23 Sept 2004
Hong Kong Watches & Clocks
Wing Fung Metal Works Mfy
A constant focus on quality is paying dividends for Wing Fung Metal Works Mfy
Times are always changing when it comes to timepieces, which is why Wing Fung Metal Works Mfy has dedicated itself to making elegant yet trendy desk clocks that meet evolving market needs.
Yip Sau Wing founded Wing Fung in 1987, having worked as an apprentice in the 1970s in a tiny workshop in downtown Hong Kong making watchstraps.
"My boss used to import genuine branded watches from Switzerland, and my job was to change the leather straps into gold ones so that he could re-export to Southeast Asian countries," Yip recalls.
He took over the business and ventured onto the Chinese mainland in 1987, opening a factory in Huiyang, Guangdong Province, to make brass watchstraps.
Intense competition soon forced him to give up watchstraps for mini desk clocks, which proved so profitable that, three years later, Yip moved to a 5,000-square-metre plant.
He also hired 250 workers to man more than 80 machines making desk clocks and other premium products such as key chains, clock necklaces, pen stands and money clips.
Yip's markets have also changed along with his products, evolving from Southeast Asia to the US, which takes 70% of his business, and encouraging him to open Benson Precision Inc in Canada in 1999 to better cater for overseas clients.
Wing Fung designs more than 10 new products every year "in the hope that at least one of them will become a hit" and will sustain orders for a while. "We offer nearly 200 different product items, and are also making desk clocks for a world-renowned Japanese watch company," Yip claims.
Good quality, low prices and prompt order fulfilment are the golden rules of continuing success, maintains the OEM/ODM clock manufacturer.
"I am adamant about good craftsmanship," says Yip. "I made gold, silver, then brass straps, but I didn't make alloy straps when everybody else was making them as I couldn't lower myself to such poor quality."
Apart from frequently monitoring production himself, Yip employs about 20 staff dedicated to quality control, which is a detailed process not done by random sampling.
"We make several tens of thousands of clocks every month, and our QC team checks each and every piece, at every stage, to make sure flawed items are returned and refined," he says. "That's why we don't have a lot of wastage."
Today, he sometimes uses alloy in his products for low-cost orders, but he always compensates with good craftsmanship; an approach that has seen Yip's major US client vote Wing Fung "the best supplier" since 1999.
Yip meets the challenge of maintaining this enviable ranking by undertaking a stringent streamlining process to make production more efficient, paying workers on a piece-rate basis rather than by time and replacing manual procedures with automation wherever possible.
On the promotional front, Wing Fung has traditionally relied on advertisements, but in the last two years Yip has joined the Hong Kong Trade Development Council's watch and clock fairs. "They have been very useful in gaining new clients," he adds.
Son Benson has been helping to create a new website, which is another exercise to cut costs. "We'll try to put all our products on the site, which is more convenient for clients and will save us the cost of sending catalogues," says Benson.
He is upgrading the website to include a factory tour and an order management function to facilitate order taking, and believes it will become Wing Fung's major marketing point that will attract clients from all over the world.
WRITTEN BY CAM CHEUNG
Wing Fung Metal Works Mfy
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