10 April 2006
Light Reading(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 04,2006)
Mekosonic Enterprises Ltd
Not many manufacturers get to enjoy strong sales of a product originally designed and marketed some 10 years ago. However, the 3-in-One book lamp for people who read in bed has proved a remarkable evergreen for Mekosonic Enterprises Ltd.
"The 3-in-One is just as popular now as it was in the mid-1990s," says senior marketing executive Esther Lee. "Besides the lamp, it has a magnifying glass and a handy bedroom torch, with a clip to hold it next to the page being read. It weighs just 58g without batteries."
An updated, slimmer model in a trendy black finish has a third battery and a longer-lasting light source but no magnifying glass.
"Although also popular, the later model is yet to outsell the older version. But old or new, we don't mind," says Lee. "Between both models we have already sold well over a million pieces, and there's no sign yet of demand falling away."
The older version was one of Mekosonic's first products when the firm started in 1995, with a workforce of three that included Lee. Today, there are two self-owned neighbouring factories in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland that have a combined workforce of 400.
The total monthly output from both plants comes to more than 100,000 items across a range of electronic good such as clocks, radios, calculators, torches, lamps and sundries.
"Actually, we specialise in premium items and devise about 10 ultra-modern, new products every year," says Lee. "We are always looking for catchy new ideas, and we try to keep ahead of new trends for useful electronic premiums."
Another new product starting to catch on strongly with global customers is a lightweight electronic travel game set that fits in the hand and helps travellers beat boredom by offering a choice of backgammon, chess, draughts, solitaire, noughts and crosses, ludo and Chinese checkers. Dice and mini-chess pieces are also included.
"Judging by the market reaction, we are hoping the game set will become another best seller," says Lee. "Repeat orders are rolling in and, with the ongoing growth of the travel industry, business is looking good."
Noting that children of all ages appear fascinated by electronic gimmicks, Lee says Mekosonic offers plenty to occupy and amuse them - led by a multicoloured, circular, palm-sized calculator that by no coincidence looks just like an internationally-famous brand of coloured sweets.
Despite the usual problems with unfair competition and fluctuating prices for raw materials, Mekosonic perseveres, Lee adds, to the extent that the firm won a "best and most reliable supplier" award in April 2005 from a major US organisation.
"We are rightfully proud of the good quality of our products, and our punctual delivery and efficient follow-up services. However, we cannot, and will not, lower prices or quality. It has taken us more than 10 years to achieve our present standing in the industry, and we will do nothing to impair our image. We are entitled to a reasonable profit to stay in business, and we work with clients who are also looking to make a fair profit."
Mekosonic is doing just that, with main markets in North America and Europe (Germany, the Netherlands, France, Austria and Italy in particular), and solid Asian markets in Japan, Singapore and Thailand.
It seems that manufacturing with integrity and producing quality products that stand the test of time have certainly helped make Mekosonic the force it is today.
WRITTEN BY GEOFFREY SOMERS
Mekosonic Enterprises Ltd