By Aulia R. Sungkar
Originally published in the J-Plus edition of The Jakarta Post on April 26, 2015
Business leader Irwan Danny Musry shares his recipe for building his company, achieving success and his reverence for the “king”.
Irwan Mussry has woven his way through Jakarta traffic from the airport on this Thursday morning to make it to his office for the interview and photo shoot. The president and CEO of Time International may have just flown in from Singapore but he appears more energetic and upbeat than the rest of us.
“Do you want to do the interview first or photo shoot? I’m flexible,” the 52-year-old says as he greets the crew with an avuncular smile. He proved easy going and friendly to work with, entertaining us with asides about his cavernous office.
“That’s my cash cow,” he says, pointing at a painting of a fat cow with currency symbols written on its stomach. It is no exaggeration to say that the beautiful painting is a reflection of the success of the leading Indonesian watch company Time International. “We opened our first store Cartier at Plaza Indonesia in 1994. It’s 21 years old. But we have established a presence in the industry since the mid-80s,” Irwan recalls.
The company holds the licenses for scores of premium watch brands such as Cartier, TAG Heuer, Chopard, Gucci, Roger Dubuis, Jaeger LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, Tudor, IWC, HYT, to name a few.
The company, with about 300 employees in all, also runs its own retail businesses that include The Time Place, INTime, Cartier, Chanel, Fendi, TAG Heuer Boutiques, WatchTime International, Fossil and Urban Icon boutiques. Surabaya-born Irwan spent considerable time living in the US during his youth. “I graduated from Los Angeles High School, went to Mt. San Antonio College and transferred to California State LA. I didn’t complete my undergraduate study as my business instinct led me to build Time International.”
His affinity for the finer things in life has helped fuel his drive to build a timepiece giant. There was also a persoanl experience that led him to explore the business. “I wasn’t given the right service by a salesman when I was looking for one particular brand of watch. I felt if the service had been delivered better, they could have made more money and the brand would have been more accepted in the market,” he says.
“I then decided to contact the brand and made a presentation, with the objective of better serving customers. That’s how I got into the watch business!” he recalls gesturing excitedly. Taking a sip of coffee, Irwan continues, “It’s a natural evolution. You get something and you want to do better. Certain success makes you hungrier to serve better.
In the beginning, how to grow the company was of course what I stressed upon.“Now I’m looking deeper instead of wider. I regard my customers as friends. And how to bring the dream closer to our friends is what we focus on.”
His perspective of customer satisfaction includes giving customers the right guidance, not telling them what to do or choose and instead providing them with a lot of possibilities within the range they like. “We will never push customers seeking a sport watch to buy a dress watch. Instead, we will give them the widest range of sport watches and guide them through,” he explains.
At the end of the day, the customer needs to have the final say. “And it’s our responsibility to give them that freedom, by sharing the story and by explaining the difference of possibilities. It all takes the right communication. A great sales person creates a great conversation, not just salesmanship. ”The goal is we want to do the sales through a journey.
It’s not about letting the customers in, greeting them, making a sales and letting them out. We have to make a genuine conversation to find out what they need. This is especially important in selling luxury products. Otherwise, you will not be able to bring the customers’ dream closer,” he asserts.
The Art of Fine Living
Irwan’s success is also credited to the pursuit of his lifelong passion for sharing the world of luxury to Indonesian people. He has successfully brought the beauty and elegance of timepieces through one-stop shopping experience.
Despite enjoying his work, Irwan values time off. “I work in a fast lane, so when I’m at home I like to slow down. I take my time, relax and watch movie. I try not to go to commercial places at my spare time.”
He works a lot of hours and travels extensively, so being home is considered a luxury for him. “So I make sure that my home has a maximum comfort. So I can do my hobby at home. I love music. I listen to almost any genre, from dangdut to jazz.”
Irwan is more a mountain than a beach person. He lists Switzerland as his most top travel destination for the country’s beautiful mountains. Next on the list are the US and Tokyo.
“The US is my second home. I have a lot of families and relatives there. In the past seven years, I’ve been travelling to Tokyo a lot, simply because of the food,” he concludes.