But life was not always so peachy for the successful business man.When Chen first came to America from Taiwan in 1982, he didn't speak a word of English, he had little money and his educational background didn't extend beyond high school.He was still young at 27 years of age and while not necessarily book-smart, he was ambitious and he possessed an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.All he knew about the United States, he learned from friends in Taiwan and all that entailed were rumors that America was a place where poor people could become rich people, as long as they wanted it bad enough.So when Chen arrived, he was disappointed to learn the best employment he could get were labor jobs."When I first came here, I was at the very bottom," said Chen. "I came here to find opportunity, but I couldn't. I found the opposite."He worked 14-hour days in construction and he cleaned toilets as a maintenance worker, while taking English classes during the night.But his ambition paid off. In two years, he landed a job as the maintenance supervisor of an apartment complex. He worked days and at nights he would construct and install iron window grates over the windows of first floor residents as a side job. Soon, the tenants would ask him to replace the windows as well and Chen began to see the money he made from his side-business outweigh the money he was making as an apartment super.So he started Crystal Window and Doors Systems and the rest, as they say, is history.Sitting in his conference room on the second floor of his 215,000-square-foot manufacturing and warehouse facility just off the Whitestone Expressway Service Road, Chen laughed as he remembers his early days. It's a classic rags to riches story and despite a total of $48 million in sales last year, Chen still seems to think he hasn't made it."I've never realized that I'm successful," he said. "But I have a vision of this business as being so big. I just think of how to get things right, one by one, 10 years from now. I try to provide the right person, the right product, the right price, the right service and the right finance. To me, that's what you have to learn."Reach reporter Scott Sieber by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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