The Loy family’s story of why they got into education deviates slightly from it being a means to escape chronic poverty. For them, education was an opportunity to get back on their feet after a hard fall.
“After my father died in 1997, his whole business went under. We lost everything — we didn’t even own a house. We only had one second-hand car for the whole family. We were all in debt because we had guaranteed his loans,” says Datuk Loy Teik Ngan of the drastic turn of events following the death of Tan Sri Loy Hean Heong, who founded MBf Group in 1963.
“All his assets were sold by the bank to pay off his loans, but it was not enough. So I had to go into restructuring. We were looking for a business to start and when the opportunity to acquire a very small stake [in Taylor’s Education Sdn Bhd] arose, it was something we could come up with some money and get a bank loan for. This was in 2001.”
That minor investment has grown multifold and, today, Loy is a majority stakeholder and group CEO of Taylor’s Education Group (TEG), which has a university, a college and six international schools in its portfolio.
The Taylor’s name is synonymous with education. For nine years since the launch of the Putra Brand Awards in 2010, Taylor’s University has won the gold award in the education and learning category. It was placed 109 in the QS Asia University Rankings 2020, and 14th globally last year for hospitality and leisure management under the QS World University Rankings.
Now friends jest with Loy, “Waah, you guys are printing money.”
“I say, that’s what everybody thinks until they try to open a school,” he says as he settles into a chair at Garden International School (GIS) in Mont’Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, one of the four brands TEG owns. The others are Australian International School Malaysia, Nexus (one facility each in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore) and Taylor’s International.
“Like all products and services, education is tempered by demand and supply. If supply is way too much, any product or service will suffer. There are many, many private schools just in the Klang Valley. A lot of them [operate] under capacity and below break-even.”
Loy, 58, was not exactly wet behind the ears when he acquired Taylor’s. The economics graduate joined MBf Finance Bhd as a credit officer upon his return from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, before moving to Carte Blanche Sdn Bhd, where he did marketing.
In 1987, spotting an opportunity in vacation timesharing, he founded Leisure Holidays Bhd. Six years later, he became the first chairman of Malaysia Holiday Timeshare Developers’ Federation, a role that saw him leading discussions with government authorities to formulate legislation for the industry.
In 1995, Loy bought into Holiday Tours & Travel Sdn Bhd, which continues to serve travellers and perform functions for various airlines today.
But nothing could have prepared him for what happened next.
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