12 April 2007
Quality Service(HKTDC Houseware, Vol 02,2007)
Wan Kou Metal & Plastic Fty
|Wan Kou Metal & Plastic Fty makes stainless steel kitchenware and tableware to high standards of quality and design|
"We have been in business for about 40 years, and this is my father's factory," says managing director Law Yung Kai. "I came on board some 33 years ago, when the firm made penlight torches."
The first changes appeared in the form of barbecue utensils, followed by simple kitchen tools. "The goods we manufactured back then were pretty much low-end items," admits Law, "but were just what a good segment of the market wanted."
Law recalls when he wanted to make more upmarket kitchen implements. "I was in Germany about 18 years ago, and saw for the first time the range and quality of German-made kitchen items," he says. "I decided there and then to upgrade our own products."
However, realising that it was easy to say and hard to achieve, Law began by trying to establish working relationships with respected German manufacturers and importers. "I began a search among the most interesting and accessible German manufacturers, meeting whomever I could, and the result was contacts with people and companies that eventually proved pivotal in establishing very important business links," he smiles. "It was in those exciting days that I got my first German customers and they were and are top-of-the-line."
Law says he was also fortunate to receive a lot of support from Hong Kong exporters, though Wan Kou also worked directly with overseas customers.
Customer service is of the highest importance. "It is no use trying to fight on price alone," Law says. "Giving the customer better, reliable service and faster shipments elevates the company profile and makes a firm have a lasting impression."
In addition, on the factory floor the company has full engineering and design backup. "Our sales and marketing teams are really on the ball as well, and if a customer wants something done it is simply a case of that firm sending the ideas on to us to get on with."
Wan Kou handles both ODM and OEM items. "The main market for all the open items is Europe," Law says. "Clients come to our showrooms and really like to dig around and often base their own requirements on models they see there, modified of course depending on their country of distribution or the season."
He says that new ODM items appear each year. "This is not to match any particular trade fair," Law says, "but for the convenience of international buyers who tend to focus on seasonal buying decisions, thus new products come out twice a year. We get market information by attending overseas trade fairs, talking to buyers and visiting stores."
Noting the North American market, the Wan Kou management sees great opportunities there. Law feels his firm can find new sales avenues in North America. "I believe we can make a breakthrough into this very large market. At present, 70% of demand is from Europe and 30% from North America and we want to balance that out!"
The company has its own design and prototype machinery for making samples, and laser-controlled metal cutting machinery. "We purchase a lot of our machinery from Japan, while the mould making machines come from Italy, as do the polishing and bonding machines," says Law.
The machinery is installed at Wan Kou factories in Dongguan and Nanhoi in Guangdong Province on the Chinese mainland. The former is the larger facility at 38,000 square metres and a workforce of 800-1,200, while the latter is approximately half the size.
The main raw material is 18/8 stainless steel, mainly from Japan and nylon from the US, while bakeware employs silicone from Germany. The company also uses zinc alloy and nylon for its range of kitchen tools.
Law says that Wan Kou is changing its focus somewhat, more toward tabletop giftware items, and that it will expand the range offered to include products suitable for the US and Canada. "Good results are expected," he declares.
TEXT BY TONY HENDERSON
Wan Kou Metal & Plastic Fty