Media

Publications

Interview by Angling International Magazine - June 2015

 

 


Fishing Gear Maker Casts Net Wide And Finds Success - Mr Lee Seng Shoy

 

 

Mr Lee Seng Shoy - Being Awarded The Entrepreneur Of The Year, EYA-Established Entrepreneur 2014

 

 


Singapore Prestige Brands Award 2014 Winner, Pioneer Tackle - Casting The Net Into History

 

 

Entrepreneur awards: Fishing tackles a winner

 

 


Pioneer Tackle is one of the winners of the prestigious Singapore Prestige Brands Award 2014 (SPBA)

"Pioneer Tackle" is one of the winners of the prestigious Singapore Prestige Brands Award 2014 (SPBA - www.spba.com.sg) of 1.) Singapore Established Brand and 2.) Maybank Regional Brand categories. Also, we are the only company to win both categories this year. The criteria has been very stringent, covering first the company's mode of operations, its branding positioning, its clear vision of the brand, its focus towards both customers and respective market, its core value and the integrity of the brand etc.

Despite all the coverage that we have been receiving, with more to come on the official gala dinner night award on the 22nd Oct, as well as the joy our entire company is enjoying for winning these 2 awards, we are mindful that we certainly wouldn't be able to do it without your support, our most valued customers!!!

May we take this opportunity in extending our most sincere appreciation, with gratitude towards you - our valued customers, for your support!!!


Mr Lee Seng Shoy - One of the Honourees For Spirit of Enterprise (SOE) 2013 Award


 


PT PIONEER is One of the TOP BRANDS in South Africa

Tackle Trade World surveyed a selection of retailers, distributors, manufactures and the angling press in South Africa to supply this information. It is intended as a guide.

 


Tackling the business head on
Published in The Straits Times, Oct 30, 2009

By Francis Chan
BEING his own boss was always the game plan for fishing expert Lee Seng Shoy. And he did not have to cast too far a net to find his niche - he found it at his father's modest tackle shop in Beach Road.
But the former Anglo-Chinese School student soon found that taking over Chop Hong Guan in 1996 was not such a great catch.

'I joined my dad at the company after I left the army, but believe it or not, I saw nothing in terms of how I could grow the business,' said Mr Lee, 35.

'But I really wanted to run my own business, so I said to myself, 'let's just start from this trade'.'
Although it never hit great heights, Chop Hong Guan had a venerable pedigree. It was started in 1942 by Mr Lee's late great-grandfather Lee Zai Chuan.

Mr Lee's 62-year-old father Lee Chiang Loy carried on its trade of distributing shipping equipment - before adding the fishing tackle retail business in the 1970s.

Said Mr Lee: 'He was just running the business to survive, to put a few bowls of rice on the table, and to make a living.'
Despite the challenges and the very modest starting point, the go-getting Mr Lee has managed to build a multimillion-dollar business.

The company, which has been operating under the name Hong Guan (Tackle) since 2000, recorded sales of $8 million in the last financial year.

From a pre-war shophouse, Hong Guan now operates out of a three-storey warehouse and office at Kaki Bukit. It employs more than 22 staff and has subsidiaries in Malaysia and Indonesia.

That is all quite a change from the situation 13 years ago - when the company comprised Mr Lee, his father and an aunt, and registered a turnover of about $700,000 a year.

Hong Guan has also sailed through the downturn - perhaps going fishing is the ideal escape from the economic gloom - and is set to break a landmark level in sales this year, thanks to its own Pioneer International Tackle brand of products.

'If business continues to grow at its current pace, we are definitely on track to record about $10 million in revenue for 2009,' said Mr Lee, a rare fourth-generation business owner in Singapore.

Hong Guan's success was due to changes made by Mr Lee, including a key decision to focus fully on the fishing tackle trade - manufacturing and distributing reels, rods, hooks and lines.

Yet Mr Lee, a father of two, knew that a retailer and distributor of fishing tackle in a small domestic market was always going to mean a small-scale enterprise going nowhere.

'There was no way we're going to survive just operating in Singapore, so when I joined the company, I immediately looked abroad and the first market naturally was Malaysia,' said Mr Lee, who is Hong Guan's managing director.

But before he could expand, the estate management graduate from Australia's Curtin University became entangled in supply issues.

'As a retailer, every wholesaler in the market was supplying to us, so when we wanted to become a wholesaler, we naturally faced a lot of resistance from the main suppliers,' he said.

Suppliers from Japan and South Korea - the key exporters of fishing tackle - were reluctant to deal directly with Hong Guan.

The firm has always been a retailer, and so did not have a ready base of other retailers to serve.

'These exporters already have a customer base in South-east Asia, delivering orders of 2,000 pieces, for example, so obviously they won't bother selling 200 pieces to a new wholesaler like us,' said Mr Lee.

'But luck was on our side, because from 1997, a big wave of Chinese manufacturers began to emerge.'

Manufacturers in China, eager to make inroads into the South-east Asian fishing tackle market, readily supplied Hong Guan.

However, Mr Lee took the relationship with his Chinese manufacturers one step further - by working with them to develop his own brand of fishing tackle in 1997.

'I found that when I sold fishing tackle under a principal brand, I was always restricted in where and how I sell them,' he said.

'But if I sold my own products under my own brand, I was free to introduce them wherever I wanted. So I rolled out our own Pioneer brand of products.'

The move to use branding as a growth strategy was something he picked up from reading the success stories of local entrepreneurs like Osim founder Ron Sim.

'Since young, I have been reading about entrepreneurship and there's one saying in Mandarin that I still remember which goes: 'Create your own brand and the world becomes your stage', and that has stuck with me till today,' recounted Mr Lee.

Hong Guan clients selling the Pioneer brand of fishing tackle say Mr Lee's products have been gaining popularity among anglers in recent years.

'One of their plus points is that they have different tackle that cater to the mass- and high-end markets,' said Ms Joyce Chia, co-founder of Regal Tang, a fishing tackle retailer.

'And Pioneer tackle has reasonably good performance, which explains why they are gaining popularity among our customers.'

Pioneer fishing tackle is exported to about 18 markets, from South Africa to New Zealand, helping Hong Guan register growth of between 15 per cent to 20 per cent over the past three years.

Next up will be a new line of higher-end Pioneer fishing tackle, to be rolled out next year.

Mr Lee remains confident that Hong Guan will keep growing. He hopes to double revenue within the next five years and possibly take Hong Guan public in the near future.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.