng, together with Primer Group of Companies President and Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Thai
Next, what brand name to use?
We toyed with a few and Kelvin finally chose “World Traveller”.
World Traveller bags for frequent World Travellers.
To our delight the first batch quickly sold out.
Greatly encouraged, we placed a 2nd bigger order.
Welcome, World Traveller!
In 2006, Primer purchased World Traveller and assigned it to Luggage Trading and Services, Inc. (LTS).
World Traveller has been selling great in the Philippines!
A brand booster, even Philippine Airlines cabin crew travel with World Traveller.
I’m for moving World Traveller into other ASEAN markets,
gradually grow it into a global brand.
I wish the present World Traveller team every success.
This year 2019, World Traveller turns 30!
The author along with key executives of Primer Group of Companies at the 30th Anniversary celebration of World Traveller [From left to right] Primer Group Managing Director Jerry Sy, Resident Business Speaker and consultant Francis J. Kong, President and Chief Executive Officer Jimmy L. Thai, the author Gary Yeang, Primer Uniglobe Singapore General Manager and World Traveller Co-founder Kelvin Sng, Managing Director Barry Cheung, and Managing Director Johnny Thai
Let us sing along with the late John Denver
“All my bags are packed,
I’m ready to go,
The taxi’s waiting,
I’m leaving on a jet plane…”
Gary Yeang is a graduate of the University of Western Australia with a BA Economics degree. In Australia, he started out his career as a journalist at the Perth Daily News.
Coming back to his homeland, Malaysia, he worked as a salesman for multinational companies such as Esso and in Muller & Phipps where he learned the ropes on brand distribution.
In 1977, he joined Samsonite Corporation in its headquarters in Colorado, USA. After five years, he decided to start his own business and took the opportunity to handle Samsonite’s distribution in Singapore. Shortly thereafter, their distribution business also covered Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
Gary now lives on the eastern side of Singapore with his two younger kids. He is a voracious reader who believes that “… reading is the best, fastest, proven way to improve one’s spoken and written English.”
He is regarded by the Primer Board of Directors as instrumental to the growth of the Primer Group. Gary will always be the BOD’s forever mentor.