Before the booming of the Internet, some Taiwanese industrialists already crossed the continents to go to Africa for business venture on their initiative. Ton Key Industrial Co., Ltd. is among one of them. Ton Key’s main business is export of whole-plant facilities covering various plastic production machinery, for example, PP mat plant facilities, PP rattan-like mat plant facilities, plastic recovery machine, PP woven bag plant facilities, and rope making machine. According to General Manager Hung Shu-Fen, the company currently sells its products to Africa, Middle East, Asia, Europe, and South America; even the biggest enterprise of Africa, Dangote, is the company’s customer.
General Manager Hung has more than 30 years’ experience in foreign trade. Ton Key’s foreign sales focus on the concept of “whole-plant facilities export”. Apart from selling machinery, the company also provides operation planning proposal. Moreover, parts replacement and after-sale maintenance service that the plant requires after starting operation is another important emphasis of the company, because it relates to after-sale services and it helps Ton Key gain better understanding of the local market’s economic pulse and stay close to the customer needs. Recalling the years when the company first started, Ms Hung said Ton Key cultivated the markets in a very traditional way, selling mainly machinery and equipment for producing daily-use commodities. The company expanded its scope of service to cover the entire production line only after achieving stable business, ranging from installation, repair and maintenance, parts supply, to technical guidance. This also includes the manufacturing and sales of the machines and tools that make up the whole-plant facilities, as well as the export of technology and know-how required to boost the overall performance of the plant facilities – what is called the “export of whole-plant facilities”.
The general manager believes that businesses should count on themselves to develop their own market and grasp every opportunity to get their act together. It is by this spirit that Ton Key has strode into the African market successfully while people in general are relatively unfamiliar with this market. Through the years, the company has achieved great success. For Ms Hung, business opportunities are everywhere. There are 54 countries in Africa; it is a very big market, with countries along the coast being more industrially developed and thus having more opportunities for plant facilities export. Considering the Muslims’ worshipping need, Ton Key offers PP mat weaving machine that supports fast weaving of different patterns and colors. The company also provides the woven net bag machinery, straw machinery, and other plant facilities export service for making various daily commodities. The company’s best-selling product is the PP woven bag machine, which can make PP woven bags rapidly ranging from rice bag, feed bag, sugar bag, to various industrial chemical bags.
Price war has led to a vicious cycle in the market in recent years; this is the worst thing Ms Hung would want to see. She thinks customers need communication and education to build mutual trust. She insists not to compete by cutting prices, but by elevating quality and offering high-capacity machinery to customers. In this way, Ton Key has gained the recognition of its established clients, and these clients also referred new customers to the company. General Manager Hung said she has seen good results of her insistence in trade shows; some customers return to her after being mistreated elsewhere. They might have bought machine at half the price but of much worse quality, then found that it produced finished products of very bad quality which simply could not be sold. Ms Hung showed a picture proudly and said, “See, our machine can run for 20 years and is still working; the woven products are still neat and pretty even at the edges.” Ton Key achieved an annual sale of 70 machines in 2000 in North Africa, East and West Africa; in 2018, it even sold the PP woven bag machine to the state-run enterprise in Egypt.
Ms Hung impresses others with her writing talent, as an arts graduate. Her work allows her to travel more than 70 countries; she often grasps her pen and writes down her feelings and experiences during the journey when she’s waiting at the airports. Her business trip writings were compiled into a prose collection and won a literary award. She mentioned that Ton Key started from scratch to such outstanding result through hard work. By learning with diligent effort to achieve professionalism, it does not matter if she does not graduate from related discipline or what restrictions she is subject to in the external environment. With her own talent and hard work, she has made it her own way, believing that customer relationship needs to be cultivated through long-term and sincere interaction.
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