On a roll in tireless fight to sell tyres online

On a roll in tireless fight to sell tyres online

Ler Hwee Tiong had a life-changing brush with the law when he was 15.

He had gone to an Orchard Road department store with a bunch of friends when some of them were caught shoplifting. Mr Ler himself did not steal anything but dashed out of the store when told by his light-fingered pals to do so.

From atap hut boy to founder of multi-million dollar business

A security guard grabbed him by his collar, and he ended up at the Tanglin Halt Police Station where he was interrogated and detained until the wee hours of the morning.

No charges were pressed but the incident sobered him enough to take stock of his life.

"It made me think if I was wasting my life away. Studies were not on my agenda, nothing was," says Mr Ler, now 42.

He decided to straighten himself out, and he did. Today, he is one of the founders and managing director of Tyrepac, Asia's first tyre e-commerce website. Last year, turnover for Tyrepac - which also operates in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and South Korea - totalled more than $3 million.

Polite and chatty, the youthful entrepreneur is the second of three children of a bus driver and a seamstress.

He grew up in an attap hut in a kampung in Jalan Jelapan, where the Bukit Panjang housing estate now is.

His mother did most of the parenting since his father - who walked out on his family about 20 years ago - was not around much when Mr Ler and his siblings were growing up.

"My mother had it really hard because she had to look after my paternal grandparents who were not easy to please," he says.

His late grandfather was especially demanding.

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