Shen Pao Thrives on Custom Furniture

Posted in Taiwan on Monday, 27 June 2011. Print

The firm expands from single items to complete solutions

Shen Pao Thrives on Custom Furniture

The Shen Pao Wooden Co., Ltd. has experienced decades of ups and downs since its founding in 1920, but has managed to remain viable and competitive by nimbly diversifying its product lines.

M.C. Huang, Shen Pao's founder and chairman, set up the company and built his first factory in Longjing Village, in central Taiwan, to turn out audio speaker boxes, video tape boxes, and other boxes on an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) basis. The company soon turned to the production of furniture, including bookshelves, desks, cabinets, TV stands, and racks for audio equipment.

"Shen Pao developed Taiwan's first computer desk in 1983," recalls K.C. Lin, the firm's assistant vice president, "and has since become involved in the fabrication of other office furniture. To upgrade manufacturing processes and reduce dependence on manual labor, the company began to import advanced manufacturing machines from Germany in 1990 and has since rapidly automated its operations."

In 1991 the company established its second factory in the Quanxing Industrial Zone in Changhua County, also in central Taiwan, and a third followed in Longjing in 1998. After that the company expanded its manufacturing operations to encompass system furniture as well as interior design and decoration. "The manufacturing of system furniture is somewhat different from the traditional production of individual furniture items," Lin comments. "The former requires the application of more computer software to provide complete layouts, while the latter is simpler-the mass production of individual items. That's why we have to devote more efforts to equip our employees with computer know-how along with furniture manufacturing technologies."

To diversify its production lines to turn out the products needed in different markets, Shen Pao moved some of its production lines to China in 2001 and set up a plant in Taichang in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province.

"Currently," reports Lin, "our plants in Taiwan have a total of about 70 workers and our production base in the mainland employs between 100 and 150. In Taiwan we specialize in supplying high-quality furniture and interior design as well as custom-made furniture, while in China we provide mostly mass-produced general furniture items."

The products are sold both domestically and overseas. Prior to 2000 domestic sales accounted for 20% of total sales and exports for 80%, but the ratio has since changed to 40-60. Major export markets are Europe, the Middle East, Japan, Central and South Americas, and Southeast Asia.

In addition to upgrading its manufacturing technology, Shen Pao has worked hard to keep up with global environmental-protection trends and develop eco-friendly products made mostly of odorless, low-formaldehyde, recyclable particle board.

After years of effort, the company won ISO-9002 certification in 1995 for its manufacturing and service quality, and ISO-14001 approval in 2002 for its high standards of environmental management. The latter certification was renewed in 2008.

In addition to making furniture products, the company began to provide package custom-tailored furniture in 2007 and has positioned itself as a supplier of total solutions for consumers, builders, and interior designers.

"We offer our clients integrated services from interior design to custom-made furniture as well as the potential for maintenance in the future," Lin says.

The firm's one-stop services include custom-made furniture, project planning, floor planning and elevation, 3D visualization technology, residential and commercial space design, the selection of appropriate furniture for living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, kitchens, and offices, the provision of interior decoration and materials, and consultancy.

"It is very important that we communicate with our clients about their entire projects before we provide them with package solutions," Lin emphasizes. "We have to let them know all the details of the project we propose to do for them, and fully discuss with them the steps we intend to follow in carrying out the project."

Package projects are so complicated that project planners have to undergo training before being commissioned to undertake them. "We have to send our project planners to communicate with our clients, find out what they need, and learn the details of the whole project," Lin says. "Then they come back and discuss the feasibility of the project with the people we have in charge of manufacturing processes."

The company is initially focusing its solution service marketing on top-tier customers in Taiwan, the Philippines, and other Southeast Asian countries. "We plan to send qualified manufacturing engineers to these markets to offer consultancy to potential clients," Lin notes. "In the future, we plan to expand our solution service market to oil-rich countries in the Middle East."

Shen Pao welcomes companies interested in the solution service market to become its franchised partners.

(by Judy Li) Shen Pao develops streamlined, elegant custom-made living room furniture. System furniture is becoming increasingly popular in kitchens everywhere.



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