Fujian Mingji Hardware Knife and Scissors Co., Ltd

Knife Cutting New Forces! How does "Made in Yangdong" overtake on curves and successfully sail out to sea?

publish:2023-09-25 10:10:09   views :35
publish:2023-09-25 10:10:09  

How much can a mid to high-end knife cost? Outsourcing for the European and American markets is generally around $20 to $30, but the brand knife of Guangdong Tuobituo Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "Tuobituo") located in Yangdong District, Yangjiang City can be sold for $200, with a profit twice that of outsourcing.

In the Yangjiang knife and shear industry, which mainly focuses on OEM exports, Tuobituo is a newly emerging brand that has gone global in recent years. Its "KIZER" independent brand has become a well-known mid to high-end outdoor cutting tool brand abroad. Last year, the enterprise was also selected as a national specialized and innovative "Little Giant" enterprise, achieving a zero breakthrough in this field for Yangjiang Knife and Scissors Enterprise.

Compared to the long development history of the hardware knife and scissors industry in Yangjiang, Tuobituo, established in 2009, is very young. What is the "password" for its curve overtaking and successful brand launch? With the support of international brands and "Little Giants", how will "Yangdong Manufacturing" group together and build international advantages? Recently, the author visited Yangdong to explore the transformation and upgrading of local hardware knife and shear enterprises, as well as the way their brands go global.

Practice internal skills well to provide solid support for brands going global

Building a brand and going global is the direction set by Zhou Hongfeng, the founder of Tuobituo, at the beginning of his career.

At the beginning of this century, Zhou Hongfeng was engaged in the trade of domestic fast moving consumer brand products. By chance, he came into contact with the scissors industry and witnessed the rapid development of Yangjiang scissors. The complete industrial chain and thriving production and sales ecosystem deeply attracted him, but he also found that many factories engaged in OEM business, exporting products rather than brands. This shows Zhou Hongfeng the opportunity.

In 2009, Tuobituo was established in Yangdong District.

It is obviously not easy for a new brand to establish its reputation in domestic and foreign markets. A detail reflects the early dilemma: at that time, high-end steel in China started late, and the steel used by Tuobituo's own brand was compared with foreign major brands, imported from Europe and America, and even from the same steel factory. However, the customer's first reaction was that it was fake.

In order to expand the end market and promote our own brand, we often participate in foreign exhibitions. However, we are often the only Chinese knife and shear brands at exhibitions, fighting alone. "Liang Qifan, senior partner and deputy general manager of Tuobituo, believes that these are secondary, and the most important thing is that foreign countries do not trust China's mid to high end knife and shear brands.

To gain trust, practicing internal skills well is a compulsory course. Tuobituo places independent research and development and design at the forefront, providing the driving force for the brand to go global.

The differences in food culture between China and the West have led to differences in knife usage habits. European and American families need to use different functional cutting tools to handle different ingredients. In order to better develop tools that adapt to foreign consumers, Tuobituo has pioneered a dual combination model of "global open designer cooperation+internal diversified design team" in the industry, and has signed contracts with more than 100 designers worldwide. This model can better combine the technological accumulation of traditional cutting tools in Yangjiang with the design capabilities of foreign designers, market-oriented, and create hard core products that can challenge the world, "said Liang Qifan.

Many designers have a certain reputation in the outdoor knife industry and have their own fans, "designer McRonzo told me. This year, KIZER launched a popular outdoor knife that features a movable shaft lock that can adjust the force and is more ergonomic. The price range is between $60 and $170, which is popular among overseas knife enthusiasts. This year, Tuobituo will also launch a modern retro style folding knife called "Mystic" with American knife designer Paul, inspired by the old harpoon gun in concept and design. This is a tribute from a designer from a fishing port city in the United States to his hometown and a distant echo of the coastal city of Yangjiang.

With a diverse design team, Tuobituo has launched over 100 diverse products to meet personalized needs, which are popular among young people both domestically and internationally. Its products have won the highest honor of the Hanover Industrial (IF) Design Award, GOLD AWARD, China Red Cotton Design Award, and other domestic and international awards. Currently, Tuobituo has obtained over 158 effective appearance patents. The independent brands TUO and KIZER series developed based on the European and American markets have now become an important member of the well-known brands of high-end kitchen knives and outdoor knives in Europe and America.

The path of branding is becoming wider and wider, even against the backdrop of the complex international trade environment that has impacted the hardware cutting industry this year, Tuobituo's brand business is actually improving, accounting for 80% of the total export volume. Its high-end outdoor knives are priced at $80-200 each, with profits twice that of similar OEM products. More importantly, after opening up domestic and international end markets, brands have opened up vast space for the future growth of enterprises.

Breaking through the "bottleneck" technology of high-end materials

Looking back at the brand's journey to the sea, Liang Qifan admitted that in addition to writing articles on design, Tuobituo also hones its true skills in quality.

Like many knife and shear enterprises in Yangdong, entering the international market will encounter a common problem: domestic high-end steel started late, and the proportion of tool steel usage in the country is very small. Steel mills have insufficient investment in the research and development of some special steel, resulting in high-end tool materials relying on imports and high costs.

Previously, Tuobituo directly established long-term stable cooperative relationships with multiple internationally renowned steel mills, with core steel being world-renowned. But with the spread of the global epidemic, the cost of raw material procurement continues to increase. In order to take control of their own destiny, Tuobituo has established industry university research cooperation relationships with multiple universities and research institutions, jointly established the Tuobituo Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative Innovation Center for Knives and Scissors with Wuhan University of Technology, and jointly established research institutes and doctoral workstations.

The 'Domestic Powder Metallurgy Damascus Martensitic Stainless Steel' project jointly developed by Tuobituo and multiple institutions has broken through the 'bottleneck' technology and broken the monopoly of high-end powder steel imports in one fell swoop. "Zhang Qinyi, an associate professor at the School of Materials at Wuhan University of Technology, who participated in the project research and development, introduced that its high-end powder steel M390 steel has achieved mass production, with performance comparable to foreign standards, achieving high hardness and sharper edges More durable effect.

In the laboratory of Tuobituo, gift knives produced using high-end powder steel M390 have a thick and heavy feel, and can be tested without corrosion points in 8 hours of salt spray, while German steel can only resist corrosion for 2-3 hours. Another type of steel knife with a vanadium content of 4% has an initial sharpness about twice that of German steel.

Making a good knife, technology is the key. "Liang Qifan introduced that the company's annual R&D investment accounts for over 5% of the annual sales revenue and continues to grow year by year. In addition, Tuobituo is also the first to introduce heat treatment equipment in the Yangjiang knife and shear industry. Through independent innovation, it has broken through the heat treatment process of high-end tool materials, further improving the hardness, sharpness, durability, and rust and corrosion resistance of the tools, greatly improving the quality of the tools and the added value of the products.

Thanks to continuous technological innovation, in August last year, Tuobituo was selected as one of the fourth batch of national level specialized, refined, and new "little giants" enterprises, achieving a zero breakthrough for Yangjiang enterprises in this field.

To make small knives a big industry, Tuobituo has greater ambitions: to deeply cultivate the European and American markets, especially the United States, focusing on high-end outdoor knives and kitchen knives. It also plans to open offline flagship experience stores to enhance the experience of local customers participating in consumption, strengthen brand power, and gradually expand market share.

In order to better enter the global market, Tuobituo has gradually established a system of partners and modern professional managers, and also focuses on implementing a joint-stock incentive policy. Through stock incentives, it retains mid to high-end talents, attracts talents from key links, and stimulates internal innovation vitality of the enterprise.

The "Yangdong Knife and Scissors" Industry Accelerates the Step of Going to Sea

After leaving the urban area of Yangdong, drive along Dongfeng Fourth Road, Guangnan Line, and New Industrial Avenue. The road stretches for several kilometers on both sides, and you can see the factory buildings of hardware cutting enterprises. Famous domestic brands such as "Shibazi" and high-quality leading enterprises such as Jinhui and Meilong Meili gather here. One of the two major time-honored brands in China, "Wang Mazi", has also settled here.

Hardware knives and scissors are traditional advantageous industries in Yangdong and even Yangjiang. However, it cannot be denied that the hardware knife and scissors industry is a completely competitive industry with low entry barriers, mainly composed of small and medium-sized enterprises. Among them, there are over 700 knife and shear enterprises gathered in Yangdong. The head of a member unit of the Yangjiang Hardware Knife and Scissor Association estimates that there are no more than 20 knife and scissor enterprises with a turnover exceeding 100 million yuan. Looking across the country, there is no knife and scissors enterprise with a turnover exceeding 1 billion yuan, even though the listed company Zhang Xiaoquan had sales of only over 800 million yuan in 2022.

There are many small and medium-sized enterprises, with the advantage of abundant vitality, while the weakness is that the industry is difficult to grow and strengthen. Like a catfish, the young Tuobituo is stirring up the traditional Yangdong knife and scissors industry. Seeking incremental growth in overseas markets has explored replicable and referential experiences for the transformation and upgrading of Yangdong Knife and Scissor Enterprises.

Since 2016, traditional advantageous enterprises such as Shibazi have also joined the race of brand building and export. Yangjiang officials have also launched a brand overseas strategy.

Last year, Yangjiang City launched its first regional brand of "Yangjiang Hardware Knives and Scissors". In June of this year, Yangdong District launched the "Yangdong Manufacturing · Deep Integration Bay · Brand Sailing" cross-border e-commerce docking meeting, collaborating with SHINE, Duoduo cross-border TEMO and other cross-border e-commerce partners. According to relevant personnel from the Industry and Information Technology Bureau of Yangdong District, a cross-border e-commerce activity has been launched with the aim of building a communication bridge between the cross-border e-commerce platform and traditional industry and trade enterprises in Yangdong, promoting the transformation and overseas expansion of traditional industry and trade enterprises, and promoting the expansion of "Made in Yangdong" products and brands such as hardware knives and scissors in the international market.

While going out, one must also practice internal skills. In this regard, the government has taken the lead and made many efforts to expand industrial development from raw material research and development to sales channels.

Entering the Zhuhai (Yangjiang) Vientiane Industrial Park, a provincial-level industrial transfer park, numerous knife and shear enterprises gather here. National brands such as "China Vegetable Knife Center", "China Scissor Center", "China Ceramic Knife Center", and "China Knife and Shear Machinery Manufacturing Center" have also been established here. Yangdong District also utilizes the platform strength of Yangjiang Alloy Materials Laboratory and Hardware Knife and Scissor Technology Research Institute to promote the breakthrough of "neck locking" technology.

We have collaborated with Yangjiang Alloy Materials Laboratory to establish a scientific and technological innovation base, and have developed some martensitic stainless steel with properties that meet the import level. "Li Yancheng, Deputy General Manager of the Shibazi Business Department, introduced that with the help of the platform, we have been committed to the research and development of high-end nitrogen containing martensitic stainless steel preliminary processes and heat treatment processes, and have achieved very good results.

At present, we are continuously promoting the construction of a 'high-quality stainless steel cutting tool product and its key technology innovation platform', striving to introduce provincial and municipal funds to assist in industrial upgrading. The above-mentioned staff of the Yangdong District Industry and Information Technology Bureau introduced that in response to the actual situation in Yangdong, they actively build doctoral workstations and help enterprises improve their technical level through flexible talent introduction. The construction quantity ranks second in Yangjiang City, and the manufacturing industry accounts for nearly 80%, Among them, hardware cutting enterprises such as Tuobituo and Jinhui have become direct beneficiaries.

At the 5th Plenary Session of the 8th Yangjiang Municipal Party Committee held on August 24th, Yangjiang clearly established the "4+4" pillar industry, with hardware knives and scissors listed as one of the four billion level industrial clusters for transformation and upgrading. The traditional hardware cutting industry in Yangjiang is seeking new opportunities and creating new value in the new era.

Strugglers say

Liang Qifan, Senior Partner and Deputy General Manager of Tuobituo:

Yangjiang Knife and Scissors have great potential to build global business advantages

Tuobituo started its business in Yangjiang and has been rooted in Yangjiang for a long time. The most crucial thing is to rely on its "geographical advantage". After decades of development, Yangjiang City has built the largest hardware knife and scissors industry cluster in China, which also has a significant global influence. The industry chain is complete, and the products are complete, with thousands of upstream and downstream products. Even compared to other regions in China, such as Solingen in Germany, Guanshi in Japan, and Portland in the United States, Yangjiang still has an irreplaceable position in the future.

It can be confirmed that the hardware knife and shear products exported from Yangjiang City are no different from overseas brands in terms of technology and product strength. Many of the design, development, and manufacturing of hardware knives and scissors around the world rely on China. Compared to products from other countries and regions, China's manufacturing industry has advantages in terms of cost-effectiveness and continuous performance improvement. Now is not only an opportunity for Chinese product exports, but also an opportunity for Chinese brands to export.

At present, the rise of international trade protectionism and unilateralism has greatly affected the hardware knife and scissors industry in Yangdong and even Yangjiang. However, we still insist that the future opportunity for Tuobaitou lies in exports, and going overseas can help the company establish a business advantage globally. Yangdong District and Yangjiang City are also striving to build cross-border trade platforms, strengthen communication and exchange with the world, continuously expand cooperation scale, and empower enterprises to have competitive advantages in foreign cooperation.

In fact, the overall Yangjiang Hardware Knife and Scissor Industry Cluster is export-oriented. After decades of going abroad, it has established huge advantages in products, channels, talents, and other aspects. Foreign markets also need Yangjiang. The brand is going global, continuously promoting the establishment of a global business advantage for the Yangjiang hardware knife and scissors industry brand, and assisting the Yangjiang hardware knife and scissors industry cluster and enterprises to grow and strengthen.




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