Boss of textile leader Luen Thai stresses the importance of pursuing a service-driven philosophy in a fast-changing, competitive world As the recipient of the Owner/Operator Award, Luen Thai International Group executive vice-president Raymond Tan has successfully grown a family company into an international leader in the textile industry. Established by his great grandfather in 1965, Luen Thai originally focused on shipping and trading, diversifying into textiles in 1983. 'My family first established the family business in Saipan, and when we branched out into textiles we found this to be the ideal location for business because of its quota-free and duty-free status' Mr Tan says. 'We concurrently also established our Hong Kong office back in 1965.' Mr Tan says it has been Luen Thai's ability to clearly position itself in areas it wishes to focus on - and to stay focused - that has ensured the company's continued success. Luen Thai is one of the world's largest manufacturers of apparel, and a major supplier of top-selling brands. It owns a large number of manufacturing plants strategically located in the Philippines, China, Cambodia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Mexico. About 23,000 employees with expertise in apparel production, merchandising, customer service, marketing, human resources, accounting and information technology work in these plants and in offices in Asia, Micronesia and America. 'Our business philosophy has resulted in the top 10 or 20 brands coming to us for manufacturing their garments. This is based upon the development of our state-of-the-art IT systems, designed especially for vendors' use.' Mr Tan also believes that customer focus and being a multi-country manufacturer (which reduces risk) have contributed to Luen Thai's success. 'I am in a service-driven business,' he says. 'As such, we must continue to design and develop services we provide our customers, refine our logistics by concentrating on factory-to-store provision of goods, and encourage our customers to move their logistics from country of production to country of origin. 'As a service-driven company supported by manufacturing, we understand that the demand for service-driven manufacturing is large but provision is small. 'Therefore, with our business philosophy, we are currently in the driver's seat. 'Multi-production capability is the service of this industry for the long-term future. We think outside the box.' Mr Tan expands by explaining that in today's world responsible brands also promote human rights compliance in order to guarantee getting their product into the marketplace. 'We observe this philosophy because we believe it is the right thing to do,' he says. 'To do this, however, we needed to develop an internal code to cater for the demands in all countries. 'Happy employees produce good work, which results in happy customers. 'It's a fairly basic and obvious observation, but it is surprising the number of companies that have missed this basic point of good business. 'On the management side, I believe in the development of a competitive culture. 'Our management team is diverse and from many countries, they are expected to work under one culture, and I believe in teamwork and team incentives.' Mr Tan says his management philosophy is 'structure follows process', which should result in a search for the one person to 'own this', who will then help develop a team spirit in relation to the product. For young people contemplating entering the manufacturing industry, Mr Tan has a simple message. 'Plot your career path and growth,' he says. 'Be dedicated to your own personal and professional growth, identify the core strengths within yourself, and you will be a great asset for whatever field of business you decide to pursue.'