The beginning of OEMbusiness in the 1970s

Forward Winsome Industries Ltd’s earliest OEM client was British toy maker, Palitoy. Fowind helped Palitoy manufactured “Action Man” figures (known as “G I Joe” in the USA). Palitoy was later bought by American toy company Hasbro, which became Fowind’s new client. Hasbro often made large orders and delegated different procedures to different factories in Hong Kong. Fowind mainly supplied accessories and costumes for them. The assembling process of different partial products was carried out by larger factories. Under OEM arrangement, the client needed to pay for mould casting, which accounted for the highest portion of the manufacturing cost. In recent years, Fowind had handled products like “Star War”, “Spider Man”, and “Transformers”. The mould casting fees of “Transformers” could be up to tens of millions of dollars per year. Lam illustrated the OEM process with an example:
Hasbro designed “Transformers” toys based on the film of the same name. They would hand the drawings of the design toFowind for making “hand samples”. After Hasbro had revised and finalized the samples, Fowind would cast the moulds and begin production. If Fowind handed over the finished products in a satisfactory manner, Hasbro would renew the contract annually. The standards set by foreign companies were high. Apart from liaising with clients, retailers such as Wal-Mart would also come to the factory to check on product quality and to do site visit. Therefore, suppliers had to be vigilant about the hygiene and labour right conditions in the factory. They must not, for example, hire child labour. Lam would improve on the testing of raw materials, products and the packaging to ensure safety, following international standards set forth by the International Council of Toy Industries. Upon receiving a sizable order, Fowind, in its earlier days, would outsource the making of toy accessories to smaller factories. The American clients would go to these subcontracting factories to inspect and check the products.
In recent times, foreign companies requested that production should take place under one roof, therefore Fowind had stopped this outsourcing practices. Fowind hired university graduates to be engineers in their quality control department. From the 1980s, Hong Kong factories took OEM orders from famous toy brands around the world. Fowind’s clients include Hasbro, Hallmark, Sanrio, Sekiguchi, Play Mobile, Disney, McDonald’s, Lego, etc. Lam believed that toy materials, the perception of toys and the toy market itself were all ever-changing. Factories must introduce timely products that target different age groups and consumer groups. The second generation of Fowind’s founder had taken over the business, and the factory had moved on to producing products like stationery, souvenir gifts, sportswear and household goods. When the idea a new product is confirmed, they would research into the market as well as intellectual property issues for making and rolling it out. Lam believed that there was much difficulty in developing the Chinese market nowadays.

Company Forward Winsome Industries Limited
Subject Industry
Duration 20m4s
Language Cantonese
Material Type
Source Hong Kong Memory Project Oral History Interview
Repository Hong Kong Memory Project
Note to Copyright Copyright owned by Hong Kong Memory Project
Accession No. LKF-FW-SEG-007
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