We started off as a small durian shop at Toa Payoh Central Block 183 in 1998. Then after 11 years later, as business went swift and smooth sailing with the first shop, we opened a 2nd one at Toa Payoh Block 186 to continue our durian business. Not long after that, we had our 3rd shop in 2010 at Geylang and since then, in the even year 2010, my brother bought a piece of land to be our own durian plantation in Bukit Kepong, Johor.
Our business portfolio consists of 50% in corporate events’ sales and the other 50% in retail sales emerging from our 3 shops locally. We also sell our durians overseas in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and some parts of China such as Beijing and Shanghai.
Signatures are D13 durians of which are imported directly from Malaysia from our farm and these durians started selling locally in year 2000. Our D13 grade is very good and sellable among our regulars and many celebrities, both local and overseas also fancy it.
We also cater delivery services locally and they are free with a minimum order of $200 or above. Otherwise, each delivery is charged at $20 as a fee.
What is your name and age, are you local?
I am Alvin, born in 1986, 31 years old this year and I come from Malaysia, Johor to Singapore in 2009.
What makes your business different from others?
My durians are sold in China, mainly Shanghai and Beijing, and in Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan too. Our business focus on corporate events of which take up 50% of our sales, and 50% on retail.
Why is your shop named as such?
We at located at Geylang Lorong 36 thus our brand name is created as D36 – “Durian 36” Though so, our company name is Fruits Top 1. However, most patrons know us as D36 Durians.
When was it first established?
What are your signature durians?
What is your favourite local food?
Chilli Crabs at “No Signboard Restaurant” in Geylang.
What is your secret to keeping customers coming in?
Service and the freshness and grade of our durians, which is imported directly from our farm in Malaysia. During seasonal periods, we direct import daily.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in this business?
I took on this food heritage from my brother.
What has been your greatest professional success and biggest setback?
When we hit the peak of our sales volume in 2015. Also, we were being invited by Resorts World Sentosa to host a durian buffet in 2016, August and we sold a whooping 22 tons of Mao Shan Wang durians during the 4 days’ event.
Durian’s market prices shot up in 2016, and that affected our sales.
What is your comfort food?
Beer in the comfort of my home.
Do you cook at home?
No, I do not.
What does your fridge consists of?
Where is your favourite overseas foodie destination?
Taiwan for their Barbeque food.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities as an owner?
From morning starting 10am to 12pm, I will check the supplies of durians, whether they are sufficient for the 3 shops that we own. I will then attend meetings for handling corporate events’ matters and help around the shops till midnight daily.
What are the steps to becoming a durian business owner?
Need to let customers trust you and give them credibility in your business. Paramount to provide reliable service to them and I also suggest to consider utilising online sales channels as part of your business planning.
What do you think of the current market now?
I perceive that online sales is the current trend for businesses now. Operators should move along this line of business strategy and keep themselves updated always with the market conditions.
How do you think it will be in the next 10 years?
China market is potentially huge and we may tap onto it in years to come, and should not only focus on the local market alone.
Is there any interesting or helpful advice which you may provide to new-starters?
Build trust, reliability and credibility with customers and provide them with excellent service.
What would your last meal be?
Steamboat at Hai Di Lao Mala Hotpot.
Address: 608 Geylang Road Singapore 389547
Opening hours: 24 hours daily
Address: Block 186, Toa Payoh Central #01-444 Singapore 310186
Opening hours: 10am – 10.30pm daily