George Yap is Dad in charge
By Karyl Walker
The most lasting impression Livingston George Yap has made on his four children is his never-say-die attitude and indomitable spirit.
Seventy-six year-old Yap, head of LEASA Industries, has been part of the South Florida business landscape for forty years. And despite facing challenges and disappointments in building his business, has always found time to bond with his children.
According to his son Andrew, the patriarch of the Yap clan has passed on many positive traits that have shaped him and his siblings’ outlook on life.
“I have learnt from him the value of hard work, perseverance and never giving up. When things were turning sour in Jamaica, my parents decided to leave for Florida. They only had $50 in their pockets, things were tough. It was very, very difficult but he kept on going. Until this day he will keep on going,” Andrew Yap said.
Like many Jamaicans, the Yaps migrated during the 1970s, a period of political turmoil in Jamaica. Their first business venture was growing bean sprouts. Over time, the Liberty City-based business evolved into manufacturing natural products. LEASA grows bean and Alfalfa sprouts and are the largest manufacturers of tofu in Florida. Data released from the Soyfood Industry and Market Report ranks the company among the top twenty in the United States with an annual revenue of $5.7 million.
Andrew is the eldest of four children; his siblings are Sean, Allison and Lisa. The acronym LEASA represents members of the Yap family who were born at the time of its genesis. Livingston, his wife Enez, (now deceased), Andrew, Sean and Allison.
Andrew admires his father’s calm demeanor under pressure.
“He is always looking on the bright side of things. No matter how hard it was he would not let his children feel that. We were always in school. He was very protective and a very comforting parenting figure,” he said.
LEASA Industries currently employs 30 persons.
According to Andrew Yap, George is more than their boss.
“Many of them look up to him as a father figure. He will give you the shirt off his back,” he said.