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By Nur Syahiidah Zainal
BEING bold has served fishing gear manufacturer Hong Guan (Tackle) well over the years.
The company has continually tried out new ideas to set itself apart from its competition, an effort that has paid off, as it is a recipient of the Singapore Enterprise 50 Awards this year.
The company started as a modest retail store in 1942, selling ropes, hardware and fishing nets, before adding the fishing tackle retail business in the 1970s.
It launched its first proprietary brand, Pioneer Tackle, in 1997, led by managing director Lee Seng Shoy, who took over the family business in the same year.
Pioneer Tackle is now a popular brand, with a presence in many other countries. Photo: Hong Guan (Tackle)
Pioneer Tackle is now known regionally, with a presence in 31 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and even Brazil.
Its products range from hooks and rods to reels and lures. Hong Guan also has several other proprietary brands such as V-Tro, Daido and Accuz.
Mr Lee, who calls himself “the crazy one”, works closely with the company’s product development and graphic design teams to constantly come up with new ideas and ways to make their products stand out.
Mr Lee, seen here with model promoting Hong Guan (Tackle) products, is the driving force behind the company’s bold ideas. Photo: Hong Guan (Tackle)
He says that Hong Guan (Tackle)’s willingness to try out new ideas sets it apart from others in the trade who are more conservative.
For example, the company uses models, more often seen at car shows, to show off their products at exhibitions and conventions, while flamboyant sports cars were the inspiration behind their flashy Avant-Garde series of products.
Hong Guan Tackle is even rolling out vending machines that sell fishing tackle next month.
While the company cannot claim to have ground-breaking ideas, Mr Lee says: “We dare to put ideas that already exist into action, improvise it to suit our market needs, when no one else in the industry has dared to. To me, as long as we are remembered for something, even if it seems crazy, that is good enough.”
Venturing into overseas markets is a must for most Singaporean enterprises “if we want to survive”, Mr Lee says. But he highlights a few key issues to take note of.
The first is to be mindful of any sensitivities in the local market. “Every market is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all policy,” he says.
It is also important to stay focused on the company’s goals.
“Every company, big or small, has limited resources. Staying focused allows you to consolidate and grow in an identified market,” he added.
Words of wisdom
To Mr Lee, aspiring entrepreneurs have to act on their ideas, no matter how unusual or impossible they seem to be.
“Entrepreneurs are never meant to think and walk straight! No matter how good an idea is, it will never work until you work on it,” he says.
He adds: “Passion gets you started, but it is perseverance and determination, especially during tough times, that keep you going.”
Mr Lee also cautioned against making money the only motivation for going into business.
“Money should be a subset of your success, not the only measurement of it.”