1 March 2003
Power Of Quality(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 03,2003)
Industrial Co Ltd
Chromex Industrial Co Ltd's emphasis on quality covers every aspect of production, from raw materials to finished products and packaging, and keeps defects to a minimum
Chromex Industrial Co Ltd vice-managing director Andrew Suen scoops up a handful of glistening metal battery caps and declares: "This plating is pure gold and ensures that the batteries we make last much longer than usual."
The company imports the bare battery caps from Japan and plates them at an own-plant in Hong Kong. There is also a silver-cap range.
Chromex, founded two decades ago by Thomas Suen, manufactures and exports a wide range of button cells. Production takes place at the Chromex plant in Guangdong Province on the Chinese mainland. The workforce there varies from 250-300 workers depending on demand.
There is a two-tier approach to marketing: one line catering to high-end demand, another for the low-end segment. The current product range includes alkaline batteries, button cell batteries, silver oxide batteries usually used in luxury watches and medical equipment, and carbon and zinc batteries.
Popular in Europe is a pack of assorted batteries that includes cells for watches, calculators, cameras, radios, and remote controls, and comes with 10, 20 or 30 assorted batteries. "These packs are a growth line for us," says Suen. The Chromex brand also features prominently on an important line of button cells pre-packaged on 10-piece blister cards.
Africa has been a big market for Chromex, and batteries are also exported to more than 40 countries including the US, El Salvador, Brazil, Nigeria, India, Dubai, Pakistan, and Germany. Some buyers are other corporations, including a foreign-invested B2B (business-to-business) customer on the mainland.
Chromex undertakes OEM business, including manufacturing batteries for a Japanese company and customers in Europe, including Germany.
As profit margins in the battery sector are thin, Chromex strives to keep costs low without compromising the quality of the raw materials or the chemical compounds. Silver oxide, for example, comes from Belgium. "These chemicals could be sourced on the mainland, but not of the same high quality. In all, about 95% of our materials are imported," says Suen.
While there is not a large sales force, many new customers arrive by way of referral, and products come priced in accordance with Chromex's reputation for quality.
The overall approach to quality extends to every aspect of production: from raw materials to finished products and packaging. This helps keep defects to a minimum.
Chromex recently developed a range of low- and mercury-free batteries. "The R&D work is done by our chemical engineers in our laboratory at the plant on the mainland," says Suen. He adds that Chromex is also considering the manufacture of lithium batteries, and presently looking for strategic partners.
As with many high-quality products, counterfeiting is a problem. "Fakes have been found in India and Turkey," says Suen. "But then, the Chromex quality wins over in every market and when the battery you bought starts to leak, you know you have a fake."
WRITTEN BY KAPILA BANDARA
Chromex Industrial Co Ltd
Flat B, 1/F, Hop Lung Fty Bldg,
1 Mong Lung St, Shau Ki Wan,
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