The power to transform one’s life often rests in one’s ability to maximize the opportunities that come one’s way while also creating more than a few on one’s own. For Sir Gary Kong, this is not only the essence of his beginnings, but it is also the secret to his drive and success. Coming first from China to Guatemala at the age of 16 with no money to his name, Kong then made his way over to the United States of America where he realized the American dream using his innate talents and business acumen to seize on relevant business opportunities, scout out new trends, and create success seemingly out of thin air. Naturally, the actual process was more work than that outlined above but Sir Gary Kong’s effortless grace and charm make it appear as though any roadblock set before him is yet another way to maximize his talents and abilities.
To start, as an immigrant, Kong found English difficult and endeavored to become fluent. While the math behind real estate was natural, language is more than hard analysis – mastery comes from a desire to truly grasp the essence and spirit that the language embodies. This relentless innovation and dauntless passion for pushing beyond boundaries and into the unexpected rears its head in the different wines Sir Gary Kong creates at his vineyards, the water he pipes from deep beneath the sands of Las Vegas, and his philanthropic efforts to supply frontline workers with needed PPE during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking from personal experience and with an eye toward providing the rising next generation with insights into life, success, and happiness, we conclude our conversation with Sir Gary Kong with an introspective discussion about opportunity, overcoming barriers, and the importance of having and realizing one’s dreams.
Gary, you are a self-made entrepreneur in the real estate sector. You moved to the United States from China at the age of 16. You had no money, but a big dream. What brought you to America and fueled your dream to make it big?
I left Fijian China to Hong Kong at the age of 5 and stayed there 10 years. Then I came to America after receiving a VISA from Guatemala and decided to swim from Mexico to America in pursuit of “The American Dream”.
What were some of your early jobs once you relocated to America?
I started out working as a dishwasher at some famous restaurant in Manhattan and working my way up to Stew Chef.
How did you eventually crack the real estate market?
I understood real-estate and the numbers easily. By the time I was 18 I owned my first building and for the next 25 years after having purchased a building each year. I own several homes, apartments, and land.
What were some of the early challenges you had to overcome after arriving in the States?
My biggest challenge was the language barrier. Learning English was difficult at first but with great determination I knew I had to be fluent.
How long did it take for you to feel like you had “made it” in America?
I think back on my life and career. I feel like I first made it when I started going back to those same fancy restaurants as a patron taking clients to business dinners, and after buying my first home.
Real estate isn’t your only interest. Can you tell us all about Classic New York beer and the 1 Wine?
To create a business around one’s passion is truly a gift and godsend. I am a beer and wine connoisseur, so I decided to start my own winery in California where I developed several blends and The1Wine came to fruition. Today, we are producing many more different blends for our loyal customers. Our beer is unique, and we have assorted flavors including the popular Blue Berry and Apple.
What sets your beer and wine companies apart from the other breweries and microbreweries around today?
What separates us from other breweries and wine companies is our labor of love, diversity, uniqueness, and our flavors which no one else can emulate. I own the winery, as well.
If you could speak to your 16-year-old self, what advice would you offer?
I would say never give up on your dreams. Work smartly and get an education.
In 2022, you were named president of Sino America Commerce. What does this honor mean to you and your career in business?
Becoming 2022 President of Sino America Commerce is a true honor. I will continue their efforts to bring Chinese American and American business together in unity through expanding our efforts throughout America.
During the pandemic, you played a major part in helping fellow New Yorkers. Gary, you donated 40,000 surgical masks and 800 N95 masks. What drove you to making this donation?
Helping others, especially during the pandemic was especially important to me both in the US and in China. During the early days of the pandemic China was running out masks, and much needed medical supplies. I had contributed and flown air cargo plane from New York to China via Chapman Freeborn 26,000 pound (about 11793.39 kg) of PPE to the Chinese Red Cross.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact you daily? How did it affect your business and work?
Many of my businesses, including my family in New York, were shut down. This gave me an opportunity to develop during the pandemic a reusable diesel fuel venture and connected with Vegas Renewable Diesel (VRD) company. We use waste motor oil and engine oil and recycle usable top of the line diesel fuel. I also embarked on a bottled water project in Las Vegas, and today I am producing the best tasting water which comes from 300 feet below from the desert producing The1 Artesian Water. Awards: Received three President Community Service awards from Obama, Trump and Biden for Lifetime Achievements.
The Global Hero Foundation is near and dear to your heart. Can you tell us about this organization and your role within it?
As founder I am always looking to help organizations, especially the front runners during the pandemic hospital workers, Fireman, and the police departments. We support via financial contributions and staging fund raiser events as well as dinners.
What are some of the other COVID-19 related work the Global Hero Foundation has done in recent time?
We donated a variety of PPE to India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Haiti, the USA, and China and received their administrator appreciation letters.
Can you tell us about some of the philanthropist activities you have in store?
We are always looking for new causes and people in need. In 2022-23 we will support this organization with donations, events, and dinners.
What is your advice to someone seeking to become an entrepreneur in 2022 and beyond?
Work hard, timing is important and do not give up on your dream even with some obstacles which may come your way during your journey.
If you had the power to change just one thing in the world, what would it be?
The elimination of prejudice against the different races, and equal opportunities for all who work hard and are honest.
To know more about Sir Gary Kong and The Global Hero Foundation USA, please visit https://globalherofoundationusa.com