Joey Lin was still in university when he started to shop around Asian-made packaging products to local Vancouver food manufacturers.
“At that time, 12 years ago, the packages that I saw in retail stores were not that pretty,” Lin said. “They were not that high-end compared to the ones I saw in Asia.”
Lin’s father owns a packaging factory in Taiwan, and his family had been in the packaging business for over 30 years. But when Lin was in his mid-teens, the family moved to Coquitlam, and Lin completed high school and university in Canada.
Lin now runs Taipak Enterprises Ltd., a company with a foot in both worlds. Today, the business employs 20 people. The company also operates in Toronto and has plans to expand to markets like Calgary, Montreal or the United States.
Lin’s first customer in Vancouver was Superior Tofu; he estimates that about 30% of Vancouver-area food products companies are now customers. At the start, he kept a close watch on products in grocery stores and was always ready to make his pitch.
“If I saw something at the retail level where the packaging was not that good, I’d say, ‘Hey, can I do some packaging for you?’”
While he had some early success at making sales, it wasn’t easy for the recent university grad to make the decision to take the plunge and start his own company.
He now often hires young employees who have just completed school. His advice to them? Dream big – but make sure you’ve done your homework and are prepared to work hard.
He credits his family’s move to Canada with opening his eyes to all the possibilities that are out there, for both life and career.
“In Taiwan, we don’t really have a chance to do what we want to do,” he said. “But here in Canada I can decide what I want to do.”