- A pair of twin brothers from Kuala Lumpur do large scale plant rentals for a living.
- Come December, they’ll be managing Rent-A-Pot and their very own fashion line, if things go according to plan.
Meeting Neal and Nigel Edwin, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the twin brothers are budding models in the fashion industry—both usually sporting floral shirts and jeans tighter than the average Malaysian’s wallet.
Instead, there is more than meets the eye with the identical (at least at first sight) twin brothers. After completing their education at the University of Melbourne, they returned to Malaysia to revamp a business that was initially begun 36 years ago by their father, Edwin Kumar.
“I’ve never studied anything about plants in my entire life, I had no clue, but I’ve been learning on the job for the past 2 years.”
The brothers have a strong interest in fashion and music, having been dabbling in both throughout the earlier years, signing a record deal with famed local artist, Reshmonu in 2011. With their company boasting clients including the organisers of F1, the Good Vibes Festival, BURO, and the SEA games, the two have a stated aim of changing the perception towards plants in general.
Rent-A-Pot (RAP) in short, provides a one-stop solution for plants, pots, and even fountain displays if you’re looking to plan an event, green up your office space, or just send an unorthodox apologetic gift to your significant other.
Tentatively launching sometime in December, the brothers are also working on a fashion line that is apparently in line with their main business, RAP. Explaining the connection, Neal tells us that the brand’s focus is going to be around brotherhood. With the fashion concept centering around lifestyle, they explain that their interest in fashion, cars and lifestyle is all parallel to them continuing to work on self-branding.
“We’re trying to bring that lifestyle into this plant business as well. People think, ‘aiyo, it’s just a plant’, but we’re trying to change that and make our company glamorous”
Most people consider plants to be… well, plants. But with a new line of products including personalised pots and plants as gifts, RAP continues to expand beyond the traditional ambit of landscaping and the plant business.
Based around the fact that the conventional gift of flowers have a very short lifespan, the two are working on customisable plants as gifts instead. From corporate gifts to simply anyone looking to do things a little different, the Porsche-branded flower pots that were lying around the office waiting to be delivered are just one of the multitude of options available from the RAP guys.
Continuing to model on the side for clothing brands and lifestyle events, Neal and Nigel explain that it’s all vital for the self-branding exercise that’s all tied back to their business—the more people who know of you, the more people you can sell your product to.
Simply put, they’re working on becoming known as the go-to guys for plants. “You want a plant, you go to Nigel and Neal.”
On the business end of things, the twin brothers continue to learn from their father, who started the business in 1982, coining the name ‘Rent-A-Pot’ due to its simplicity and the lack of structure to other companies working in the industry.
“At that time, it was Mahathir’s time, and there was a lot of development happening, and he had the vision that a lot of companies would need plants in the future and so that’s how the company started.”
They are also active in the Malaysian Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO), with local businessmen working together to grow their businesses in tandem.
However, the EO is not a forum for soliciting clients or simply looking for business. The brothers explained that the forums prohibit active solicitation of business. A collection of influential local entrepreneurs, the EO requires an annual revenue of RM1 million in order to join the accelerator programme, whereupon members work together to move toward a targeted revenue of RM4 million per annum.
It’s not all work, with Nigel revealing, “EO is a good mix of social and learning. Normally, learning events are followed by social stuff”.
Planning For The Future
Currently, the vast majority of clients for RAP are based in KL, with the odd job in the nearby states. RAP aims to expand around Malaysia as a whole as part of their 5-year plan, with regional plans in place with a deadline of 2030.
Prior to a period where RAP was sold by their father to an external party, the full-time staff on payroll totalled to about 80. After taking over RAP in the past few years, the twins have grown the team at RAP from just 10 members to a total staff count of 45, including a large number of trucks, motorbikes and lorries.
Currently located in Taman Desa, the RAP headquarters take up a 1.5 acre sized plot of land that includes plant nurseries and building areas (the guys make all their pots, fountains and more totally from scratch).
On what makes them tick, the brothers described professional satisfaction as crucial to their motivation.
“The greatest satisfaction is seeing it come to life from the design or the concept and actually delivering it.”
This follows the underlying tone of the twins in tying professional and personal goals, taking pride in the feedback from clients and in their continuing efforts in striving to improve.
A peek below the brightly-coloured shirts and flawless hair reveals a desire to change perceptions: be it fashion, business, greenery, or anything in-between.
- You can find out more about Rent-A-Pot on their website here.