7 April 2005
Tried And True(HKTDC Electronics, Vol 02,2005)
"It fits in a pocket or handbag, is stylish and foolproof and is as popular with young people today as it was in 1987," explains assistant sales manager Teren Li. "You can hear it being played in cities all over Europe, the US and Asia and even at beaches in South America."
However, Manwa hasn't rested on its laurels and today makes more than 40 models of cassette and CD radios, specialising in water-resistant styles that can be used in the bathroom or on the beach.
"They reflect today's dynamic lifestyle where every second counts," Li believes, noting that many people carry their mobile phone into the bathroom so that they don't miss important calls. "So, why not a CD radio to keep up with the latest developments or just to enjoy your favourite melodies?"
Manwa has obviously come a long way since it was founded in 1975 by two enthusiasts who decided to pool their considerable talents and less considerable resources and set up shop in Kowloon City with a small team.
Manwa quickly gained a reputation for making high quality products, building a nucleus of overseas OEM or ODM orders through American and European agents looking for new products.
The company was one of the first to take the plunge when the Chinese mainland opened up, moving its factory operations to neighbouring Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in 1981.
Profits from its best-selling RP38 radio-cassette player and other products enabled Manwa to extensively mechanise its factory with the latest hi-tech equipment from Japan, and slowly reduce its workforce to the present 1,000 employees.
"One place where we haven't reduced manpower is in our R&D section," insists Li. "They're our think-tank and keep coming up with all sorts of exciting new ideas, as well as ways of simplifying present operation methods."
However, a stumbling block occurred when the company switched production from portable radios to portable CD players about six years ago.
"Because we had built up such a strong customer base we had to be 100% certain that the quality of the new items was absolutely reliable," Li recalls.
The production line was shut down as testing and fine-tuning went on for three months, and Manwa's quality control experts critically examined every aspect of the company's production and delivery systems.
Only when the Manwa management team was completely satisfied did the production line finally swing back into action. "Then we had to await the reaction of customers to the first shipments we sent overseas, and finally word came back that the response was highly favourable," Li says. "That was easily our biggest challenge."
Li has a simple reply when asked the number-one ingredient for Manwa's ongoing success story. "Honesty," he replies. "That foremost, followed by quality, reliability and after-sales and follow-up services."
Busiest before the two peak selling seasons - Christmas and Easter - Manwa can generally deliver new products in 45 days and repeat orders within 30 days.
"We chose well when we built our factory in east Shenzhen," Li observes. "We're only a few kilometres from Yantian container port, and that's a big advantage in time saved when you're moving so many containers overseas."
WRITTEN BY GEOFFREY SOMERS
Manwa Electronics Mfg Ltd