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2008 'Entrepreneur of the Year' awards (8)
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13:53, November 24, 2008

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Freddie Wong, chairman and founder of Midland Holdings Ltd

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Freddie Wong started Midland in 1973 in a small office with just two employees.

Today, Midland is one of the two biggest real estate agency groups in Hong Kong, with 578 branches in Hong Kong, Macao and on the Chinese mainland. It was the first property agency to list in Hong Kong and now has two quoted companies in the territory.

Market capitalization of the flagship company was HK$3.5 billion ($451.6 million) as of June 30, 2008, 14 times higher than when it listed in 1995. Last year, its revenue rose by 92 percent to HK$3.9 billion ($503.2 million).

Midland's success has been built on innovation and leadership. The company pioneered the use of contracts for property viewings, a practice now widely adopted by the industry, and also the mortgage referral program. In addition, Wong introduced new marketing ideas to Hong Kong, including the "Open House" concept.

He also established his own charitable foundation. The company is committed to contributing 0.1 percent of its total commission revenue to the foundation to benefit charitable causes.

Q: What does entrepreneurship mean to you?

A: It means the vision, commitment and decisiveness of an entrepreneur, who should be rational, decisive and persevering.

Q: Can we share your experience of starting a new business?

A: At the beginning of a business, the entrepreneur may very well have limited knowledge about the industry. So he should live and learn, because knowledge has power and can change one's fate.

Q: What milestones in the history of Midland are memorable in the group's success?

A: In the past 35 years, Midland weathered and survived four bull periods and four bear periods and got stronger each time. My company was listed in 1995 and acquired another listed company last year.

Q: What has sustained the rapid growth of Midland?

A: For a company to grow fast, the entrepreneur needs to demonstrate entrepreneurship every day. We have always tried to expand our business downstream in the industry, such as in mortgages. We seek also daily innovation and progress because making no progress means lagging behind others.

Q: Given the success of your company and your own achievements, what are your goals and plans for the future?

A: I hope to develop the currently humble Midland into a larger group and ensure that the group will survive the current financial crisis and grow stronger and larger, as it already did in the last four low-tide periods.

Q: What advice do you have for the new entrepreneurs?

A: The entrepreneur may receive less than he invested in the early stage of undertaking a business. However, he who has the needed ability, spirit and will should stick through the challenges, for once he succeeds, he will harvest more rewards than the efforts he has paid.

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