1 March 2003
Boxing Clever(HKTDC Packaging, Vol 01,2003)
The Extra Mile
Camford Printing & Mfg Co Ltd
|Camford Printing & Mfg Co Ltd specialises in luxury packaging such as jewellery boxes and watch boxes|
Times may be tough in the printing and packaging business, but Camford Printing & Mfg Co Ltd is undaunted. Camford, which currently employs around 300 people in two manufacturing plants near Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland, is investing in expanding its production capability.
"This year could be a little hard," admits Camford manager Sunny Wong. "However, we are going to build a third plant on the mainland which should give us the opportunity to build a bigger market share."
This upbeat approach is characteristic of a feisty Hong Kong company that long ago proved that it has both the flexibility and the staying power essential to survive in this fiercely competitive field.
"Our company was established in 1970, so we've been in the business for more than 30 years," Wong reflects. "In the beginning we focused on simple printing jobs such as labels, leaflets and basic packaging. About five years ago we expanded from simple packaging to more sophisticated products such as stationery and rigid boxes."
The change of style opened up a number of international markets for high quality packaging to Camford, which initially built its business in partnership with toy manufacturers in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland during the 1970s and 1980s. Diversification during the 1990s has paid off handsomely for the company.
"Twenty five years ago we just focused on the local market," says Wong. "Now more than 70% of our orders come from overseas. We're very strong in Europe, especially Germany, concentrating on luxury packaging such as jewellery boxes and watch boxes."
Camford's biggest order to date came from a German company that wanted no fewer than a million jewellery boxes. No problem for Camford, which prides itself on speedy order turnaround.
"Every month we can produce more than 700,000 pieces, and we do around US$3.8m-worth of packaging business per year. After an order is confirmed we can generally deliver within 35 days, although for the really big orders that can take a little longer but no more than 55 days. Our minimum order is 2,000 pieces," Wong explains.
One reason for Camford's success is its versatile design capability. The company's Hong Kong-based design team can respond to specific client instructions, or submit one of Camford's own basic designs as a starting point. This is then "tweaked" until it becomes something unique to the customer.
According to Wong, the company is able to work with a variety of packaging materials, including plastics, but has special expertise in paper.
"Essentially we're still in the paper business, but we've switched from straightforward printing to something that's driven more by hand crafting and design," says Wong. "Our paper products are recyclable, but we do not use recycled paper. There doesn't yet seem to be a demand for that, although some customers have moved from plastic boxes to paper, which may reflect environmental concerns."
As its products have become more sophisticated in nature Camford has expanded the scope of its marketing, and is now beginning to explore the possibilities of servicing North American clients, an area which Wong believes has considerable potential for growth.
"This year we have some business with the US which we're trying to develop - about 10% to 15% of our turnover, which is a good start," he explains.
The company's concern with quality is reflected in its development as a manufacturer of high-end packaging, and in its ISO 9002 and ISO14001 accreditation, but Camford has not forgotten its roots.
"About 30% to 40% of our business is still simple packaging," says Wong. "For some electronics manufacturers we also provide the manuals or leaflets - it's complimentary business."
WRITTEN BY TAMARA CHEUNG
Camford Printing & Mfg Co Ltd
Suite A & B, 12/F
Kwai Shing Ind Bldg
36-40 Tai Lin Pai Rd
Kwai Chung, New Territories
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