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CollectionsPost-war IndustriesMemories of Industrial VeteransManufacturers with Worker's Background
Manufacturers with Worker's Background

Rather poorly educated, these interviewees joined local manufacturing companies while still very young and generally went on to learn their trade as apprentices and eventually masters. Most had entrepreneurial ambitions, seeing hard work as the only possible way they were ever likely to get ahead in life. As such, they actively learned knowledge of production and plant operation. Subsequently leaving their careers as wage-earners, many took the risky step of opening their own factories once they had mastered the technologies or client sources. Starting life as small enterprises in tenement house or industrial buildings, they generally only handled one or two specialised processes, supplying simple accessories or semi-finished products to larger manufacturers for final assembly. Due to the limited capital available to start ups back then, such new ventures were very reliant on the diligent hard work of teams of staff often made up relatives and friends. While they all began life from the basis of a skilled craft, these manufacturing plants all experienced different types and stages of development as they grew. Only knowing about production, some manufacturers did not understand how to run a business. As a result, their plants’ future growth was limited because they lacked order taking, personnel and financial expertise. Better able to anticipate and seize opportunities, other manufacturers were willing to hire professionals to develop their enterprises. As a result, they tended to thrive, often expanding into large corporations and even listed companies. Hong Kong’s history of excellence in the area of small to medium enterprises pretty much began with these manufacturers.

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