Sisters In Business: Doing What They Love

Last update: 18/12/2014

By Murni Nasri

JOHOR BAHARU, Dec 18 (Bernama) -- Sarwani Mahmood and her older sister Juraidah are not some well-known figures with fans looking up to them but they are heroes in their own right.

The 30-year-old Sarwani and 33-year-old Juraidah, are the backbone of their family’s long running business, Perusahaan Sinarmaju.

The company produces Nagato tamarind juice sold at grocery stores, Petronas and 7-eleven outlets across the peninsular.

Sarwani or Wani is Perusahaan Sinarmaju’s Operations and Human Resource Manager, while Juraidah or Jue’s capacity is the manager of the business.

The company operates from the vicinity of their family home in Kampung Sinaran Baru in the Skudai area since it opened for business almost 26 years ago.

Family Affair

The sisters’ parents, Mahmood Ab Ghani and Kartini Talka established Perusahaan Sinarmaju in 1980.

“Our parents have always loved doing business. Father traded all sorts of stuff from selling textiles to wood on the side when he was still working in Singapore at that time.

But it didn’t work out for him until he started Perusahaan Sinarmaju in 1980. He is considered as the first Malay manufacturer for canned sardines,” Wani told Bernama’s Lifestyle and Youth in a recent interview.

The company was commissioned by the Ministry of Defence to produce canned sardines and the venture went on for about seven years, added Jue, but due to the increasing production cost, Perusahaan Sinarmaju had to change direction.

That was when their parents decided to focus only on the production of Nagato tamarind juice, said Jue.

Young Helpers

The sisters, along with their siblings, received early training on the business. “I started helping out when I was six years old. Together with my brothers and sisters, we would chip in by doing tasks from packing to promoting the products at farmers’ markets around Johor Baharu,” said Wani.

During the interview, this writer noticed a framed newspaper cutting on the office wall, headlined ‘Cara Baru Perkenal Barangan Keluaran Keluarga’ (New Way of Promoting Family Products) dated Jan 18, 1990.

Asked about it, Wani said: “That was our picture taken by a newspaper photographer. I was about six years old and we were helping our parents to promote our products at a farmers’ market”.

The siblings would start the day very early in the morning, as early as 6 am, to go to these farmers’ markets, Jue said.

Once on location, Wani would put on sandwich boards with the prices of their products written on them while Jue would be making noise with a bell and they would be walking around the market, letting people know where to get the products.

Doing It For Love

As the manager of Perusahaan Sinarmaju, Jue oversees the whole operations of the company from production to customer service, while Wani focuses on the factory’s operations and human resource.

When asked if she had any inclination to work for other people, Jue said: “I love doing business and I love running my family’s business. I have no regrets. I have faith in this company and I want to see it grow big”.

Jue said she received an offer to pursue her studies, but was willing to put it on hold to help run the company.

On the other hand, Wani went on to pursue her studies in human resource at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and started to work full time at the family’s business upon graduation from the university.

“I have always loved studying and I felt that I needed to further my studies so I could use the knowledge back into the business, which I also love,” shared Wani.

Nagato Fruit Juices

Perusahaan Sinarmaju produces a range of bottled fruit juices namely mango, sour sop, jackfruit, lychee, papaya, watermelon and the bestsellers, tamarind and plum juices.

“At the moment, we are focusing on the production of tamarind and plum juices. We receive many orders for these two products from as far as Terengganu,” Wani added.

Perusahaan Sinarmaju, since the very beginning, has been receiving support from the Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority (FAMA), Malaysian Agricultural and Research Development Institute (MARDI), Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), Farmers’ Organisation Authority (LPP) and the Agriculture Department, said Wani.

The support that the company receives are in the form of financial aid, marketing, advice, facilities and infrastructure, added Wani.

Initially, Perusahaan Sinarmaju relied on manual labour of the founders and their children to extract the juices and pack them in glass bottles but now they have fully automated machines to do the work, thanks to these government bodies, said Wani.

Embracing Challenges

Asked on the biggest and most difficult challenge they face while running the business, Jue shared: “One time, we received an order of 1,000 cartons to be sent to Pahang, which we managed to complete.

But, the products were spoilt because the area was flooded and the customer sent the order back to us, unpaid for. We had to take them all back and produce new ones for them.”

It was truly a learning experience for them, said Wani, and both sisters are resigned to the fact that in business, challenges are abound.

“It’s all part and parcel of doing business. In order to move forward, we have to embrace these challenges, no matter how difficult or how big the challenges are, we have to be patient. Giving up is not an option,” said Wani.

When asked about the one advice that she can impart to the young people involved in business, Jue said: “Be confident in what we do, have faith and targets and be passionate so when we are faced with challenges, we will not falter. Get up and move forward until we succeed”.

Nagato Minuman Asam Jawa by Perusahaan Sinarmaju can be found on Facebook.