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Taking charge

Published on Friday, 31 May 2013
Kelvin Leung
Photo: Berton Chang

Leung plugs for family’s 60-year-old Yan Hing machinery firm

At the age of 25, Kelvin Leung has little difficulty striking deals with business tycoons twice his age. Leung, the third-generation owner of Yan Hing Group, a Hong Kong-based machinery manufacturer, is pioneering the company’s marketing and sales operations as its chief marketing supervisor.

When Leung first started working for the company in 2009 as a fresh graduate, he saw the need to put more effort into marketing because of the fierce competition from mainland manufacturers.

“My grandfather, Leung Yin, founded the company in the 1950s in a tiny industrial building in Sham Shui Po. He was exceptionally passionate about machines and he created the first product – a fully manual injection moulding machine, used by plastic-ware factories,” he says.

“The quality of the machines from then on was outstanding and word of mouth alone was enough for the company to keep expanding, with little need for marketing. But in the past decade, similar companies on the mainland have been growing rapidly, and so well-planned marketing strategies are required for better development,” he says.

An economics graduate of University College London, Leung has always been interested in marketing but had never thought of working for the family business until he began to learn about it.

“My father seldom talks about his work and I had been away from my family, studying in Britain since secondary school, so it was not until the final year of my university studies that I took a good look for the first time at what had actually been supporting me,” he says.

Leung began as a trainee in the factory plant during the summer break, learning about the manufacturing process. “From purchasing raw materials to assembling the machine, the whole process requires strict quality control. It was then I realised the earlier generations had done a great job in maintaining strict quality assurance. Many of the employees who taught me about the manufacturing process had worked there more than 20 years. I saw the effort they put into the business, and as part of the family, I believed I should play a role. I began to feel a strong affinity for the company and, in the end, I turned down an offer from a bank to take care of the family business instead,” he says.

Leung’s family never urged him to work in the family business. His father thought he would join only if he was interested and that it would not benefit the company to force the responsibility onto him.

“My elder brother and I worked in the company because we wanted to. My father believed that we should be working in our interest instead of shouldering such a heavy burden. He also believed in giving us the autonomy to manage it as we saw fit. I am very grateful to have been able to join the family business and, within this platform, continue to expand,” he says.

There is a saying that maintaining a business is even tougher than opening one, but Leung didn’t feel he was simply trying to keep a business going. “I see myself instead opening a new business because the market changes so quickly and there are a lot of new things to deal with,” he says.

As a member of the third generation, Leung thinks the pressure lies in adapting to changes in the industry.

“Production of plastic ware is getting more complicated, with an ever-growing variety. We serve a real diverse client base – producers of cars, houseware, electronics telecoms devices, military equipment,” he says.

“Machine requirements are different for each customer. Our strategy is to have a selection of ‘tailor-made’ machines for a wide variety of industries. We constantly absorb new trends in market requirements and make improvements. The key to serving customers is to make sure every step we take, we move with our customers,” he says.

The group has big plans, with a production plant in Foshan under construction. “This will be another milestone. With the new plant, productivity is expected to be four times our present production volume. At the same time, our sales volumes will also need to grow four times. I will focus on markets in mainland provinces besides Guangdong, and overseas markets too, especially Southeast Asia, through the selection of quality distributors and branches,” says Leung.

Finding a reliable distributor is not easy, especially for a young man like Leung. “I am making deals with people in their 40s and 50s. At first, they are hesitant about dealing with me, but I show them respect, and my knowledge of machinery gives them confidence. I focus on long-term, trusting co-operation with every party in which all outcomes are mutual win-win situations. That is a belief shared by my father and grandfather,” he says.

Leung prefers collaborating with like-minded businesses rather than well-established ones. “There is a partner in Indonesia who is passing on his business to the next generation and I work very well with them because we think the same way. My company is upgrading its ERP (enterprise resource planning) system to make production more efficient, and they plan to do the same. We face similar challenges and take a similar approach towards them, which lets us work so well together as business partners,” he says.

Leung hopes to achieve higher productivity at a lower cost, and is lucky to have his elder brother to work with him.

“My brother studied for a master of science in production management at Cambridge. He serves as the chief production supervisor, leading internal operations. I am the marketing and sales person who takes care of external affairs. Together, we hope to take our family business to another level and maintain our grandfather’s belief in quality products and meeting clients’ needs,” he says.


Kelvin Leung's 5 top aims in the next 10 years

PRODUCTIVITY With the expansion involving a new plant in Foshan, Leung hopes to increase production capacity by four times.

DISTRIBUTION Form a network of quality distributors, agents and branches outside HK, especially on the mainland.

DEVELOPMENT Develop and produce clamping-force machines with up to 3,000 tons of force.

INNOVATION Continue to develop efficient solutions for various industrial customers.

SUCCESS To be one of Asia's top injection-moulding and die-casting machinery firms.

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