With the world's manufacturing centre now substantially located in China, the Hong Kong manufacturing industry has leveraged its geographic location to embrace the resulting business opportunities and has been rewarded with robust growth.
Leeport (Holdings) Limited, a Hong Kong-based importer and distributor of manufacturing equipment and tools for China and Asia is keen to become a leader in the manufacturing industry.
Headquartered in Hong Kong, Leeport has 16 offices, two exhibition centres and an advanced manufacturing technology centre in China. Today, the company has branched out into South East Asia, operating in major countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Leeport is engaged in offering a range of products for industries spanning heavy manufacturing through to consumer electronics. Product offerings include metal cutting and metal forming machinery, measuring instruments and cutting tools which cater for product design, production and quality control for clients in both small-and-medium-sized enterprises and large multinational corporations representing all segments of the manufacturing industry such as mould making, electronics, industrial machinery, automobiles, aerospace, telecommunication, infrastructures and metal parts.
At present, Leeport has 600 staff with more than half of them employed as sales or service engineers whose main duties are to serve as the company's "service ambassadors" or "bridges" between the company and its clients.
Alan Leung, operations director at Leeport says the success of the company lies in good customer service which creates longstanding relationships with its extensive pool of client.
"Our strengths are in our broad product categories and professional knowledge which allow us to provide our clients better product solution packages. Our sales engineers have a better grasp of product knowledge and this translates into increased client productivity and competitiveness," Mr Leung says.
The company's current business expansion requires even more sales engineers who possess at least a diploma in manufacturing or mechanical engineering. Candidates must also be able to demonstrate a passion for sales and manufacturing, be hard working and show initiative and determination for professional growth. "They must also possess positive thinking, 'a can-do' and helpful attitude, integrity and reliability," he stresses. "Frequent travel to mainland China is also required."
To enhance sales engineers' customer services skills and strengthen their business confidence, Leeport has developed an array of systematic staff training to ensure customer satisfaction.
For example, a "Service No.1" campaign is one of the company's latest initiatives to promote sales, installation and maintenance services. "This is a programme originally introduced in our repair and maintenance services department," Mr Leung explains. "With an aim to truly care for customers, the pledge is to provide an immediate response to clients' phone enquiries and respond within 24 hours with onsite service for customers located in Dongguan and Shenzhen."
A dedicated "Rocket programme" has been designed to accelerate new recruits' learning process, and help them swiftly adapt to the company's culture and operations. Under the programme, newly-recruited sales engineers undergo training in company culture, quality assurance and product knowledge. They also obtain practical experience and sales techniques through tailor-made training sessions, quizzes and hands-on projects.
"These new programmes have improved our staff quality and performance. New recruits' commitment and loyalty to the company has been strengthened as well," Mr Leung says.
He believes the diverse scope of business and rapid development of the company can provide its sales engineers with good career prospects.
New recruits with no related work experience can start as sales engineers. Depending on acumen and performance, they can subsequently move up to positions such as senior sales engineers, supervisors, sales managers, general managers and ultimately directors. Mr Leung says if opportunities are available, they can also switch to other departments of the company to enhance their work exposure.
Hong Kong's manufacturing industry is continuing to gain momentum brought about by the expanding mainland market. Mr Leung believes that demand for sales engineers will remain substantial. However, there are still challenges ahead, especially from mainland recruits who are both familiar with the mainland market and may have the added advantage of being able to cultivate better networks with clients on the mainland.
"Sales engineers in Hong Kong enjoy a competitive edge related to better language skills and an international outlook when serving overseas clients. However, they should continuously update their industry knowledge and develop new strengths to maintain their competitiveness," he concludes.