2 March 2006
Upbeat About Business(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 03,2006)
J-Tech Corp Ltd
|J-Tech Corp Ltd offers offbeat miniature appliances for upbeat grown-ups as a main business line|
"We try to bring a bit of fun into the lives of teenagers and young working people who enjoy a bit of a joke," says sales manager Wang Yuk pointing to shelf after shelf of cute mini-fridges, ovens, hotpots, microwaves, rice cookers, TV sets, fax machines, electric irons and other gadgets formed mostly by colourful plastic cubes about 3-4 inches square.
"These products might look like toys," he adds, "but they're not. Most are actually alarm clocks that play a choice of four pop songs to wake a person, plus a few other gimmicks thrown in. We have a shock alarm for a sleepyhead that suddenly starts vibrating furiously and sounds like an electric drill next to the bed. But our mini-TV set is much better-mannered, and simply switches itself on - plus it has its own tiny remote control - while our radio alarm clock connects to an iPod as a speaker."
He says that these cute clocks are big sellers wherever customers have a sense of humour, particularly in the US, Italy, the UK and Japan, where they are usually available under the Homade brand.
However, J-Tech also has a serious side, one that has made it an international leader in providing a full range of electronic solutions including printed circuit boards, IC development and electronic assemblies.
"For example, we provide the electronics for a range of international best sellers for a fast-food chain comprising hit songs from pop stars," says Wang.
"Again we see the mini-cube format, with each singer's picture and the name of the song pasted neatly on the front. Fans all over the world are now clamouring to get the full set of a dozen or more, which fit into each other in concertina style."
Completing J-Tech's immense diversity, Wang mentions three own factories on the Chinese mainland that take care of all the firm's manufacturing operations, including plastic injection moulding, assembly and metal punching work.
"Much of our production is for OEM clients all over the world," says Wang. "In many cases, we simply provide the electronics while the shell of the item may be made and assembled elsewhere."
One such recent big deal involved six million pieces of the electronic circuitry for a small hand-held game that proved a runaway success in the US. "This order took almost a year to complete, from design approval to final delivery, and was worth about US$1m," says Wang. "We prefer large orders as we have to meet the payroll needs of a combined mainland workforce of 1,500-2,500 people."
Wang says that when the firm began operations in the 1980s, making watches, there was an abundance of young, unskilled workers moving south to what became the Pearl River Delta factory belt. "Recruitment today is far more difficult," he adds, "and so one of our factories was set up on the border between Guangxi and Guangdong provinces, where recruiting problems are not so serious."
A far bigger problem, he says, is a steep rise in manufacturing costs. "The cause is the huge increase in oil prices that has affected the cost of almost everything used in the manufacturing process: metal, wires, plastic and so on. Prices are increasing almost daily."
Competition is another worry. "Price-cutting and copying are serious aspects of business that we need to pay constant attention to," says Wang. "Our main retaliatory weapons are consistent quality, reliability and value for money combined with innovative and original products."
Another plus for J-Tech is that, since July 2005, the firm took on board the EC directive, RoHS. "Now, all our products meet those stringent regulations prohibiting use of any materials hazardous to health and/or harmful to the environment," says Wang.
Looking to the future, Wang says, "In reality, the future for our business is just next door - on the Chinese mainland with a huge number of potential customers, especially throughout the wealthy coastal cities. Following the recent World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Hong Kong, we are also looking to the mainland, as a WTO member, to drop its remaining protective policies and tariffs and open up still more."
From fun to free market progress, J-Tech Corp Ltd seems well prepared for an even brighter future.
WRITTEN BY GEOFFREY SOMERS
J-Tech Corp Ltd