Terribly sorry Miss, but could you repeat your name please? He asks with a smile, while reaching over to his weathered, leather-back diary. He carefully finds the right page and jots down a line. ??e been keeping a 24-hour journal for five years now. It helps me keep track of my life. You just can? seem to waste time if you do so, you see, he adds. Since 1997, CEO Kim Suk-bong (a.k.a. toastman has been awakening in the wee hours of dawn preparing for the day? work. As a husband and father of three, it was not an easy life selling toast each morning, but he was determined to excel at what he did.
In the beginning, the hardest thing wasn't the physical workload, or dealing with officers, gang members, and other shop owners, says Kim. It was dealing with myself wasn't capable of getting up in the morning, and I had difficulty with the feeling of being unwealthy. When Kim realized that the real battle was the one waged within, he decided to do three things to overcome his difficulties. First, he shortened his sleeping time to five hours a day; second, he started keeping a 24-hour schedule; and finally, he started looking around for people less fortunate than himself. These three things were enough for him to overcome his challenges, and enabled his profession to take flight.
He began to ponder how he could best contribute to society, and plant hope in the hearts of others with what he had. healthy breakfast,?said Kim, was the first answer. He figured out a way to sweeten the toast with fruit and not artificial flavorings.There was also, of course, the magic of a simple smile. Kim made sure his customers walked away with the best service he could provide.
In 2002, two significant things occurred in Kim's life, and he was faced with a second trial. First, he was diagnosed with cancer of the stomach, and then there was news that a sixth member would be added to the family. Although the latter news was a joyful event, with his physical ailment it was a difficult for him to support his growing family. Six months after surgery, which removed 75 percent of his stomach, Kim was back on the roadnly this time, 13 kilograms lighter than before.
That same year he decided to write a book, translated as The Toastman who Baked Hope. He wrote in order to remind himself of the life he had lived until that point. Yet keep a humble heart, Sukbong, were the words he would tell himself as he wrote. 2002 was also the year he decided to open up his cooking techniques to the public, and allow retailers to open stores without collecting a fee for the franchise.
In 2006, after opening 300 retail stores around the country, and publishing a second book two years ago about his eight years of experience, Kim's marketing strategy has gained further public notice. The fame, nonetheless, has not stirred his vision for Sukbong Toast, any more than it has the attitude of his heart. Fur vision is to always think of the health of our customers, and keep three things in mind as we work: cleanliness, hygiene, and service. I also have a personal vision about opening children camps, which aim to plant hope in the minds of these young people. They are, after all, the main characters of the future.
As a man who has been to the gates of heaven and back, Kim has learned that nothing in life comes without a price. It has not been an easy journey, he says, out one thing I have learned is that this life is worth living, and I am thankful just to be alive.