26 Sept 2006
Logical Moves(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 10,2006)
Sunnex Products Ltd
|Sunnex Products Ltd, famous for stainless steel ware, exports to more than 70 countries|
After building an international marketing network for its stainless steel cookware, cutlery, teaware and catering utensils, Sunnex Products Ltd expanded into a wide variety of plastic items ranging from heavy-duty pallets for stacking and moving cargo to multipurpose trolleys for use in offices, hospitals, hotels and fast-food outlets.
"We have also upgraded our wide range of stainless steel products and, for example, have introduced electric chafing dishes and large soup warmers that keep the food inside at a regulated temperature," says director Michael Yu.
"And morale throughout the company is on a high after we won the Certificate Award for the Best Brand Enterprise from the Hong Kong Productivity Council this June," he adds.
Sunnex now exports to more than 70 countries, mainly across Western Europe, North America and Asia, and has broken new ground in the Middle East, finding buyers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Sunnex products have also become a best-selling line at Shoemart, the big chain of department stores across the Philippines.
Yu attributes the firm's expanding global sales to its integrity in maintaining the same high standard of stainless steel ware for more than 30 years.
"Some competitors are under-cutting us by drastically reducing the nickel content in their utensils or eliminating it altogether," he claims. "Their products look the same in the showroom but after a while they start turning brown and rusty, and buyers learn to their cost that they didn't get a bargain but a problem."
He maintains that Sunnex adheres to a nickel content of about 8%-10% to meet AISI standard 304. "We make most of the 2-litre and 1.5-litre jugs used by Asian airlines to serve water, tea and coffee," he says. "Imagine what passengers would say if they tasted rust."
The firm is just as fastidious about the plastics side of its business. "Few people outside the logistics and container trade know that plastic pallets are now replacing the wooden pallets used in stacking and moving cargo," Yu points out. "Spilt chemicals, paints and other unsafe liquids can permanently taint wooden pallets and affect the contents of succeeding cargo items, especially if they are packed in cardboard boxes."
He points out that the US no longer accepts cargo stacked on wooden pallets, and insists on the plastic variety. "The Chinese mainland has followed suit, as are other countries. We seized the opportunity to launch the production of plastic pallets in all the different sizes used in the logistics business: 1.2xl.0m, 1.1x1.1m, 1.2x0.8m, 1x0.8m and so forth. These items have a much longer life than wooden pallets, are virtually unbreakable, resistant to heat and impurities, and at the end of their life can be recycled."
Other new plastic products include trays with non-slip surfaces and kitchen cutting boards, all made of environmentally-safe PC, PP and acrylic.
Looking ahead, Yu forecasts that the mainland will become the firm's largest growth area in terms of sales. "It's a tough market to break into because of keen competition from domestic brands," he observes, "but I would say that already we are close to being number two there, and again I expect our better quality and reliability to continue attracting new customers."
He says other factors that win over new customers are value-added services such as quick responses to inquiries, rapid delivery of orders, provision of marketing kits to stimulate sales and regular product updates.
Yu says he has one foot firmly planted on either side of the Hong Kong/mainland border. For example, he is chairman of the Hong Kong Metals and Manufacturers Association and vice-chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Machinery and Metal Industries.
On the other hand, across the border in Shenzhen, where the company employs 1,100 at its factory at Nan Ao, Yu is chairman of the Shenzhen Longgang District Nan Ao Business Association, vice-chairman of the Shenzhen Longgang District Business Association and a committee member of the local branch of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
An R&D staff of 20 is also kept busy working on new ideas and upgrades of established products, often being sparked to new heights thanks to flashes of inspiration from Yu's inventive father, a PhD in mechanical engineering who succeeded his own father in the original business, set up in 1929 to make Sunbeam-brand flashlights.
From flashlights to coffee jugs and pallets to serving trays, Sunnex continues to serve world markets well.
WRITTEN BY GEOFFREY SOMERS
Sunnex Products Ltd