His parents wanted him to become a doctor of Chinese medicine and he did study to become one. But when he retired from army service when he was 23, he opted to become a flower grower in Taipei. The fellow is Chen Chi Neng, now 58, and owner of the very successful Flower Home Leisure Farm in Miaoli County in Taiwan.
During our exclusive interview on March 7, 2019, he disclosed that there was so much money to be made from growing flowers. In fact, he grossed NT$30-million a year from 300,000 potted poinsettias which he sold at NT$100 apiece. In Philippine money that is equivalent to P51.6 million at the exchange rate of P1.72 per New Taiwan dollar.That went on for about 10 years. That is why he was able to buy a 3.8-hectare prime land in Miaoli at NT$120-Million. The place used to be the airport of the Japanese before 1949. That’s where he continued his flower gardening project.
At Miaoli, he grew flowers as well as ornamental plants, cherry tomatoes and other crops for sale. With the financial crisis in 2006, the flower business had slumped. Business was slow so Chen had a lot of time on his hands. What he did was to study how to extract essential oil from flowers and plants. It took him four years to learn the techniques. Once you know the basics, it is really easy to extract essential oils with the use of the right chemicals and gadgets, according to Chen.
Chen says that worldwide, there are at least 200 kinds of oil extracts from flowers and plants. In his case, he has 20 kinds. After learning how to extract the oil, the important next step is researching on the right blending of the oils for various uses. He explains that three different blends are used in massage. The first blend is for making the customer relaxed and two other blends are administered midway and then at the end to make the customer fully relieved of whatever is nagging him.
Among the most saleable products at the Flower Home Garden Leisure Farm are oil for massage, for aromatherapy and for skin care. Among the best sources of oil extracts as far as Chen is concerned are Rosemary, Lavender,Eucalyptus, Australian Tea Tree, Lemon, Lime and other citrus. Oil can be extracted from the flowers, fruits and leaves of citrus trees. Chen has studied the right locations where the desired plants can be grown in large scale and has engaged farmers to grow them. The contract growers are also making good income.
Flower Home Leisure Farm still sells a lot of potted flowers and ornamentals. It also makes money from its restaurants and lodging facilities as well as the entrance fee of NT$200 per visitor. About 150,000 tourists visit the place every year. But the biggest income earner are the different blends of essential oils for massage, aromatherapy and skin care. A 500 ml massage oil, for instance fetches NT$5,000 equivalent to P8,600 in Philippine money. That will be enough to massage ten clients of massage parlors. The parlors usually charge NT$2,500 per service so they also make good money from the use of the oil.
With the help of experts, research continues in discovering new uses or new innovations of the products. Subject of his present research is about lemon oil for whitening skin. He observes that it is effective in whitening the skin if it is administered at night. It does not work when it used during the daytime.
Chen Chi Neng is a very humble person. He himself will cook and serve his favorite dishes for his visitors. He has a very keen business sense.