ASM Group's view truly global

ASIAN Sources Media (ASM) Group, the winner of this year's International Award, can truly claim to be a global organisation.

Founded 21 years ago by chairman Merle Hinrichs, the group began with just one general export magazine, titled Asian Sources . It had a staff of 10 in Hong Kong and a further 15 spread across the region.

The company is now Asia's largest trade publisher, employing more than 1,300 people in 29 countries, producing 29 publications in seven languages, and reaching more than 500,000 readers in 165 countries.

The cover of the first edition of Asian Sources had no flashy eye-catching picture but instead carried a copy of the company's mission statement.

It read in part: ''We believe that the cause for world peace through freedom from want is advanced by the establishment of long-lasting and mutually beneficial trade relations between private businessmen in the East and the West.

''We are firm enough in this conviction to speak out as we see fit against those elements we judge harmful to these relationships and to this cause, no matter what their association with this magazine.


''Among the already identifiable targets for admonition are protectionism and other restrictions on free market competition, self-serving bureaucracies and opportunistic or tunnel-visioned businessmen.'' Mr Hinrichs said: ''I honestly feel that the prosperity and success of many leading businessmen in Asia has gone hand in glove with the development and enterprise of the ASM Group.'' However, the group is not solely concentrated on Asia. Its magazine Computer Sources Europe is the biggest computer reseller magazine in Europe with a distribution network stretching from the Urals to the Atlantic.

Because of the group's commitment to helping businesses in the global market, its publications are now the selected medium for more than 8,500 advertisers.

Last year trade inquiries channelled through to advertisers reached 1.8 million through the group's multi-language global computer network.

The group now has 14 monthly publications covering such diverse subjects as computers, timepieces, gift and home products, electronic components and fashion accessories.


Together these publications have a page volume of 7,090 per month, up from 3,260 just five years.

This has resulted in an increase in turnover of 154 per cent over the same period.


Since 1988 a total of 38 books has also been produced, covering such titles as Importing from Mauritius , Exporting to Mexico , Business Opportunities in Russia and Tips for the Business Traveller in Asia .

In the same period, offices have been opened in Belgium, Brazil, China, Dubai, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Britain and Vietnam, joining existing ASM officesin Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and the US.

Speaking of the award, Mr Hinrichs said: ''I hope it will encourage others like me to be proud of Hong Kong.


''For me to receive this award is a great joy to me. Following the success of HSBC last year in this award, it is a great honour for a one-man enterprise.'' As for the future, the company, like the rest of Asia, is looking towards China.

ASM head of corporate communications Sheila Gibbs said: ''There has been a subtle shift in China's industrial emphasis.

''Increasingly, Chinese manufacturers are purchasing components from elsewhere rather than making everything themselves. As a result the group believes there is a huge potential for their publications on the mainland.'' However, the company will be going ahead without its founder. Mr Hinrichs is stepping down from the day-to-day management of his company.


Instead he will oversee his global empire from the comfort of his yacht, while sailing around the world.

Nevertheless, the company is being well prepared for his departure. Mr Hinrichs is preparing his managers for the task of running the company and has already picked his successor, Sarah Benecke.

Therefore it is hardly surprising the company won this year's Hong Kong Management Association Award for Excellence in Training. The subject of its presentation was the passing of control from an entrepreneurial founder to professional managers.