5 Oct 2005
Hard Work Brings Results(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 10,2005)
Flying Dragon Development Ltd
Poon, a man of few words much happier in a hands-on situation, says the secret of his success is "hard work". Pressed to reveal his hobbies he smiles and repeats, "Hard work."
Migrating legally to Hong Kong as a teenager more than 40 years ago, Poon recalls how his younger brother swam across the bay to join him. He also recalls working out of an airless wooden hut, making metal watch bracelets and other accessories for cheap jewellery destined for the India market.
Poon, though, has more than nimble fingers and a thrifty nature - he also has a natural inquisitive nature and a keen eye. Observing the changing times, and how modern developments were affecting Hong Kong industry, he thought long and hard about securing a niche in the expanding export trade.
First came auto accessories, unsophisticated items such as clips for holding batteries firmly in place beneath a vehicle's hood. Next, Poon moved into more clips - this time for various automotive electrical fittings. Happily, his simple accessories quickly found markets across Europe and in the US and Japan. Poon was now a rising manufacturer with a small factory employing 70 people.
Having observed that practically anything connected with the car industry soon became a best-seller, Poon produced increasingly sophisticated products for motorists - including lamps for use at night when camping. In turn, this initiative led to emergency lamps, spotlights, black lamps for night fishing, a range of powerful torches and then something no driver making a long overnight journey should travel without, a portable powerbank.
"Our powerbank comprises a large lamp with a powerful beam that travels several hundred metres," Poon explains. "This battery-powered life-saver also has a built-in flashing light, a siren, and clamps to try and restart a flat battery."
Between 1997 and 1999, Flying Dragon sold some 200,000 units of powerbanks each year to buyers in the US, Germany, France, Holland and Finland, with several containers being shipped monthly.
More recently, the heady entrepreneur detected the growing trend in the US for airbeds and sofas. "So I came to the conclusion that people would need a simple way to blow up a mattress or sofa bed for unexpected overnight guests," he says.
As a result, Flying Dragon now produces a full range of air pumps that can inflate a folded and stored mattress in a few minutes. There are various pump models, some working from AC or DC power and others from batteries.
"Our air pump was one of the top-10 best-selling products in Target stores in 2001 and 2002," says Poon, who also reveals that total sales of air pumps in 2002 topped the 270,000-unit mark.
Firms in the Flying Dragon group produce rechargeable powerbanks; rechargeable, battery-operated and AC/DC lanterns and torches; waterproof lanterns; key chain and LED lights and quartz spotlights; hi-volume/low-pressure air pumps and radio torches. The company was ISO 9001-certified in 1998.
Poon and his wife (also a director of several companies in the group) travel to overseas trade fairs every year to compare products and prices and look around for emerging innovative ideas that can be adapted for their specialist line of products.
This, and the contributions of their R&D team of 12 university and technical graduates in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland, helped Poon perfect a range of LED camping and barbecue lamps for outdoor-lovers and picnickers.
Is there a cloud on the horizon? Poon thinks so, and he is pessimistic about the future because he claims his business is under attack from unscrupulous copycats.
"Actually, copycats ruined our sales of powerbanks with their poor-quality imitations and eventually spoiled the market," he complains. "We see the same thing happening again with air pumps and must try to fight back."
He emphasises that he is not simply angry about legitimate competition, but with plain "piracy" of innovative and painstakingly researched and designed products.
"The thing is, these people, in trying for quick and easy business, actually do great harm to the market, to the reputation of Hong Kong and to the livelihoods of thousands of workers," Poon asserts. "There must be some form of control at a high level."
Having come up the hard way, it is certain Poon Tit Wing will find a way to fight on and continue supplying the world with quality products.
WRITTEN BY GEOFFREY SOMERS
Flying Dragon Development Ltd