1 July 2003
Hong Kong Gifts, Premiums and Stationery - Company Profile
A Perennial Favourite
Snowman Int'l Ltd
These bright and attractive accessories, designed to cheer up any workplace, come from Snowman Int'l Ltd
The ability to come up with exciting new ideas on a regular basis forms the major reason behind the success and longevity of Snowman Int'l Ltd, a Hong Kong promotional products company that is celebrating 25 years of operations.
"We started out in a small way and steadily grew," explains founder and managing director Paul Wong. Snowman, he adds, began by manufacturing metal and plastics parts for industrial products such as switches, before reorganising as a trading operation for promotional items.
The company opened its own plastics factory for these products in 1983 in Hong Kong, and moved production to the Chinese mainland in 1986. There are 40 employees in Hong Kong and another 180 at the factory in Shenzhen, including an R&D team of five engineers.
Snowman, also involved in a joint venture packaging business on the mainland, mainly produces key rings, desk items, rulers and bottle openers. Wong says that Snowman is particularly strong in the screen-printing and hot stamping processes.
According to Wong, he and his team constantly think up new ideas for promotional products. "A typical example is discovering how to turn an ordinary key ring into something eye-catching. Colour is one way of doing this, and developing items incorporating unique features is another," he says.
Stressing the importance in the market of gimmicks, Wong demonstrates the usefulness of a three-way bottle opener. "In the US, there are two types of bottle caps, made from aluminium or plastic. We made an opener for the aluminium type, but customers asked us to redesign it for both types. We also arranged for it to open those pull-tabs on cans. Women, in particular, like this feature because they can damage fingernails on the metal tabs!"
Though not an engineer himself, being in the promotions business for so long, working closely with customers and studying the market, Wong is able to develop many ideas himself, such as the three-way bottle opener. "The biggest challenge remains continually coming up with new items and designs. We can find good engineers in Hong Kong and the mainland, but to find ones who also understand the needs of the market is more difficult," he says.
Snowman carries out many OEM projects, while the majority of its customers are specialist wholesalers and importers in Europe, the US and Australia. Several have been clients for more than 20 years. "American pharmaceutical companies are among some of the biggest buyers today," says Wong.
"We work with Bright Idea, one of the fastest growing companies in the promotional business in Australia, and we are getting lots of enquiries from East European countries such as Poland and Latvia. They are learning from the West and have a lot of potential with plenty of new products that require premiums, just like the Chinese mainland market a few years ago."
Wong puts the company's success down to flexibility and a willingness to change with the times. "Product quality and timely delivery, along with good service such as keeping customers informed of developments at every stage, are imperatives," he says.
A quality assurance team keeps an eye on every stage of production. "Two years ago," he reveals, "we had an order for nine million key tags and placed inspectors in the factories concerned for two months."
Snowman is responding to changes in the industry on the mainland by increasing its sourcing reach to northern areas including Shanghai, where it has opened an office to act as a logistics agent.
"We can now ship from Shanghai or Ningbo direct to the US and Europe," he says, adding that this is another example of the service Snowman is able to offer customers old and new.
WRITTEN BY ANN WILLIAMS
Snowman Int'l Ltd
|Hong Kong Buyers Request Form||Overseas Buyers Request Form||More Publications|