After completing their studies, it’s common for Singaporean youths to vie for a life in the corporate world. But Ong Yong Liang was one of the bold few who veered off the beaten path, choosing to carve his career in the gas delivery industry instead as a young man straight out of NS.
Joining the industry even before he hit his sweet 21st, this 26-year-young manager shared with us the trials and tribulations of plying his trade in a blue-collar occupation.
Yong Liang discovered his penchant for blue-collar work during his time serving the nation, so it was only natural for him to express interest in a labour-intensive role. After happily proclaiming “ORD lo”, a classified ad from SUNGAS caught the then 20-year-old’s eye, and he decided to head down for an interview.
The strenuous nature of the job usually deters younger Singaporeans from applying, making an energetic lad like Yong Liang a rare sight in the driver’s seat. “At first, the interviewers thought because I was so young, I wouldn’t be cut out for this sort of hard labour,” chuckled Yong Liang. “But they gave me a chance, and the rest is history.”
Hard labour certainly loomed ahead for Yong Liang when he joined, as he had to get used to loading and delivering the throngs of heavy gas cylinders back at their depot.
Fun fact: Don’t be fooled by the innocuous labels of ‘12.7KG’ on the gas cylinders meant for households – that’s just the weight of the gas within the bulky cylinders. Yong Liang explained the estimated gross weight for cylinders is double that, weighing roughly 25KG a pop.
That’s not the heaviest load he’s had to deliver though, as the gargantuan cylinders meant for hawkers weigh a whopping 80KG each. That’s heavier than me, and my 75KG measurement on the weighing scale isn’t a petty number to scoff at either.
Surprisingly, it didn’t take Yong Liang much time to adapt to the supposed physical torment, as he was comfortable lifting the loads without any aches within his first two weeks. Training is a lot less taxing for delivery staff nowadays though, as they’ve got trolleys to alleviate the burden of lugging the heavy cylinders.
Apart from the heavy lifting, being in the heavy-duty delivery line also meant that Yong Liang had to have full control of his trusty motorised steed – the lorry. Earning a driving license during his NS days was a true blessing, as Yong Liang had no problems taking a short course to upgrade his license to one that allowed him to drive his work vehicle out for deliveries.
With his physical abilities and driving proficiency all in place, so began Yong Liang’s gas delivery journey.
With kitchens fuelled by gas pipes and appliances like induction cookers being all the rage, you might wonder who still orders gas cylinders. As it turns out, some households stand to benefit from the affordability of using them.
“If you cook very often, or if your household has about five to seven people, using bottled gas will actually be much cheaper. You stand to enjoy around 30% savings,” explained Yong Liang.
He also mentioned some estates like Ang Mo Kio and Redhill don’t have underground pipes installed, meaning that these older flats’ only source of gas is through cylinders.
A substantial demand for gas cylinders meant that there was no shortage of work for Yong Liang. The regular 9-to-6 hustle didn’t apply to him, as SUNGAS’ 13-hour operating hours saw Yong Liang commandeering his lorry to make deliveries from 7AM all the way till 8PM daily.
Though he found himself preoccupied with delivering over 30 gas cylinders every day, Yong Liang said he relished making back-to-back deliveries. “Time flies especially when you’re busy, so you get into a delivery groove and are able to service customers faster too,” he said.
Delivering gas cylinders isn’t just a drop-and-go kind of job – arguably the most important aspect of Yong Liang’s job scope is troubleshooting his clients’ problems.
Apart from bringing the gas cylinders to the customer’s doorstep, Yong Liang helps install them and perform thorough checks to ensure that there’s no leakage whatsoever. After all, his customers’ safety is at stake here.
Yong Liang elaborated, “Our scope of work extends beyond just delivering gas cylinders. For example, customers have specific issues we need to attend to – like if their stove fires aren’t big enough. If you’re not able to answer and solve the customer’s problems, then it’s going to be a real headache for you.”
One of the essential safety inspections Yong Liang performs is the stringent five-point check. Slathering the gas cylinder’s regulator, rubber hose, switch and nozzle with soap, he observes to see if any bubbles pop up along the sud-filled area as that’s a telltale sign of a gas leakage.
Yong Liang added, “We also check if their rubber hose is too hard or soft or if their regulator’s switch is too stiff, just to see if any replacements are needed.”
By law, a household is supposed to have their equipment checked once a year to ensure there isn’t any faulty equipment. But Yong Liang takes the extra step to provide this service every single time he makes a delivery.
And the incredulous part is, he does the delivery, installation and safety check all within a span of 10 minutes. After doing the deed, off to the next location he goes and the cycle repeats.
Gas delivery might not be a conventional career path for millennials and Gen-Zers these days, but Yong Liang has had nothing short of fulfilling experiences treading this path. If there’s one thing that keeps him going, it’s his friendly customers’ kind words that act as morale boosters to power him through the day.
“Sometimes they’ll exclaim ‘Wah, you so fast reach already ah?’, and it’s these kinds of small sentiments that keep me smiling and going throughout the day. When the customers are happy, I’m happy,” Yong Liang buzzed.
The hospitality he receives from both regulars and new customers also comes in the form of gifts, as Yong Liang can look forward to angbaos and even home-baked goodies during festive periods.
“A lot of them are concerned that us drivers are busily toiling under the hot sun, so they’ll always offer us drinks and snacks,” Yong Liang said. “I’ll always remember the time where a family invited me to sit down with them and have a meal, but I had other orders to attend to so I couldn’t join them.”
A common misconception people have is that being a gas delivery driver is very much a solo stint, but Yong Liang’s experiences prove otherwise. Whenever a flood of orders come in, the team of drivers cover for each other to uphold the brand’s 25-minute delivery policy.
“If you’re swamped with orders, you can always rely on your colleagues to take on a new delivery,” commented Yong Liang. “It’s not a lonely job – we’ve always got each other’s backs and we have lunch together regularly.”
Rewind four years back when Yong Liang was still a greenhorn in the industry and you’ll see how bonds were forged between him and his seniors. Whenever a new issue popped up while servicing a house, his seniors would take the time to help him learn the ropes to become the full-fledged delivery man he is today.
“I don’t think anyone will have all the answers to every problem a customer poses, so the biggest takeaway is to take the initiative to seek out solutions whenever you encounter obstacles. Your seniors are more than happy to teach you how to solve these issues,” Yong Liang remarked.
Now that Yong Liang has climbed the rungs of the career ladder, he’s gone full circle and is now instructing new joiners in his managerial position. While he isn’t heading out for deliveries as often these days, he constantly monitors the health of his team of drivers and ensures they’re all following safety protocol as part of this new job scope.
But Yong Liang remains humble, saying that other driven individuals can soar high in the industry as long as they’re passionate and resilient. He added, “Every job has their difficulties, so if we’re able to persevere through them all and solve our customers’ issues, then that’s all that matters. Make sure no question fazes you.”
From his rigorous schedule to his years of continuous heavy lifting, it’s safe to say Yong Liang has gone far in this industry despite his young age.
If you’re looking for a gas delivery service that’s reliable, make sure to keep SUNGAS in mind. Now’s the most opportune time to place your orders too, as SUNGAS is offering a $3 discount off all LPG cylinders from 4th – 28th February 2021.
Simply enter the promo code <SUNGASTSL3> on the SUNGAS website, and you’re all set to enjoy the discount. And who knows, Yong Liang might just be the one making the delivery to your doorstep. Note that according to their T&Cs, the promo is not valid for call-in orders.
With technology these days, gone are the olden times where cash on delivery was your only payment option. SUNGAS has gone digital, and customers who order an LPG cylinder for home use will get two magnets with QR codes to place onto your gas cylinder and fridge. This way, you can easily scan the code to place an order.
With still many years in the tank for Yong Liang to keep pressing on in the industry, his story is an encouraging testament to the fact that you don’t have to tread down a conventional path to succeed in life.
“A job isn’t just something you do for the sake of it – if you don’t have any passion, you won’t be able to survive for long,” Yong Liang quipped.
This post was brought to you by Union Gas Holdings.
Photography by Pichan Cruz.
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