30 Aug 2007
Steeling Success(HKTDC Watch & Clock, Vol 03,2007)
|Over The Steel Ltd Steel specialises in high-quality steel watch bands, jewellery and accessories|
Quick off the mark, a two-year-old company has built an enviable reputation for the quality of its design and manufacturing and the speed with which it handles orders.
"Our company strategy is to work with ready stock," explains Over The Steel Ltd general manager Karen Wong. "We don't want customers to have to wait a long time for delivery, so we forecast and make extra production."
She adds that Over The Steel specialises in high-quality steel watch bands, jewellery and accessories such as bangles, bracelets, necklaces, pendants, earrings and key chains. "We also do cufflinks, money clips and special buckles for our customers."
The company has focused on OEM business, with much of its production faithfully reflecting customer drawings and designs, but it also has a strong design capability and is able to undertake sophisticated ODM projects.
Wong says there are plans to begin issuing own-brand products within the year, and logos and brand names are currently under consideration.
"We develop designs for customers worldwide," she states, explaining that the company is based in Hong Kong but headquartered in Italy.
As a result, Over The Steel has a lot of customers in Western European countries such as Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and France. "We also have customers in the US - which is our major market - and we have Latin American clients as well," Wong adds.
"There is demand in Argentina and Mexico for some lower-priced items, and I think Eastern Europe and Russia and some Asian markets also have great potential in the future."
Wong attributes the excellence of Over The Steel's design work and its extensive network of European customers to its strong Italian connections.
"Our design team is located in Italy, as the Italian style of design is very creative," she says. "We have two or three designers there, and our production manager, who is also involved in design, is based at the factory on the Chinese mainland."
Over The Sea's factory is located in Shajing Town, Shenzhen, and usually employs about 200 workers - although Wong says this figure can go up to 250 or more in peak periods due to labour-intensive polishing requirements.
"Polishing is the critical area for showing the quality of the stainless steel," she observes. "That is very important, although some clients ask for a matt finish."
Most of the steel the company uses is imported, although Wong says that Over The Steel anticipates being able to review that policy in the near future.
"We are planning to source on the mainland in future because the quality and reputation of steel there has improved dramatically, but we are currently buying mostly from Finland and Japan," says Wong.
The company's ready-stock policy means that it can also accommodate relatively modest minimum orders. "Our minimum order for ready-stock items is about 100 pieces per style, but for new customers we can do smaller orders - say 50 pieces - but the price is higher," Wong says.
"Ready stock can be delivered immediately after we receive full payment, but for other orders it's 13-25 days after confirmation."
Although she says the majority of business at present is in jewellery, Over The Steel is involved in the watch sector as a supplier of stainless steel bands and a manufacturer of a small number of fashionable finished watches.
"We do some complete watches - very trendy transparent models in a limited range of designs - as well as a lot of accessories and parts for our customers such as special buckles and expansion bracelets," says Wong.
Although demand for expansion bracelets is not as strong as previously, business in special stainless steel buckles is increasing. "Currently, we are focused more on the jewellery market than on watches," Wong explains. "Our biggest product line is bangles."
Over The Steel's strategy is to produce more new creative designs, some combining steel with other materials including aluminium, rubber, mother-of-pearl and carbon fibre. "We can produce about 30,000-50,000 bangles or about 18,000 bracelets per month," Wong notes.
The FOB Hong Kong unit price for an expansion bracelet or a simple pendant starts at around US$0.50 and for a regular bracelet or bangle it is about US$2.50-5.00. "Some of the latest designs that use materials other than stainless steel cost about US$6-8," Wong concludes.
Clearly, Over The Steel has the determination to make an international success story out of its ever-expanding selection of bands, jewellery and accessories.
TEXT BY ROBERT PIERCE
Over The Steel Ltd