Having faith and conquering mountains
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You might know Melvin as one of the co-founders of Extreme Supercars. That business has since ceased operations, but Melvin’s story is still making its way around. He fought cancer at age 17 and underwent the amputation of his right leg in the process, not knowing what will happen next. After Extreme Supercars, he was faced with a mountain of debts and struggled to pay them off. Fortunately, he did not pause on that note. His innovative ideas and business thinking have led him to establish MLUX Suites & Residences — a platform for property owners to rent their houses and apartments with full agent services. Melvin is a one of a kind individual with a natural flare for entrepreneurship and he’s a great example to others out there who might be experiencing a roadblock in this season of their lives. You’ll soon understand that as you read our conversation with him.

How did this idea of assisting people to rent their properties come about?

It started when I rented my first suite in Hartamas. I was staying there sporadically so I figured why not rent it out on Airbnb and make some money from it? I soon found myself renting out a few more units and eventually people started approaching me asking for advice on how they can do the same and if I could manage their properties for them. I do this for cars as well - many people buy expensive cars but they’re not able to pay their monthly instalments. Inability to pay off your commitments is one of the main reasons why most Malaysians file for bankruptcy. Apart from that, you have families with one too many cars and most of the time they’re just parked idly in the garage, so why not help these people make money from that?  

You’re always looking out for new ideas to improve efficiency, so you decided to install an automatic function into the cars and houses you look after.

I am very hands on when it comes to doing things, and that takes up a lot of my time. Some might feel that by being your own boss you might have more time for yourself, but that may not be entirely true. Since starting the business I have been busier than ever, and instead of working the usual 9 to 5, I am literally on standby 24/7. Every time a guest checks in, the company will need to send someone over to greet and show them around; and the same applies to when they check out. Because we lacked manpower, we were not able to handle our customers efficiently and that caused complaints and negative reviews. To solve this problem, we decided to install a keyless access with 24 hours check-in for guests to manage on their own. Having an automated system frees up a lot of our time and enables us to focus on more important issues at hand. 

"...instead of looking at how bad the situation is, look at it as an opportunity to rediscover yourself and find what your calling is."
Malaysian Inspiration Melvin Tong Passion Portraits
Malaysian Inspiration Melvin Tong Passion Portraits

Before this, you were involved in a family business that rented out luxury cars and limousines. That business has now ended - what happened there? 

I have been working with my twin brother for as long as I can remember. Something happened and we had a falling out. Until this day, I can’t say that we’re on good terms. After the business closed, I was left with lots of debts that affected my family and I became stuck in that victim mindset where I didn’t know what to do next. I hadn’t enough money to pay my bills let alone afford anything else. But instead of staying in that position and crying over spilled milk, I had to find ways to move forward. The first thing I set out to do was to clear off all my debts, so I decided to sell off items that were of any value like my iPhone and laptop.

How do you stay optimistic despite all that? 

I knew I did not have the strength and courage to stand back up on my own. It’s only when you have absolutely no where else to turn, that you finally look to God for help. When everything was falling apart, He was my only source of strength and the one who helped me get back up again. Everyone goes through different phases in their lives and sometimes the challenges can break us, but instead of looking at how bad the situation is, look at it as an opportunity to rediscover yourself and find what your calling is. When I was given no choice but to leave my previous business just half a year ago, it was the most difficult thing I had to go through. But knowing that if you choose to persevere, you can do other great things and do well at it.

You see a problem as an opportunity, not a dilemma - how do you do that? 

There is no doubt that whenever I encounter a big problem, I can’t help but think negative thoughts. Problems happen all the time and they are out of our control. To me, someone successful is one who can get past the problem until they get to the other side. Some might think that the lost of my leg was a terrible misfortune, but I see it otherwise. Because of that incident, I’ve been invited to speak at conferences while getting paid a good income! Looking back five years ago, I never thought I was capable of public speaking let alone make a living out of it. 

Malaysian Inspiration Melvin Tong Passion Portraits
Malaysian Inspiration Melvin Tong Passion Portraits

Speaking of opportunities, you took the opportunity to climb Mount Everest. How was the experience like?

After climbing Mount Kinabalu six years ago, people have constantly asked me if I was going to climb Everest next. I was getting really tired of these questions so when the opportunity came, I decided to go for it [laughs]. It was a 20 day trip to get to the base camp and back down. Our faces were bloated and we had no appetite; the air was so thin that when you close your eyes you can hear your heart beat at 180 beats per minute. We’d start climbing at about 7.30am and stop at 6pm. The paths we took were so heavily covered with snow we couldn’t see where we were going. I did not have the snowshoe attached to my crutches so every step I took required more energy. My shoes were not fit for the snow either so that added to my difficulties. I was nearly on the verge of giving up when I met a fellow Malaysian who was on the way down from the mountain. He was so kind to give me his studs so that I could carry on that it nearly brought tears to my eyes. I had two friends who came along with me but they couldn’t continue so it was even more difficult to go by myself. It was a real test of strength and determination. It was after this trip that I made the decision to leave my previous company.

On your website you quoted, “nothing is impossible and love never fails” - what does this mean to you? 

This is something I carry close to my heart. I believe that in everything we do, we should do it out of love. Love holds everything together; our family, friends, colleagues, and even us as individuals. Everything else will fall into place once we let go. Whatever we do is not for ourselves, but for the people around us. Climbing Everest was one thing, but so many others have done that too so who am I to brag? But if my story can inspire and encourage those around me, then I’m more then happy to contribute my part. I believe that if you want to do something, it has to be for a purpose and it shouldn’t be for personal gain. 

How can you advise others to not fear or worry about something they’re unsure about?

I’m not a pious person but I will say this - have faith. Exactly one month ago, I was told that a recurrence of the same cancer is evident on the area where my leg was amputated. However, I know everything that happens is for a reason and if this disease comes back, then I will fight it the same way I did the first time. You’ll experience many more mountains in your life and one of them is ‘convenient fears’. We tend to give ourselves reasons and excuses not to do something and because of that, opportunities can slip past without you knowing. If you’re working and you wonder why your colleagues are getting promoted much sooner than you, it’s really easy for you to jump the gun and assume that the only reason they got promoted is because of their good looks or because they have the right network of people. We should start looking at ourselves and find ways to grow and improve.

"To me, someone successful is one who can get past the problem until they get to the other side."
Malaysian Inspiration Melvin Tong Passion Portraits
Malaysian Inspiration Melvin Tong Passion Portraits

Sitting down with Melvin was a big WOW moment for the team. Despite all he’s gone through, his faith and optimism shine through more than anything else. He pushes to go further and sets out to do more than he did before, all while making everyday count. His stint conquering Everest was just a pinch of his many achievements that we got the privilege to hear about. If there's one thing you should take away from this, it's to stray away from a victimised mindset. Go with Melvin’s belief that “disability is only a disability if you allow it to be one”. 

"Whatever we do is not for ourselves, but for the people around us."
Malaysian Inspiration Melvin Tong Passion Portraits
Malaysian Inspiration Melvin Tong Passion Portraits
Malaysian Inspiration Melvin Tong Passion Portraits

More on Melvin Tong:

Website: http://www.mlux.my

Facebook: fb.com/melvintong

Instagram: @melvintong

Twitter: @melvintong