WITH AN arm akimbo, Edward Tan paces back and forth across the dining room. The other hand has his Apple iPhone 6 glued to his ear. The executive director of Hong Seh Group has been locked in conversation with Shanghai for an hour. Breakfast has long gone cold.
Tan must have covered kilometres on the wooden floor of private club Madison Rooms in Coleman Street. It’s an important call worth $9 million. He’s sold a 100-foot Riva yacht to a VVIP in China and is ironing out the fine print. The paperwork is a necessary irritant and deals don’t get through without them.
With schedules ever changing, he is a difficult man to pin down and should have been in Shanghai attending to that all-important business deal. But he pencilled in an appointment with The Peak today and stuck with it.
The only typical thing about his daily schedule is that it begins at 7am with breakfast that is usually a ham or turkey sandwich, or bread and jam that he washes down with a glass of water. After spending time with his mum and a quick scan of the morning’s news, Tan, an only son, is off to either one of two company offices at Leng Kee and Jurong.
He broke form this morning and came to Madison Rooms, which opened as an exclusive members-only club in May. “I started coming here twice a week ever since it opened,” says Tan, as a string of text messages floods his mobile phone.
The Madison Rooms is laid out as a cosy apartment. The space is decked with armchairs, couches and coffee tables. It is private and personal, and Tan has the dining room all to himself this morning.
“It feels like my own home. I can collect my thoughts and get stuff done. I have my personal space here and can be open and communicate with like-minded individuals. Or I can take my time, just do my work and stuff, and mull over my thoughts in one place.”
Tan needs that personal space on a day he is putting the finishing touches on a hot deal that has been simmering on a stove.
He is finally off the phone. It is going to be a long day before pen is put to paper but, at last, he gets to settle down for breakfast. It’s two sunny side-ups, baked tomatoes on toast, mushrooms, beans, and a banger. The MacBook and iPad Pro are companions feeding him the latest news and e-mail.
Although Tan’s father, Alfred, is the managing director of Hong Seh, he is very much its captain. The company was founded by his grandfather and started life as a ship chandler in 1936. Over the decades, it evolved to trade in plastics, paints and chemicals. In 1982, the company ventured into the car rental business, before landing the Ferrari sports car franchise the following year. It added Maserati to its portfolio in 1999. Continue reading here.
First published in The Peak magazine