AS A student in Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Mr Vincent Lim excelled at volleyball.
He was a member of the Singapore national teams which took part in the South-east Asian Games in 1983, 1985 and 1987.
These days, the 41-year-old is jumping high and hitting the ball squarely in business as managing director of BH Global Marine.
The company's sales in the first half of last year jumped 67 per cent to $22.7 million, while net profit rose 50 per cent to $5.2 million.
The mainboard-listed firm supplies about 10,000 marine electrical products to ships which call at Singapore ports. It also exports those products to the Middle East, China and Japan.
Mr Lim believes fengshui has something to do with all that money pouring in.
'I bought my home in 2004 because the fengshui was good. We get a sea view, a lot of daylight enters the home and the air circulation is good. The fengshui is helping my business,' he says over coffee at his $1.57 million condominium unit in East Coast.
Q With your business doing well, how do you enjoy the rewards?
A : I'm a workaholic. I have to be, as the company is growing fast. Every day, I send my children to school and reach the office at 7.30am. I'll work until 9pm or even 10pm.
Every year, we have a short holiday because I can't afford to spend much time on holidays. For example, last December, we drove to Port Dickson and Sunway Lagoon in Malaysia.
Q How do you invest your money?
A : About 10 years ago, we sold our Hougang HDB maisonette for $500,000 and used $300,000 to buy a childcare centre in Orchard Road. My wife runs it.
Within three years, we got our capital back. It's like an ATM for my wife, so I don't have to give her an allowance.
Last year, we bought two more childcare centres - in Yishun and Bukit Batok - jointly with my brother-in-law and his wife. The return on investment has also been good.
These are our biggest investments, aside from our shares in BH Global.
Q Any other spare money? What do you do with it?
A : A lot is spent on our kids, saving for their education and buying insurance policies.
My wife puts a few hundred dollars into each of their bank accounts every month.
I have also insured myself for $5 million through a mix of whole-life, term and endowment policies. I have to make sure that when I'm not around, the family is still well supported.
Including my children's policies, I pay more than $100,000 in premiums a year.
Q Isn't there some luxury in your life?
A : Well, I have a BMW 7-series car, which I bought last year for less than $220,000.
Q Any property investments?
A : There are four shophouses in Jalan Besar and a warehouse in Kallang which are held by a holding company owned by me and my siblings. The rental from these properties is about $30,000 a month.
Q Were they bought at rock-bottom prices?
A : One of them was bought by my father a long time ago. We bought another three during the property peak in 1996 for about $4.5 million. Their values dropped subsequently and the banks wanted us to repay part of the loan.
It was tough during the Asian financial crisis. We didn't pay ourselves bonuses for a few years and we even loaned our savings to the company.
Q Do you invest in shares?
A : Our holding company owns 65 per cent of BH Global and receives dividends paid to BH Global shareholders.
My siblings and I are pretty close, and we invest as a group. Usually, my eldest brother Alvin and I will decide on the investments.
If I say 'yes' and he says 'yes', then we go ahead. If he says 'yes' and I say 'no', and vice-versa, then we stop there.
Q What shares are your money in?
A: The oil and gas industry is doing well and will continue to do so for the next few years.
We own marine-related stocks such as Labroy Marine, Beng Kuang and Tiong Woon.
We don't touch tech and property stocks as we are not familiar with the businesses.
In the past, I got burnt investing in tech stocks such as Creative Technology, Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing and Pacific Century.
Q Any investments outside of Singapore?
A : It's not easy for us to monitor the stock market as we are busy with our daily work. That's why we have a private banker to help us, and we were recently granted more than a million shares of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China during its initial public offering - the world's largest.
We paid about $700,000 for the shares.
At the end of last year, we also invested $250,000 in a British fund that invests in Vietnamese companies.
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