TRANSLATION | Eugenia Yang
甫推開欣臨企業大門，身著卡其套裝的董事長陳海天正迎向我們前來，精神矍鑠的他，依舊不失風采。憶起欣臨成立的種種過往，炯炯有神的雙眸不時流露真摯情感，體現於牆上滿佈的合作感謝狀，與藏於和睦家庭照背後的人生座右銘「If we cannot change the product, then please change the way how we present the product.」以敦厚堅定的語調，緩緩道出跨越一甲子的代理濃情。
流淌貿易血脈，欣臨企業的前身為中興食品，汲取父親陳鴻斌之創業精神，其細膩、勤奮、敏銳造就了欣臨企業的最大資產。回溯年少過往，董事長陳海天表示身為老大的他，從小便受到父親極其嚴峻的要求，如每日下班後的統整匯報、正襟危坐的隔空通話，乃至樹上小鳥掉羽毛的緣由也需有所眉目，伴隨歲月成長，也使他逐漸明白鋼鐵父親下的一番苦心，「父親過世的時候，是我抱著他，其實心情很複雜，一輩子被他罵什麼東西，全部都忘記了，最後他是整個臉放鬆、面帶微笑，What a beautiful ending.」
談及企業經營的哲學，董事長陳海天曾以「耕耘菜園」作為巧妙比喻，其精髓便在於敏銳觀察力的養成，「我有一個很糟糕的缺點，從小習慣身先士卒。」總是親臨前線，積累了擅於參透他人思想的領導技能，「因為我前半段的人生事必躬親，所以我後半段就可以比較輕鬆、有經驗的去 leading my people, that’s life, this is simple life.」對於下一代的傳承，董事長陳海天笑答如今與總經理陳德仁的關係能以簡單一句話概括，「從我是他爸爸到老闆到同事，現在他是我哥哥。」更期許兒子能放慢腳步，拿捏好衝刺速度，達到恰如其分之平衡。放眼欣臨企業的日後展望，董事長陳海天透露近期有兩個待完成目標，「第一是蓋一個台灣地區的營運中心，第二則是倉儲制度化。」
笑說自己最大的興趣便是待在辦公室，「Keep it for life. Keep it for enjoy. Keep it for happiness.」，慧眼如炬的透徹思維，令人足以期待欣臨下一個甲子傳奇。
The moment we push open the doors of Taiwan Hsin Lin Enterprise (THL Enterprise), we are greeted by Chairman David Chen and his energetic demeanor. Reflecting upon the history of the company, his eyes shine with sincerity as they look towards the wall covered in certificates of past partnerships and beautiful family portraits. In a tone of confidence, Chen shares his life motto—”If we cannot change the product, then please change the way how we present the product”—and unravels the stories and emotions behind the century-old trading company.
With its predecessor being Zhongxing Food, THL Enterprise channels the entrepreneurial spirit of Chen’s father, Hong-Bin Chen, with the late founder’s meticulous nature, diligence and sensitivity being the company’s greatest asset. Looking back on his childhood, Chen, the oldest child, grew up with his father’s strict upbringing. From the daily after-work reports, the stern calls, to getting to the bottom of every small detail, he gradually understood his father’s painstaking efforts as he grew up. “I held him in my arms when he passed away. It was such a complex feeling, it made me forget about all the yelling and scolding. In his last moments, he was relaxed and smiling. What a beautiful ending.” As for his mother, Chen recalls the heartwarming times they used to spend cooking together in the kitchen. Of all the dishes she had made, the fried prawns with tomato sauce is his absolute favorite. Later on, like inheriting her culinary skills, he even invents his own alteration—white wine garlic prawns—while using spice products distributed by THL Enterprise. “My mother is an interesting person,” Chen says as his eyes redden while looking at the framed picture of his mother, “She doesn’t want her obituary in white, she wants it in pink.”
Understanding the Philosophy of Life
A well-known distributor in Taiwan, THL Enterprise underwent countless changes. In the past five years, its revenue and profit had been growing, distributing over 60 different products. It is safe to say that THL Enterprise is now the largest international distributing platform of the nation. While every single product has its own story and history, Chen laughs and says perhaps it all started because he loves to snack. “When I was younger, I used to love chocolate. Almost all the chocolate brands were distributed by us.” When asked what was the biggest turning point in his life, he remembers the time when he got the opportunity to represent a renowned foreign brand. Excited, he immediately built an executive team for the collaboration. It all went smoothly until a few years later, the brand took back their rights of agency with no warning. After a painstaking six months, Chen eventually understood the importance of risk diversification. “I can’t allow a brand to have such a big effect on the company’s overall performance. Ever since then, I try my best to place an equal emphasis on all the brands so that none of them can do the company harm.” His experience also reminds him of an interesting philosophy taught by his father—business is like a candy tied to a string, only after completely digesting it can it become yours.
Building the Right Mindset
Speaking of his philosophy of business management, Chen compares it to cultivating a vegetable garden, the essence of which lies in acquiring keen observation skills. “One of my weaknesses is that I am used to being the first to charge at the head.” Always putting himself at the frontline, he accumulated the leadership skills that allowed him to understand the mind of others. “Since I had to do everything on my own in the first half of my life, it became easier for me to lead my people in the second half. That’s life, this is simple life.” When it comes to passing everything onto the next generation, Chen smiles and says he can easily summarize his relationship with Terence Chen, the president of THL Enterprise, in one sentence. “From being his father, to being his boss and colleague, he is now my older brother.” To achieve the right balance, he aspires for his son to slow down his pace and find the right speed. Setting his eyes on the future of THL Enterprise, Chen reveals that he has two goals to accomplish. “The first is to build a regional operation center in Taiwan, and the second is to institutionalize the warehouses.” Laughing, he says he loves spending time at the office. “Keep it for life. Keep it for enjoyment. Keep it for happiness.” As his eyes shine with wisdom, we can’t help but look forward to THL Enterprise’s next legendary century.