6 Sept 2004
Initial Brand Holds Firm(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 09,2004)
Hong Kong Brands
A Direct Approach
Initial Brand Holds Firm
Star Industrial Co Ltd
Star Industrial Co Ltd makes a wide variety of household products under its Red-A logo
Apart from consistently supplying high quality products, Star Industrial Co Ltd stands out for two other reasons: it still uses its 55-year-old intuitively-discovered brand name, and it continues to manufacture exclusively in Hong Kong.
Established in 1949, just a year later the now well-known Red-A logo first appeared on all of Star Industrial's products, which in those early days comprised mainly brushes of all sizes and descriptions and soon-to-be-added assorted plastic containers.
Within a decade, from those first lines of toothbrushes, hairbrushes and lint brushes, the company had expanded its interests to include a variety of useful household products.
"However, the records show little thought being given to use a brand name or logo as, from the outset, the focus was pride in production," says assistant marketing manager Veronica Leung. "In those days, major decisions were made by the boss. They were usually plain and simple and that was that. There were no committees or group decisions, and the entrepreneurial spirit of the man-in-charge simply resulted in the subsequent placement of the Red-A name onto our products. With very little supporting marketing effort, the products would soon advertise themselves."
There was, however, a certain simplicity and attraction about the encircled Red-A logo. "The letter A is often associated with good, just like when you get an 'A' in an exam for top marks - while the colour red, of course, means luck and all kinds of good things in Chinese culture," says Leung.
Star Industrial today is one of the largest manufacturers of plastic wares in Hong Kong. The company's range of products extends from houseware and kitchenware to office products, heavy-duty containers and plastic components. Production takes place at a 250,000-square-foot factory in San Po Kong, Kowloon. More than 500 different items are produced for stock.
"In the 1980s, many local manufacturers switched their production bases to the Chinese mainland to benefit from low overhead costs. However, our management insisted on staying in Hong Kong to maintain high standards of quality, diversity of style and prompt delivery," says Leung.
"We are also fortunate in that production can be handled by a workforce of just 300, thanks to the efficiency and reliability of the German and Japanese machines that do most of the precision work," she adds.
Star Industrial continues to concentrate on product quality. "We achieve this through precision machining and quality raw materials, especially for food containers that must be up to FDA standards," says Leung.
There is strict QC at every step. "No sharp points or anything like that," she says, "and products have to meet our high standards. We also have our own delivery team to ensure we meet delivery dates."
Leung believes that strength in the technical field allows Star Industrial to stay ahead of its competitors. "Our in-house mould-making section uses CAD/CAE/CAM computer systems to handle any job from initial mould design to 3D visualisation and analysis, and from gating and cavity configuration to providing a data base for further production."
Electrical discharge and milling machinery, lathes, and drilling and grinding machines are used to produce exact-tolerance moulds for production from the finest raw materials, which include hard chrome-plated high-carbon and stainless steel.
"We have 75 injection moulding machines weighing from 10-1,300 tons and with a 15-100 tonnes clamping force. These modern, well-maintained machines are fully automated and have multi-stage speed and pressure controls. Larger units employ removal robotics, while imprinting includes both silk screen and hot stamping methods," says Leung.
"Apart from upgrading machinery, we recently built a clean room facility for our packaging department. This is mainly for medicine containers, but also allows the clean handling of electronic parts," she adds.
Star Industrial sells more to the US and Canada than anywhere else because it has a ready market of ex-Hong Kong people there. "These are immigrants who were also former buyers of our products. There are even some who opened up their own stores selling our products on to restaurants and retail stores," she says.
There is also a sales office in the US. "This allows us to sell to the likes of Kmart stores," says Leung. "Apart from that, our North American clients are more likely to come to Hong Kong exhibitions than are their European counterparts and having a local office helps them become familiar with us."
From humble beginnings more than 50 years ago to Hong Kong's star performer is a great record.
WRITTEN BY TONY HENDERSON
Star Industrial Co Ltd
25 Tai Yau St, San Po Kong,
Kowloon, Hong Kong