4 June 2007
Attractive Home Decor(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 06,2007)
Decorative Household Products
Onart Industries Ltd offers a broad range of well-designed decorative household products.
"He's flexible and capable, and always willing to adjust to fulfil customers' needs," says Onart general manager K.C. Fan, who is also the president's son. "Even unusual ideas become possible because he'll spend the time and redo samples to turn the clients' wishes into real products."
Even decades ago, when still in the military, the elder Fan loved to create do-it-yourself items, like hair clips or little gifts, for use at home. Forming a company and constantly introducing new products appealed to him.
Today, says the general manager, customers sometimes present the firm with a 'mission impossible' task. "Often, they've visited other factories without success. Then they come to my father, who is famous in such situations. Usually, he responds by providing several solutions so the customer can choose. Each solution comes with a different price, but he always finds ways to satisfy the need. Other factories do not devote the same attention and effort because it's time-consuming and creates costs."
He adds that Fan senior also develops most of Onart's products and patterns. "He's the soul of the company, and his designs make our products special. For example, an Italian customer once needed special decorative coverings, non-flammable and lightweight, for ventilation shafts on the ceilings in a Dubai hotel. The hotel had design and material requirements. Normally, we don't concern ourselves with ventilation shafts, but my father spent nearly a year to get everything just right."
Onart delivers middle-to-high-end decorative houseware and bathroom accessories to customers mostly from the US and Europe. This ISO 9001-certified enterprise appeals the most to traders keen on quality and value for money.
The latest Onart creations, some with brand names like SIA and Bombay Store, include mirrors, candleholders, vases, photo frames, jewellery stands, tissue holders, lotion pumps, tumblers, toothbrush holders and soap dishes. Many share colourful and intricate patterns, making for attractive sets.
The company starts with porcelain, wood, polyurethane and polyresin. "We're especially proud of our lacquer items made using a special decoupage technique to apply the patterns," says K.C. Fan. "The technique comes from Europe and brings out the true colours. We apply about 12 layers of lacquer." Customers supply some patterns, Onart initiates others.
This burgeoning family business also includes sister Sandy, in charge of sales, and K.C.'s wife Carol as finance manager. "As part of a family business, our management team has plenty of loyalty to each other and to customers," says Fan's sister, Sandy.
At the same time, says K.C. Fan, Onart aims to extend its reach globally: "Since 2003, we've exhibited annually at the Hong Kong Houseware Fair. Earlier, we had US and European customers, while now we've met new clients from Australia, Canada, Russia, the Middle East and elsewhere."
Wider exposure improves market knowledge. "Buyers from each country have their own customs and designs that we can adapt," he adds. "Our communications with them allow us to blend the needs of different nations to create more unique products."
Onart once attended a trade fair in Shanghai, but now tends to focus on those in Hong Kong. "For us, Hong Kong exhibitions are like showrooms for our new products, a junction between our factory and the outside world," the general manager says. "At the fair, we catch the attention of international buyers. We can then take them on a factory visit, as we can fly there in about 45 minutes."
Determined to impress the fair visitors, Onart insists on creating special tables, seats and even fabric wall coverings to adorn the firm's booth. "My sister and other colleagues always build and tinker with a simulation booth weeks before the Hong Kong Houseware Fair," K.C. Fan laughs. "Everyone passing our booth should see at a glance that it looks extra good. Then they understand that our products are special too. When you have clearly worked hard to prepare for a fair, it's easier to demonstrate that you did the same with your products."
The message, he adds, is that Onart is above all extremely design-focused. "We devote a lot of effort to studying market trends, colours and patterns and to satisfying our customers."
While the Fan siblings consider their father to be one of Asia's best designers, for extra European flavour Onart sometimes engages a French designer. "We provide ideas, and the French designer creates patterns for us," says K.C. Fan.
"Our customer base continues shifting to the high-end as clients request more distinctive products," he adds. "We design to follow that trend and, as buyers from each country request their own colours and designs, we gain a big advantage with our huge variety of products and creations. We have more than 10,000 products and samples to display."
Initially based in Taiwan, the company moved to the Chinese mainland in 1989. Today, about 400 people work at Onart's 12,000-square-metre factory. "Much of our equipment is really up-to-date with modern technology," the general manager states. "But certain products are more labour intensive, almost handcrafted, and the workers resemble craftsmen."
Normally, a minimum order is 600 sets with delivery time 75-90 days after order confirmation. "We enjoy our work. We are proud of our father and our products," he adds. "There's a huge satisfaction in creating the products and guiding them into overseas markets."
TEXT BY JOHN CAIRNS
Onart Industries Ltd