Thirty years ago Bonson Industrial was a small start-up family business. Today the company's innovative packaging design and manufacturing capability is recognised by the international food industry.
Celebrating 30 years of manufacturing success this year are David Tsui and his brother Johnny Chui, immigrants from Hong Kong. The family brought their injection moulding experience to New Zealand against the backdrop of uncertainty about what might happen when Hong Kong reverted to Chinese administration.
Bonson Industrial was first setup in a small industrial unit, where the business started out making plastic takeaway containers for Auckland's food service industry. "Back then our management meetings used to take place around the family dinner table at night," says Managing Director David Tsui.
Led by David, the business was built on family values, a foundation which has supported and continues to fuel the company's exponential growth. According to David, Bonson Industrial's investment focus to date has been on lifting its manufacturing capabilities. This has seen the company become a leading supplier of plastic packaging for food manufacturers.
"I think what really gives us an edge over our competitors (including low-cost Asia-based manufacturers) is our ability to come up with innovative food packaging designs that are cost effective, but still stand-out on store shelves," says David.
The company decided early on they did not want success to come at a cost to the environment. So in 1990 Bonson Industrial launched Savpac Marketing, a separate operation to focus on the development of biodegradable products and the elimination of unnecessary by-products and waste across the business. Emphasis on environmental reporting fits with Bonson Industrial's strategy of continuous improvement and has certainly helped the company streamline its operations.
World class manufacturing capabilities
Today Bonson Industrial runs a 24/7 operation within what can only be described as one of the country's most sophisticated food grade manufacturing facilities. Filled with the latest plastic injection, robotic and in-mould labelling (IML) technology, the facility is one continuous slab with no joins or seams. It is dust proof and isolated from the outside environment by unique hygiene controlled transition areas, David says.
Bonson Industrial's purpose built production facility has hygiene standards befitting a Hospital ICU.
Through David's leadership the company has set new manufacturing standards, and developed a business where the heart of success is family values
"We oversee the entire process, right from concept design, product prototyping, pilot sampling and tool design, through to mould creation and injection moulding", explains David. Each container is made to the customer's exact specification so the products integrate seamlessly into the customer's filling lines (i.e. the process where the food is added to each container).
One of Bonson Industrial's most notable achievements is their partnership with Sealed Air Cryovac, through which Bonson supplies to major supermarket chains and multi-national food processors - including Woolworths. Sealed Air Cryovac is well-known for its high standards in the international food industry, so this partnership is a true testament to Bonson Industrial's manufacturing success. Bellingham Wallace has worked closely with David and Bonson's management team for several years now.
Chartered Accountant Matt Bellingham has been working with Bonson for several years now and sits on the company's advisory board. "It's incredible to see how far Bonson has come since their very humble beginnings", says Matt. "Through David's leadership the company has set new standards of best practice in New Zealand's manufacturing industry, and developed a brand and business where the heart of success is family values."
Words of wisdom
Reflecting on the last 30 years, David has some advice for business owners:
- Never sacrifice quality. Quality of service and quality of product is what will keep you in the mind of your customers. It has been key to our longevity.
- You can't succeed alone. Treat all your stakeholders (staff, customers, and suppliers) as partners and always seek a win-win.
- Keep learning new things in and around your business. Learn from mistakes that have been made. These are the opportunities for growth and business improvement.