A simple advert and an application letter, little did the proprietors know that a little call to action would mark the beginning of a 35+ business partnership and ultimately, a lifelong friendship.
Jackel Porter Co. Limited was established during the early days of 1974, with the sole offering of an Aussie coffee machine named Café Bar and its ingredients and disposable cups. The company was small with three partners and two staff. One of its partners, Dickie Sik Por Ho, would eventually grow into the sole partner who still runs the business today.
One summer day during the same year, S.P Ho found an advertisement in Hong Kong’s local English newspaper – an English company called Coinadrink seeking a coffee vending machine partner. And so, he wrote a letter to Coinadrink to apply for such partnership. Lo and behold, Roger Williams from the other side of the pond received the letter and accepted the application. And the rest, shall we say, was history.
This article has been kindly put together by Dickie’s daughter Karin, as the family look back on their relationship with Coinadrink and our Managing Director Roger Williams on Chinese New Year 2021.
The partnership started small. Roger initially sourced a durable plastic disposable cup called Conex for the Hong Kong and Macau market. Eventually, he helped Jackel Porter source various coffee dispensers, most notably GDS and N&W (now called NECTA). But it actually turned out to be a mutual relationship. By 1990, Jackel Porter had established itself as the go-to for coffee and tea solutions in offices and moved into the distilled bottled water production (who knew that water would become a trading commodity nowadays?). And it was during this decade that S.P. Ho introduced Roger into the world of distilled water. After the monumental trip to Dubai together for an IBWA convention, Roger decided to venture into the bottled water business in the UK and built out another sector in Coinadrink.
Over the last 35 years, Jackel Porter and Coinadrink supported each other in terms of products, market information and cross branding. But what makes this relationship so special is the underlying unique friendship that these two gentlemen have forged and continue to foster.
S.P. Ho never had stepped foot outside of Hong Kong in his life and it wasn’t until 1976-1978 (exact timeline is a bit hazy) that he drummed up the courage to fly to the UK to meet Roger. Landing in Heathrow was daunting as it was, but the propeller jet domestic flight left him a nervy flyer until this very day. But Roger, ever so the gentleman, greeted him at the bottom of the steps of this tiny plane and welcomed him with open arms. From then on, they would visit each other at least once a year, either to the UK or to Hong Kong, mixing business with pleasure. Over the years, both men learned more from each other. S.P. Ho quickly understood the finer things in life like drinking red wine, and Roger soon became more adventurous with his eating habits!
But what really resonates in S.P. Ho is the mentorship and guidance he found in Roger. When he first met Roger, he was impressed by his super business savvy-ness, energy, passion and gentlemanly demeanour. He really admired him. He still remembers the day that Roger collected him in his Mercedes, with the customised license plate, “RW35”. S.P. Ho made it his goal to drive one of ‘those cars’ one day and still drives a Mercedes to this day!
Their partnership and more importantly, their friendship, continues to develop. With the current circumstance, both men haven’t been able to see each other as often, but we know that they still think of each other fondly. As the daughter of S.P. Ho, I must say, Uncle Roger changed the course of my father’s life. For that, I am ever so grateful. So here, as we celebrate the Year of the Ox on Chinese New Year, I wish the partnership (and friendship) between these two gentlemen for many years to come.
A number of years later, my father asked Williams how many letters he received from the newspaper posting. He replied, “You were the only one”. Sometimes, it pays to answer a simple advert, doesn’t it?
10-11, Maple Leaf Industrial Estate, Bloxwich Ln, Walsall WS2 8TF