NZ Young Entrepreneur Star Awardee Richard Lee Builds the Golden Olive Oil Brand
Richard Lee, born in Taipei in 1982, paid a visit to his two younger brothers in New Zealand in 2000 and began considering the possibility of moving to NZ and studying in whole a new environment. Upon returning to Taiwan after that visit, he gained support from his family and moved to NZ to begin studies there with his younger brothers, opening up a whole new chapter to his life. Lee graduated from the University of New Zealand in 2004 and entered the workforce. He acquired citizenship in 2006, successfully began work in the biggest department store in Auckland, and got his accountant certification in 2008. After getting married in 2010, his mindset changed and began to think about what he could do so that his children would be able to grow up in a safe and happy environment; the thought gave him courage to change career paths and he began working at the well known Auckland media, TV3. With the change in his professional career path, he not only widened the scope of his knowledge and expanded his human connection. Almost at the same time, Lee began to serve the Taiwanese community in New Zealand. In 2016, he was recommended by his good friends in the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce in Ocean - Junior Chapter (WTCCJC) and began serving as the President of the WTCCJC. In 2012, the first ever Taiwan Film Festival was held in Auckland, as Lee happened to work in the media at that time, he was fully engaged in the organization of the Film Festival. By 2015, in his term as the President of the Taiwanese Junior Business Association in New Zealand, he became the organizer of the Film Festival events and he continued to assist in the holding of the event until 2017. The ROC OCAC witnessed his brilliant performance and appointed him as OCAC coordinator.
In 2014, the Taiwanese people began to take the issue of food security more seriously. Even though Lee lived in the southern hemisphere, he still wanted to help improve Taiwan's food security, and so he began seeking vigorously in New Zealand for good quality oil, and by chance stepped into a whole new field of oil production. In the first year that Lee set foot in the olive oil extraction and refining industry, he received a silver medal from Olives New Zealand. With the recognition and encouragement of that medal, Lee decided to leave the news media industry and fully dedicate himself into the olive oil industry. Though at the time he had only spent so much time in the oil industry, Lee fully understood the importance of quality control in the business, and he also was well aware of how oil quality could impact human health.
Starting in 2014, Lee's olive oil received New Zealand golden awards every year, which gave him the confidence to further expand his olive oil business into the overseas market. In 2020, when the new Coronavirus hit the world, New Zealand's economy also went into recession, but Lee's olive oil underwent many tests and challenges, and was awarded the 2020 Best in Show, New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, receiving the highest honor out of all the 200 plus olive oil brands in competition.
Many experienced farmers in New Zealand have dedicated a lifetime to their beloved olive farms, fully engaged themselves in the process from the plantation of olives to the research and development of olive oil, the bottled golden liquid represent their lifetime's work. Some of these olive farms have been in the olive oil production industry for 10 plus years and have never been awarded, and yet, the olive oil competition in 2020 was championed by this young Asian team. Lee said, "I cannot even begin to describe the joy and gratitude I feel in my heart, this award does not simply represent our success, but is also a great honor for the Taiwanese compatriot community residing in New Zealand!" In 2021, Olive Black produced by Lee's team represented New Zealand to join the New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC), where it received the title "Olive Black – World's Best Olive Oil for 2021", this not only positions Lee as simply the "Light of New Zealand" , but also the "Light of Taiwan"!
Lee looked back to when he decided to join the Young Entrepreneur Stars Contest and stated,"I am grateful for the encouragement from TECO-Auckland that gave me the confidence to place myself on the same platform as other brilliant youth businesses around the world. After winning the Award, the organizers provided me with much advice on running a youth business, all of which have been very helpful. I would like to take this chance to encourage youth businesses from around the world, who are eligible, to join the Competition. This Competition will give you a chance to interact with other awardees from around the world!" What is more commendable is that, Lee's contributions to give back to the compatriot community did not stop after his product won the global gold medal or when he was selected as an Young Entrepreneur Star, or even when his career grew and he became incredibly busy; he was elected to be President of the Taiwanese Business Association of New Zealand in 2022, and as he began his term, he proactively sought out opportunities to match and bridge businesses between Taiwan and New Zealand. He helped import into New Zealand Irwin mangos grown in Pintung and Tainan of Taiwan, contributing greatly to improving Taiwan-New Zealand economic and trade relations and to facilitating Taiwan's active participation to the CPTPP.
Lee said, "Looking back on my childhood in Taiwan, and to my studies and career after moving to NZ, the different experiences in every stage of life has defined who I am today. I was greatly influenced by my late grandfather as I watched him live by the motto of "live a rigorous life, do good and be good," and by my mother, who urged us to always "live on a clear conscience". I am thankful to every single person that stood by me with support and encouragement at every stage, and I will continue, with the best of all intentions, to serve my family, business, community, and country. I will always remember where I started out and I will live up to my initial intentions as I march forward into the future."
2022 Young Entrepreneur Star Awardee Richard Lee.
Richard Lee's (right 1) olive oil praised by British celebrity chef, Marco Pierre White (middle).
Richard Lee's olive oil brand "Olive Black" awarded the World's Best Olive Oil for 2021.
Richard Lee (right 1) and TECO-Auckland Director Kendra Chen (left 3, front row) and the Auckland compatriot community, jointly promoting Irwin mango of Taiwan.