From New Immigrant to Nobel Laureate: A Hong Kong Tale of Perseverance and Triumph
Located at Tin Wan, Come In Enterprises’ office looks clean and modest, just like the owners of the company. Began with wholesale business trading Southeast Asian food, the company now set up its production lines and sell few hundred product types under its own brands, supplying for more than 1,800 corporate clients including supermarkets, department stores, hotels, restaurants, etc. Committed to high standard and integrity, it has been one of builders for Hong Kong’s reputation in product quality and trust.
“Our crispy prawn chili sauce is one of the most famous products, many customers prefer our brand than the others. A company tried to imitate the sauce by sourcing from Malaysia, but they failed to replicate the flavour because of cost and other concerns.” Chan Kam Sang, Founder and Chairman, and Chan Yau Li, Managing Director of Come In Enterprises shared the story of a family starting and sustaining a business for decades, echoing a generation of Hong Kong people who strived and achieved success.
Pushing Limits for Excellence
Came from Xiamen to Hong Kong alone, Chan Kam Sang was being looked down for his language proficiency and identity as new immigrant. Labor works became his only option to survive in the city. Despite so, Chan kept upgrading himself with determination and passion, for example, in a Chinese New Year, he spent all his savings to buy a typewriter and learnt to type in just a few days on his own. He also took initiative to study English in the British Council. Seeing his wife working multiple shifts to make ends meet, he decided to establish Come In company and ventured for a better future.
“Lack of capital at the time we started, we could only rent a 100-ft-sq-area at the back of a store from my friend. I worked as a salesperson and delivered goods by tram or bus in the daytime, and learnt how to drive and attended school at night. Life was tough back then, but it was fruitful.” The story of Chan Kam Sang not only is filled with blood and sweat, it is also a legacy about pursuit for quality.
Quality Always Comes First
Acting as an agent for oversea brands since 1988, Come In registered Homei brand in 2002. Eight major product lines have been developed since, including sauce, seasoning, breakfast, grocery, frozen food, etc.
“Sarawak state in Malaysia is rich in pepper. The local factories usually grind peppercorns into pepper powder with iron sheets, causing metal particles left in the spice. After we import the products, we need to check for metal substance, conduct processing and packaging to ensure strictest quality.” A media report once called out the pepper sold in Hong Kong carried different degree of contaminant. In response, Come In showed certifications from testing lab to clear its name and the media made public clarification immediately.
Awarded with ISO22000 and HACCP qualifications, the company’s own production plant in Hong Kong exudes quality. “Southeast Asian delicacies are now widely accepted by Hong Kong people, our crispy squid and seaweed spicy sauce have become hot items. We further created ‘low-sugar’ kaya spread last year to meet the local demands for healthy food. The product actually falls into the ‘No Sugar’ category set out by the Center of Food Safety (i.e. no more than 0.5g sugar per 100g food), but we are imposing stricter standards to safeguard the health of our customers.” Its solid pledge to food quality is what drives the restaurant groups like Maxim’s and Super Super Congee & Noodle, as well as 5-stars hotels to use Come In products for years. It also helps them score the “Consumer Caring Company” title, endorsing their excellence in customer service.
Embracing Innovation in the Digital Era
Come In started to digitalise company operations in 1995, and used barcodes and ezTRADE platform of GS1 HK since 2002. Chan Yau Li said the platform is magnificent.
Using the transaction data stored on the platform, GS1 HK partners with banks to offer trade finance service in recent months, hoping to streamline the trade finance application and assessment process. Chan Yau Li believes the service can make SMEs’ loan application easier, and he hopes more financial institutions will join to drive down the financing cost.
Aimed to boost brand awareness by taking part in different expos and opening e-shop, Chan Yau Li acknowledged the next generation barcode – Smart Barcode – can help improve online product searchability and reach potential customers to drive sales.
Established Reputation Across the World
Available in Mainland China, Australia, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and many other markets, the brand sets a great example that conveys Hong Kong values – credibility, value-for-money and trust to the world. Recognising his leadership and outstanding contributions to the economy and society, Chan Kam Sang received the Nobel Laureates Honorary Fellowship & Award - Asian Chinese Leadership Award in 2018.
As the COVID-19 rages on, B2B businesses like Hong Kong Jockey Club and F&B outlets saw a sharp fall. Fortunately, it was offset by the growth in sales from retail sectors, like Wellcome, PARKnSHOP, Yata and other online stores. “For more than 30 years in Hong Kong, we have seen ups and downs; the situation is tough now, but we see hope in the market as different scale of businesses, both online and offline, are flourishing. No matter what, clients and quality are our most valued assets, and we are committed to our legacy by investing in innovative technology and diversifying our products to sustain Come In and reputation of Hong Kong brands.