Michael Wu, general manager of Zona Development Co., Ltd., founded in 1987 in Changhua County, central Taiwan, still stays true to his mission to be a top-notch bathroom furniture maker amid increasingly challenging market over the past two years, confirming to launch new products this year.
Starting as a subcontract metal processor, Zona later diversified into wire furniture and accessories like racks, shelves and hangers. However and realizing then intense competition in the segment prevented sustainable business development, Wu farsightedly moved to steer his company into the metal-tube furniture segment, specifically the bathrooms line about 10 years ago.
After years of hard work on production transformation and improvement, Zona has built good reputation as a top-caliber maker of bathroom furniture, including bathroom trolleys, corner racks, utility racks, multi-functional carts, telescopic shelves, bathroom cabinets, cupboard tables, class display stands and cabinets, towel holders, toilet paper holders and bathroom fittings. Designed to meet European preference for compact, stylish and futuristic exterior, Zona has found wide acceptance and fully exports to that market, based on recognized quality and reasonable prices.
Despite recovering global economy, Wu says that traditional industries like furniture recover much more slowly than high-tech ones, after admitting to having suffered a 20% sales decline in 2009, as well as increasing difficulty in doing business due partly to rising prices of steel and plastic that erode profit, and partly to more price-sensitive consumers who tend to shop for familiar products.
Notwithstanding, Wu seems undaunted. Confirming that his company has developed a series of innovative products to boost sales in the coming years, Wu says, “To overcome challenging times, we are working closer with partners to develop functionally innovative products and material combinations, while exploring new markets like India and Russia.”
For example, Wu shows the newest Shower Cabby series cabinets, which feature choice of colors and modular design that enhances expandability. More notable is that each cabinet, simply designed with frame and square glass faces, can be opened on any of the four sides as well as rotatable. Such intelligent design catches foreign customers' attention to underscore the company's dedication to R&D.
Practicing ISO standards also helps to build trustworthiness, especially among German buyers. Wu says, “Customers believe in our quality for they know Zona sticks to the books in quality control, from material spot-check to pre-delivery inspection. Every worker in our factory tries to achieve the best quality.”
Displaying perhaps the most valuable asset of SMEs in Taiwan, Wu says that his company is not discouraged amid the current tough time, but is determined to adapt to changing markets.
(by Steve Chuang)