Lim Wee Chai - Playing the long game [BTTV]

KUALA LUMPUR: The world's largest glove maker Top Glove Corp Bhd may be down, having seen five quarters of consecutive losses, but it is not out, as proven by its illustrious founder, Tan Sri Dr Lim Wee Chai.

The company's fortunes have reversed quite sharply from its heyday of just four years ago.

Then it was just a stone's throw away from surpassing Malayan Banking Bhd to have the largest market capitalisation, fuelled by high demand for medical gloves.

Today, the company, along with the rest of the once high flying glove industry, grapples with high costs and weak demand exerting pressure on average selling price.  

Its market capitalisation has fallen from just four years ago to RM7.29 billion.

However, Lim remains undeterred. Despite the challenges, he is optimistic about a turnaround for the company in the next 12 months, returning to its former glory as global glove demand gradually increases.

Lim remains consistent in his aspirations for his company. 

He dreams of propelling Top Glove into the esteemed ranks of Forbes and Fortune Global 500 companies, targeting a sales revenue of US$30 billion, a net profit of US$3 billion, and expanding to 140 factories with a worldwide workforce of 100,000 employees.


Lim's journey is not about financial success, it is a testament to his dedication to excellence and visionary leadership, all while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

While many top leaders in the world contemplate retirement for a well-deserved rest, Lim embraces a more frenetic approach. Rather than settling into a life of leisure, he is on a mission to stay healthy and live to 120 years old.

Lim's pursuit for longevity is to be able to contribute positively each day, not only to his own life but also to the long term success of Top Glove.




Asked what motivates him to continue pursuing new ventures and projects, even when Top Glove faces hurdles, he said his motivation comes from a simple mantra he learned since childhood: "Think Big and Dream Big."

He explained, "I've been taught to 'Think Big and Dream Big,' and that pushes me to 'Do Big and Achieve Big.' Self-motivation is the best kind. Waiting for others to motivate us is a losing game."

Lim developed his business skills by assisting his parents during his childhood when they owned a small rubber plantation, giving him early exposure to the rubber trade in a Chinese New Village of Titi, Jelebu, Negeri Sembilan.  

Despite facing challenges and earning only a small profit margin, he learned the value of persistence. 

This determination has shaped him into the person he is today. — Chairman of Top Glove, operating 49 factories worldwide, with 788 production lines and producing over 95 billion gloves annually.


Lim's journey in the corporate world took a significant turn when he became a part of Top Glove, a company founded by him and his wife in 1991 that, the company now at the age of 32 in 2023, is considered young and vibrant. 

"I would like to see Top Glove continue to be a market leader and innovator in the healthcare manufacturing sector, doing our part to ensure human protection globally," he added.

Lim still sees a bright future despite the challenges faced by the glove industry. "The glove industry may be going through a difficult time now but the long term prospects are still good because gloves are an essential item with no viable replacement," he explained.

He also incorporates business ethics, including honesty, integrity, and transparency, for good mental health and reflected in the company culture, where every meeting starts with a business ethics clap.

Being at the helm of a company that is already a leader does not make Lim complacent. In the competitive world of business, he frequently asks, "What's next?" This mindset drives a culture of continuous improvement and innovation at Top Glove. For Lim, staying ahead means evolving, pushing boundaries, and staying nimble in the face of change.

"This is why it is important to be healthy and have a positive attitude. When we are healthy and positive, big problems become small problems, and small problems eventually become "no problem".

"I believe all problems can be resolved when we are transparent and work together as a united team. If we do not know, we must ask. If we know, we must tell," he confidently expressed.


At Top Glove, the message is clear: "Corruption and bribery are crimes. Be honest. No cheating." This message is displayed on badges worn by employees and in every meeting room, reflects the company's commitment to tackling corruption and promoting honesty.

Lim sees each person as a financial statement. He said it is important to ensure a positive overall contribution. "We work extra to cover the M.A.C.C—mistakes, accidents, cheating, and corruption costs, which are very high," he explains.

"I believe in transparency. I also believe in doing good things. When we do good things, we don't have time to do bad things. We can be transparent because we have nothing to hide," Lim adds.



Lim, a figure dedicated to making a positive impact, shares a simple yet profound vision for the legacy he hopes to leave within his organisation and beyond. 

His focus lies in advocating for the significance of health as the ultimate wealth. 

"I aim to make a positive difference in the lives of the people around me and leave a positive legacy firstly by spreading the message on the importance of health."

Lim's goal is to nurture a spirit of entrepreneurship and cultivate an appreciation for the opportunities to work, contribute positively, and learn. 

"I also hope to play an integral role in grooming current and future generations of leaders by imparting my knowledge, and inculcating in them healthy practices and ethical values," he adds.

On the organisational front, Lim takes pride in the contributions of Top Glove to the global community, especially during the recent Covid-19 pandemic. He expresses the honor the company feels in protecting and saving lives worldwide through their gloves. 

Lim wants Top Glove to continue this impactful work for an extended period, highlighting a dedication to making a lasting difference on a global scale.

Despite having to manage a huge corporation for six and a half days a week, Lim believes that a successful business begins with a strong foundation of good health.



Lim believes that good health is the foundation for success in both good and challenging times. He focuses on three key aspects of health: mental, physical, and financial.

"To be successful as a business or individual, we believe it is most important to have the three Healths: mental, physical and financial," he emphasises.

"As I plan to live to 120, I must ensure my body and organs stay fit and healthy enough to serve me for 120 years. Following the 5 Healthy Wells is key to this. My life target is to live healthily and gain an additional 40 years of life so that I can continue to contribute positively and add value every day until I am 120 years old," proclaimed the 65 year-old man. 

A positive mindset is Lim's starting point. He believes that maintaining a positive outlook allows him to spot opportunities in challenges and find the silver lining in every situation. 

"Staying positive enables us to recognise opportunities amidst challenges and see the bright side of every situation. It enables us to motivate ourselves, rather than depend on others to motivate us," he said in an interview with Business Times.  

His day begins with attention to the first health, 'Clean Well'. He follows a routine of brushing his teeth three times a day and bathing twice a day, emphasising the importance of cleanliness. This practice sets the tone for a day focused on overall well-being.

"I wake up around 7am, stretch and start with a clean well, which is brushing my teeth and bathing. I brush my teeth 3 times a day and bathe 2 times a day," says Lim.

The second health, 'Eat Well', is addressed by Lim through a vegetarian diet. Since adopting this lifestyle in 2018, he attests to feeling healthier. "I ensure that I eat well throughout the day. I believe the optimum diet is a vegetarian diet. In 2018, I became fully vegetarian and have felt healthier since," he quipped.

'Work Well' is Lim's philosophy for his daily routine. Working seven days a week doesn't tire him because he enjoys what he does. His mantra, "Work is my hobby, Exercise is my duty, and Health is my wealth," encapsulates his approach to balancing work and health.

'Exercise Well' is the fourth health, and Lim makes time for it daily. Engaging in activities like golf, badminton, and yoga helps him stay physically fit, emphasising that regular exercise contributes significantly to overall health.

Finally, 'Sleep Well' is the fifth health, and Lim ensures he gets 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Adequate rest is fundamental for good mental and physical health, and Lim prioritises it in his daily routine.

"At the end of every day, I Sleep Well by getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. I go to bed around 11pm and get up about 7am," says Lim.

In addition to these individual health practices, Lim incorporates business ethics, including honesty, integrity, and transparency, for good mental health. These principles are reflected in the company culture, where every meeting starts with a business ethics Clap.

Lim's holistic approach to health, encompassing mental, physical, and financial well-being, forms a robust foundation for navigating life's challenges. 

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