When fresh business graduate David Tang joined his father's events and decorations company 15years ago, he had no idea how to even set up a Christmas tree.

What more a 21m-tall one, which was part of his first project to put up the festive decorations at Raffles City. "It was a nightmare. I couldn't sleep and couldn't eat," said Mr Tang, who lost 8kg in the one month it took to complete the installations.

Now, the 41-year-old is leading a team of over 30 to design and set up one of Singapore's most iconic decoration projects - the Orchard Road Christmas light-up, which will be switched on by President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Saturday.

This is the sixth time his company, Rich-Art Enterprises, has won the tender for the shopping belt's annual makeover - having done the display for a five-year stretch from 2004 to 2008.

Besides the Orchard Road street display, it is also behind the festive decorations this year at Tangs, Ngee Ann City, Changi Airport and at the 110 FairPrice outlets islandwide.

Just like Mr Tang, his company has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1983, when his father, Mr Richard Tang, started out making signs and printing stickers for his first client, department store Isetan.

His father, now 71, had a busy work schedule. Just to spend more time together, he would take his son along as he set up decorations at night. The younger Mr Tang recalled many late dinners and hours sleeping in his father's car, reaching home only around 2am or 3am.

"I would sleep in the car, always have late dinners and go home at 2am or 3am. He'd be setting up at night, and I would be sitting in the car watching him," he said.

But this is a business that goes beyond dollars and cents. It is about touching people and creating memories. When he was 10, his father created a 30m-long illuminated dragon, which was placed on boats in Marina Bay. He does not remember the event it was for, but recalled seeing many people taking photos of it. That was the first time the impact of his father's work hit him.

"I realised that he created something for the public and they enjoyed it," he said.

The elder of two brothers, he felt it was natural to take over the family business, even though it was neither his nor his father's wish initially, he admitted. "When I was growing up, he would tell me, 'Don't become a contractor.' That's why he wanted me to get a degree," said Mr Tang.

"I actually wanted to live my own life. I would have done banking. But we're a close-knit family so to me, even though I wanted to do other things, it's fine."

While his younger brother, 35, is in banking, Mr Tang joined the company after graduating from the University of San Francisco in 1998.

Relationships matter a lot to him. Several times throughout this hour-long interview, Mr Tang, who is married with a five-year-old daughter, described himself as lucky to have clients and employees who have stuck by him.

His company employs close to 70 people, some of whom have been around since it was founded.

Mr Tang, who now oversees the day-to-day operations as its marketing director, hopes to bring Rich-Art forward by treasuring old clients and long-time employees, while attracting new blood to the business.

"Without our history, we wouldn't have a present. But without present renewal of leadership, we won't have a future," Mr Tang said. "That's how I want to see the company grow."

Some things, though, have not changed. His father would still drop by occasionally "to scold us a bit", he said with a chuckle. "He's still the boss. He has an entrepreneur's mindset, it's hard to satisfy him. He has high standards."