Peter Lau is the managing director of one of Hong Kong’s top five commercial printing houses. — Banker-turned-photography buff Peter Lau believes Hong Kong’s artists rank among the world’s best. Rebecca Lo zooms in on Asia One’s various offspring.
Peter Lau may be the last person you’d expect to own a bookstore and a printing house – he doesn’t enjoy reading.
“I was a terrible student,” the 52-year-old founder of Asia One says, laughing.
“My father didn’t want me to fail another grade, so he shipped me off to an all-boys boarding school in Canada from grade 9 onwards.”
The Hong Kong native spent 10 years in Ontario where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in business.
While many from the subtropics may shiver at the thought of years in northern Ontario, Lau loved it.
“I taught my wife and our two boys Thomas and Jason how to downhill ski,” he says.
“I have a wooden sea kayak. And I have two antique boats. One is a 1930 American motorboat named Lord Jim, and the other is a 1938 sailboat made in Hong Kong called Lady Cat.”
Lau is just as passionate when speaking about his hobbies – sailing, collecting antique seals, photography – as he is about being the managing director of one of Hong Kong’s top five commercial printing houses.
He first got the idea for Asia One after his younger son was born.
“Every other week, I had to travel to the Philippines,” Lau recalls.
“There was a downturn, and I went into private banking. I wasn’t used to that culture. Banking is like being on a highway – it’s a very short-lived kind of excitement. I saw my wife’s company outsourcing its printing needs and thought: ‘I could do that’.”
He admits the initial startup costs were high. Printing equipment is massive and highly specialized.
But he persevered despite negative feedback.
“A lot of people don’t know or care how a book comes into being,” Lau says.
“They just complain that killing trees is bad for the environment. People feel sorry for me. They think that all we do is print invoice pads.”
Lau explains Hong Kong’s pulp-paper recycling efforts keep many of the city’s elderly citizens busy and employed.
“All our paper comes from managed forests,” he adds.
“Trees grow back – iPhones are much more unsustainable but you don’t hear anyone complaining about those.”[db:内容2]