1 Jan 2001
Company Profiles(HKTDC Electronic Components & Parts, Vol 01,2001)
Vol 1 2001
A Winning Blend
Customers Fully In Focus
Carven Circuits Ltd
intense competition in Asia's electronic components industry, Hong Kong-based
Kentron Industrial Co prospers by offering quality products and strong service
to win customers' confidence and trust.
Kentron makes switching power transformers, line-filters, coils and inductor coils suitable for use in switching power supplies, lighting products, televisions, computer monitors, videos, telecoms equipment, AC/DC converters, RFI filters, security items, general office and home appliances.
The company's annual turnover ranges from US$2.8m-3.5m. While competitors focus on low pricing, Kentron emphasizes quality and service.
"The materials we use come mostly from Japan and South Korea. These countries have advanced electronics industries, and the materials they supply are high quality," says proprietor and general manager William Ho.
Kentron sources directly from suppliers or through Hong Kong agents. "If a customer requires a specific safety standard, such as CSA, UL or VDE, we try to meet the requirement in our materials sourcing," Ho says.
"We offer good service and back-up, thereby building customers' confidence in us," he says, citing this approach as vital, especially for firms of modest scale.
Kentron's 30,000-square-foot factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland has won UL approval and employs 250 skilled workers.
"We hope to bring our factory in line with ISO 9000 standards in 2-3 years," Ho says. Production is reinforced by a team of qualified engineers at an R&D department in Hong Kong.
Besides doing OEM work, Kentron has developed more than 200 custom-made items and always strives to introduce new products. "We've started to make SMD (surface mount device) products used for electronic ballast. Not many manufacturers make them because of the higher costs," Ho says.
Most Kentron customers are established, precision-oriented makers of computer processors, measuring instruments and electrical appliances.
"Our major market is Europe, including Italy, Germany and Sweden," Ho says. "We focus on Europe because its strict requirements, in turn, upgrade our engineering strength and enhance our ability."
Europe accounts for 60-70% of sales, with Hong Kong providing the balance. The company will enter other markets, provided the deals are acceptable. Delivery takes about 30 days, depending on the availability of materials.
Kentron benefits by co-operating with a business partner, one of its long-term customers. "Our partner makes ballast, and we supply components to him. Our partner also sells to Europe, so we refer customers to each other," Ho says.
For promotion, Kentron relies mostly on informal referrals and word of mouth. "The past two years have been the best in company history," says Ho, who established the firm in the early 1990s.
"I entered the industry in 1985 when I joined a company as operation manager. There I learned a lot, including production, procurement and purchasing. Six years later, I set up this company of my own," Ho fondly recalls.
He anticipates a promising future due to the winning blend of necessary products, high quality and customer service.
WRITTEN BY LIZA LEE
and sincerity are the two most important qualities in business -- and the reason
behind the success of Carven Circuits Ltd, says managing director Albert Mok.
The company, founded in Hong Kong in 1989, is a maker of high-quality printed circuit boards (PCBs). Its major product line is FR-4 type, double-sided, gold-plated and hot-air levelling rigid boards for the telecoms, automobile and equipment industries.
"We are very customer-focused," says Mok. "Most of all, we must be sincere. That means being honest with clients if there is a problem." He describes Carven as a "total solution" company working with customers to produce the best designs for their requirements and to help them minimize costs.
"Within the scope of the products, we can work with customers to satisfy their demands and technical requirements. If a customer needs an order very quickly, for example, we will tailor-make a programme to achieve this.
"Carven also believes in being flexible," says Mok, explaining that the company no longer takes the traditional two-week break at Chinese New Year, due to requests from overseas customers.
When it comes to the actual product, Mok notes that printed-board companies of a similar size generally offer a range of products, including double-sided, multi-layer and a wide spectrum of plating and other options, rather than focusing on a special product. But Carven is different.
"Our strength is manufacturing double-sided, gold-plated and hot-air levelling PCBs. Even if we are tempted to make multi-layers, we will stick to double-sided," says Mok.
"The advantage is that we can manufacture them in much higher volume. In terms of economies of scale our customers can enjoy a better price performance. As a result we have a more stable process control, more accurate lead time and punctual delivery."
The company works on making Carven a "lighthouse" for double-sided boards in the region. "We want people to think of Carven first. We may not be the biggest, but we do have unlimited opportunities."
Because PCBs are tailor-made, the company does not need to engage in extensive promotional activities but rather concentrates on a high level of service. "We go for a defensive selling strategy," says Mok. "Our target is the top 500 global electronic manufacturers, and our aim is to penetrate these companies one by one."
Recently, the industry suffered from over-supply, according to Mok. "Most of our competitors tried to lower prices to win more orders, and once they got them, they started to increase the prices. This scares new customers, who will go with more stable suppliers like Carven at the end of the day."
Along with many other electronics enterprises, Carven works towards banishing use of lead in the industry by the year 2004. "The environment is something Carven is concerned about," explains Mok. "We implemented EMS in 1997 and ISO 14001 in 1998 and follow many other green office practices, such as recycling and reducing paper, materials and resources."
The company has followed a policy of progressively implementing quality-management programmes. It has already gained ISO 9002 and QS 9000 certification and will soon upgrade its system to comply with SMS and TL 9000 standards.
"These enable us to speak the same language as our overseas customers," says Mok. "It is important for us to maintain customer relationships, so once we get customers, we can keep them for life."
WRITTEN BY ANN WILLIAMS
Carven Circuits Ltd
New East Sun Industrial Bldg
18 Shing Yip St, Kwun Tong
Kowloon, Hong Kong