"Being a minority business-owner is much like having a quality certificate," said Peter Wong, president of Roy Smith Company. "It is an added benefit to your customer, but it is not why they're going to do business with you. We are required to be competitive and innovative--all the things you need to succeed in receiving a customer's blessing."
Finding a balance between using diversity as a tool and not letting it become a crutch is a large part of what Wong uses to gauge success.
Having lived in the Detroit area for the past 30 years, Wong worked as a CPA with Roy Smith Company in the 80s, and then returned to purchase the company in 2000. Since taking over the company, he's spent much of his time learning the industrial gas trade. Roy Smith Company services loval and national companies with industrial gas and welding supplies. Form expert gas systems and installation to welding services, the company both sells and services all of its products. The company has an onsite repair and service center at its Detroit headquarters where customers can experience the relationship with their supplier that Wong ensures. Roy smith is one of the major suppliers of gas and welding to chrysler LLC, Detroit Edison, Johnson Controls and many other large and small businesses.
Although he takes pride in building a personal relationship with each of his customers, he'll be the first to admit that when his customers start asking specifies, he still sends them to his engineers for the right answers.
Sitting down with Wong, it is clear to see that he wears many hats. At each turn in the conversation, he pauses to "switch hats," as he calls it. Walking up in the morning, Wong is first greeted by his puppy, who he says is the most demanding part of his day. From there he switches hats and starts his day as president of Roy Smith Company. Throughout any given day, Wong rotates hats from Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce vice chair to father to committee chair and back to puppy owner once again. Committed to each of the organizations he belongs to, as well as the continual growth of his business, he looks forward to the challenge of giving all he can in each area of his life.
Growing up in Hong Kong, Wong came to Michigan to finish his accounting degree in the 70s. Originally intending to be an engineer, he quickly realized that while he loved numbers, once wires were in his hands, he was lost. "Most Asian...