The lure of the King of Fruits has steered Hernan Corporation to become the country’s largest durian exporter breaking into the China, US and Australian markets. Company founder and Group CEO Anna Teo tells AWANI Review’s Ibrahim Sani how she made the switch from cabin crew to moving Malaysian goods and fruits to feed pent-up overseas demand.
“Actually, I started off as a trading company” she admitted. “Being an ex-stewardess, I knew that I must have to do something after my flying career ended” she added.
In the late 1990’s, Anna realised that many Malaysian products are still absent in large cities like London and Paris. After her career with Malaysia Airlines came to an end, she started exporting anything and everything Malaysian in full container bulk loads to these cities.
“I was a Knoll agent. I was an Adabi agent. I was practically everyone’s agent. The 20 foot container shipping was my business”.
It was then a buyer asked her, ‘why not you export durians too?’. The perplexing issue about exporting fresh fruit – and more so durian – is the need to keep the ‘cold chain’ mechanism intact, while continuously adhering to the various food regulations of these markets.
“It wasn’t easy. And initially, it wasn’t profitable either” she recollected. “But after my first durian shipment to Australia, the same customer came back and said he wanted more. It was then I realised that there could be a serious demand coming from exporting durians” she exclaimed.
Fast forward two decades, the company Anna started is now an extremely profitable business, with an annual turnover that is close to RM30 million. Her challenge now is very different.
“I want to grow my company further. I need capital, and I need partners. If I can merge with someone, or raise funds either through private placement or through the LEAP market at Bursa, I will need to figure out how, and soon” she noted.
Hernan Corporation is currently servicing the China market and demand for durian there is insatiable. “The demand that is growing year on year is exponential. Today maybe a lot, but the year after that can be five or ten fold. And the year after that is even bigger” she said.
Watch the interview to learn more about Anna’s business and management strategy, in building the biggest durian exporting company in the nation.