An interview with the heiress of Nu-Set
“I started at our manufacturing site in China, worked my way up from the warehouse to the shipping desk and then to the sales desk,” Caron Ng, Nu-Set’s vice president of business development, begins her story of rebellion, regret, reflection and revitalization.
Ng’s journey holds many nuggets of wisdom, fortitude and inspiration for entrepreneurs.
Her grandparents started a manufacturing business in Hong Kong more than 50 years ago when the Ng family was uprooted from China during the Chinese Cultural Revolution and fled to Hong Kong. In 1993, Ng’s maternal grandparents led the whole family from Hong Kong to Los Angeles, fearing China would once again occupy Hong Kong.
They continued their business operations in Hong Kong and focused on lockboxes, and Nu-Set was born. Nu-Set is a third-generation, woman-owned lock manufacturer whose breadth of products includes padlocks, door locks and lock boxes.
Ng has successfully placed the company’s products in brick-and-mortar stores, such as Home Depot and Lowes, and online retailers like Amazon. She has spearheaded custom solutions for realtors, emergency access and car sharing. Even with all her success and awards, Ng still finds it challenging to be a female co-owner in a traditionally Chinese family-operated business.
With the entire family watching, Ng is dutifully charged with rebuilding an empire. Like many Chinese fables, she is most certainly a heroine, with her family deeply rooted in customs and her conviction in breaking the rules.
“I was born in Hong Kong. When I was 11, my sister and I went to the U.K. to study…I am the only grandchild out of nine in the U.S. who did not attend an Ivy League school, [talk] about a rebel!” she says.
Ng contends with gaining the trust of her parents to run the company.
She shares, “My father would have to share his approval for my decisions to give my parents comfort. He would have to validate me.”
Her success and drive are fueled by breaking stereotypes and convincing her parents to let go of the reins.
“They always worry [that] I fail or fall. I have to say ‘Let me do it. I got it’,” Ng confides. “It’s a constant challenge.”
Like many business development professionals, her role includes late nights, weekends and a lot of travel.
Ng grew up under the care of nannies and in boarding school where she only saw her parents once a year. She reflects, “Kids grow fast. I don’t want to miss that piece [of my children’s lives]. I would regret that.”
With that in mind, Ng is careful to balance her schedule to focus on daytime networking events, so she can be home most evenings.
As mom or mogul, Ng’s mantra is “Keep dreaming; keep working hard, and keep thinking big.”
Her advice to any new, emerging or established business owner is “It’s really important to define your strength. As a product supplier, I have to tell my customers 10 items about our value.”
She mentors other women business owners and emphasizes defining why their products are unique. Ng adds, “Be able to tell what is so special about you, the product and how you can bring the value to your customer.
Ng shares that the key to her success is surrounding herself with great people. She garners support of fellow women business owners through educational experiences, such as Ernst & Young’s Strategic Growth Forum, the Women’s Business Enterprise Council’s Platinum Supplier Program and UCLA Management Development for Entrepreneurs.
“I have very good friends. Because of [them], I can stay on track, meet up and have accountability. We have individual styles, and I learn through the process,” she says.
Ng’s beautiful spirit, humble demeanor and quick wit are a wonderful combination coupled with her savvy business acumen.
She shares her future goals of building and selling the business to become a missionary or angel investor. One of her favorite stories is Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare.
“I can relate to that character not needing the limelight, but I am [so] fulfilled that I can help others,” she says.
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