29 April 2005
An Iron Will(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 05,2005)
A pioneer in Hong Kong's home appliances industry, Goodway Electrical Co Ltd always tries to stay ahead of competitors by providing innovative and reliable consumer products.
Established in 1982, Goodway has rapidly broadened its range of home electrical appliances from irons to include kettles, sandwich makers, steamers, coffee makers, hair-dryers, vacuum cleaners and more. In irons alone, the company can offer more than 10 different models.
A successful manufacturer of irons from the early 1980s, the company boldly branched out into new ventures to expand its business horizons when numerous Japanese brands gradually came to dominate the market.
With innovative ideas bolstered by commitment and determination, in the early 1990s Goodway made another breakthrough with a series of portable electric kettles.
The kettles proved such a success that they became the bedrock of further wealth-building for the company. "Sales of our kettles in Europe, especially to the household, commercial and hotel sectors, were overwhelming. So much so that, a couple of years later, they also started to become popular in Asia," recalls managing director Choi Lung Wai.
However, with margins from kettles being constantly squeezed by severe market competition, Goodway typically decided to set about the production of a novel steam brush series.
Choi says this item, too, is expected to provide a profitable income stream in the years to come. "The steam brush series is set to replace the kettles as our major line, and to become another hit in the market," he asserts. "Business has been brisk since their introduction about two years ago."
As the name suggests, the biggest selling point of the series is a powerful steam-cleaning ability to remove wrinkles and dirt from fabrics. "Among others, model G-663 serves as an accessible daily tool to clean men's suits, winter clothing and home furniture," Choi explains. "Model G-662 is equipped with a soft bristle brush and sponge and is purpose-designed to clean delicate clothing or fabrics."
Goodway has a skilled workforce of 2,000 at its 500,000-square-foot factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland, and posts an annual turnover of more than US$80m.
"During the course of the past decade, with a view to tapping the enormous market potential and sizable brand name business on the mainland and in Hong Kong, we have successfully built up our reputation as a trusted household name," says Choi. "However, we could not have done that without total dedication to quality control and strong production back-up."
Certainly the firm's products have been put to the test in the market. "It took us about 10 years to really establish the Goodway brand," says Choi. "We put a premium on quality and believe that all-round excellence is a prerequisite to building a desired identity."
Choi also emphasises strong financial support as another key ingredient during the brand-building process, noting that a substantial amount of investment in advertising and sponsorship is required.
"Apart from selling a growing range of products under the Goodway brand on the mainland and in Hong Kong, we also maintain an extensive network of sales and after-sales service centres to directly serve our consumers," Choi says.
There are service centres in most major mainland cities, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Chengdu, Xian, Shanghai and Beijing.
Apart from its own-brand business, OEM exports today account for about 80% of Goodway's total production. "Major markets include the US, Europe and the Middle East," Choi notes, adding that the company also exports nearly 10 million irons annually for a single US brand.
"Eastern Europe is where we see the biggest area of growth as the trading and sourcing powers there are catching up at a very fast pace," he continues.
Maintaining consistent growth throughout the years despite tough market conditions worldwide requires extra effort, too. "Thanks to our long history and sound reputation, our buyers have total confidence in our products and we are always keen to come up with new products that attract their attention," Choi says.
"We work closely with overseas product designers to create new models that best suit the tastes of consumers in individual markets," he adds. "With new product development well under way, we are expecting to reach new turnover heights in 2006."
He promises that a secret formula of the new product range is something associated with prevailing market trends: "Small in size, environmentally friendly and energy saving."
A popular name with housewives the world over, Goodway is keen to extend its reach to young people - where a substantial market is up for grabs for those able to offer more stylish and fashionable products.
Goodway should certainly be up to the challenge.
WRITTEN BY VANAPA ONGVISES
Goodway Electrical Co Ltd