24 Oct 2008
Master Moves(HKTDC Houseware, Vol 01,2009)
Trading in Hong Kong since 1842, the family members of Masterful Ltd employ strong business ethics to stay at the forefront of the houseware, tableware and kitchenware sectors they so successfully supply.
Masterful offers an impressive range, and the firm's website has a service that enables customers to mix-and-match among the immense variety of handles, colours and materials available on offer.
"In this way, we are better able to consistently deliver exactly what our clients require, at the right price and with on-time delivery," says Manager Mustapha Ebrahim.
"We place a premium on customer satisfaction, and act promptly on customer feedback. Our role as a one-stop shop is to make the buying experience as streamlined as possible," he adds.
"ODM, OEM and private label projects are welcome, and we can offer a variety of services from initial design to tooling and from production to shipping," says Mr Ebrahim, insisting that the firm's policy is to engage in sustainable long-term business relationships.
A key element in this approach takes place in-house. "We try to instil a sense of social responsibility in our staff, some of whom have been with us for 20 years and more," Mr Ebrahim says. "As we are very customer-focused, we need our people to pay attention to every need and detail."
Working with the right suppliers is another key strategy. "We spend a lot of time seeking reliable manufacturing partners. We work with factories with the right quality of management who are willing to buy into our vision for a better way of doing business," he continues.
There are practical advantages as well. "With the scale that we operate on, Masterful has substantial buying power. That means the factory gets decent-sized orders and we get decent prices with savings that can be passed on to the customer," Mr Ebrahim says.
"Working as we do, with the reputation we have, also brings us into contact with firms looking to innovate either in terms of design or raw materials. As a forward looking company we are totally interested in this, as we are in any matter relating to environmental protection and consumer safety," insists Mr Ebrahim.
"This opens up new channels of endeavour," he adds. "We can pass on the information to some of our clients or we can become more directly involved and commission designs of our own."
Noting that silicone has quickly become a highly desirable material for kitchenware, he refers to other recent technological innovations, such as acid-etched tool surfaces for grating.
On the environmental front, he says Masterful insists on the use of virgin materials to make it easier to comply with relevant food safety regulations. "Also, where warranted, shipments are sampled for food safety compliance."
Masterful supplies two related, but different worlds: kitchenware for the retail trade, accounting for about 80% of its business, and the hospitality industry, which takes the remaining 20%. "We focus on the good, better and best product categories."
In each of these market segments there are a number of customers who are developing their own brand names, but with the cooperation of Masterful. "Those firms are located in Europe and North America," says Mr Ebrahim. "However, buyers in, say, India, prefer to go with our "Master Chef" brand. It saves time and money."
Mr Ebrahim says that Masterful is proud of its ability to extend its service and support beyond mere purchase and shipment. "Our customers are our greatest asset, and repeat business accounts for more than 95% of our turnover."
For an assured future, he insists, Masterful will continue to invest in providing service quality through staff training seminars on subjects such as how to deal with clients. "Our ongoing goal is professional executive development," he says.
This attention to service has helped build for Masterful an enviable reputation. "You know, it takes time to win complete trust from manufacturers and buyers alike," says Mr Ebrahim. "Yet, with diligence, by following one's principles and by helping one's clients whenever possible, it can be attained."
Masterful certainly lays all of its cards on the table, and seem to hold a winning hand.
TEXT BY TONY HENDERSON