Cardboard Millionaires: Pioneers of the HK Corrugated Paper Products Industry

York Lo: Cardboard Millionaires: Pioneers of the HK Corrugated Paper Products Industry

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Group picture at the 1st anniversary of the HKCPMA in 1965. Left to right:supervisor Chen Kim-cheong, honorary president Fung Kam-chung, president Choi Chik-leung, vice president Wong Kam-yuen

The corrugated paper products industry in HK was founded in the 1950s by a group of enterprising industrialists who saw an opportunity for corrugated cardboard as packaging materials for the rapidly growing industries in HK and together they formed the HK Corrugated Paper Manufacturers Association(瓦通紙業廠商會) in 1965 with Cheng Kit-kamof Atlantic as president, Choi Chik-leung of Unionas chairman, Chan Kim-cheong of HK Paper Products as supervisor, NgiamHoo-pang of Him Wo as secretary, Wong Kam-yuen(黃金源) as vice president, Chan King-cheung of Kowloon and P.M. Loh of Lohson as founding directors and Fung Kam-chung(馮錦聰) of Chee San & Co, a leading importer of paper which is the primary raw material for corrugated paper products as honorary president. The inauguration ceremony at the Golden Crown restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui featured a speech by Sir S.N. Chau, the chairman of the Federation of HK Industries who was highly supportive of the group. (WKYP, 1965-9-30) Below are the profiles of 7 of the 12 founding firms of the Association:

Atlantic Paper Products (大西洋紙業廠)

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Mr & Mrs. Cheng Kit-kam (center) at Kai Tak Airport with family and friends before heading back to the Philippines in December 1961. (WKYP, 1961-12-17)

Atlantic Paper Products was incorporated in 1960 by Filipino Chinese industrialist Cheng Kit-kam (莊材賜, also known as Cheng Tsai-chi). A native of Fukien, Cheng and his brother Cheng Tsai-jun (莊材潤) co-founded La Perla Cigar & Cigarette Factory in Manila and later Kit-kam acquired some of La Perla’s brands and formed Associated Anglo-American Tobacco Corporation in 1965. Both brothers had extensive investments in HK, Tsai-jun having owned the Sunning Guest House and Embassy Court in Causeway Bay before his death in 1957 and later his son Johnny Cheng (莊清泉,1926-1989) was the controlling shareholder of Hang Lung Bank before its collapse while Kit-kam established Atlantic Paper Products and became the president of HKCPMA even though he was only a part time resident of HK. In 1961, Kit-kamand his wife made headlines in HK when they donated a total of HK$25000 to four leading Chinese charities in town – Tung Wah, Po Leung Kuk (which his nephew Eng-kwan would chair in the 1970s), Pok Oi Hospital and Chung Sing Benevolent Society. The same year,the couple visited Taiwan where they met with Madam Chiang Kai-shek and Yu Youren. (Overseas Chinese Monthly, 1961) As Cheng spent most of his time in the Philippines, Atlantic was managed by his lieutenants Y.S. Shih (施映山) and W.L. Siu (蕭維隆).

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Left: Ad for Atlantic Paper Products’ Kong Sheng Factory Building in 1964 (WKYP, 1964-9-23); Right: Mrs. Cheng Kit-kam (left) presenting a check for $10000 to Po Leung Kuk chairman Lam Man-kit (partner of Dickson Yeung at Dickson & Co, see article). (WKYP, 1961-9-30)

The original plant for Atlantic was located at 5 Mok Cheung Street in To Kwa Wan while its offices was located at Room 1009 in TakShing House in Central. In 1964, Atlantic ordered several dozen new machines and hired several dozen experts as part of its expansion. It also began construction of a new industrial building at Kwai Chung Lot 291 with 15 feet tall floors and several 5000 lbs elevators. (TKP, 1964-10-20) The building later opened as Kong Sheng Factory Building (恭誠工業大廈) at 75 Wo Yi Hop Road in Kwai Chung.

Kit-kam’s sons Paulo andPeter Cheng both stayed in HK. Paulo was executive director of Atlantic from 1960 to 1962 but left the management of Atlantic to Peter to focus on investments throughPaulon International Limited (寶隆國際, incorporated in 1973, dissolved in 2003),Winning Enterprises (永寧企業, incorporated in 1955 and renamed Max Hon Knight in 1979) and Winning-Atlantic (永寧大西洋, incorporated in 1973 and dissolved in 1997). He also started the stock brokerage Paulo Cheng & Co in 1973 and served as committee member of the HK Stock Exchange and vice chairman of the HK Stockbrokers Association. (Who’s Who in HK, 1984)

In 1977, the Cheng family re-developed Atlantic’s original plant at 5 Mok Cheung Street into K.K. Industrial Building (金賜工業大廈), named in honor of Cheng Kit-kam.

In 2018, Max Hon Knight Properties (滿恒利地產) applied to re-develop KK Industrial Building into a 30-story commercial and residential complex. Around the same time, Max Hon Knight manager Wong Cheung-kong(黃長江) helped to establish the Cheng Kit-kam Scholarships at Cheng’s hometown of Quanzhou in Fujian province.

Union Corrugated Paper Products (聯合紙器廠)

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Choi Chik-leung (left) receiving a silver plate from Wong Kam-yuen on his election to the board of Tung Wah Group of Hospitals in 1968 (KSDN, 1968-5-8) 

Union Corrugated Paper Products was founded by ChoiChik-leung (蔡植良), a native of Fa Yuen in Guangdong province. Born in 1921,he was elected to the board of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals in 1968. The firm operated out of 20 Hing Yip Street in Kwun Tong in the 1960s. (AA Far East Businessman Directory, 1969; XianggangNianjian, 1966; HK Industry & Commerce Yearbook, 1963)

In 1965, Choi together with Fung Kam-chung of Chee San & Co visited Hokkaido at the invitation of Japanese paper manufacturer Honshu Seishi and visited other paper mills while they were in Japan. (WKYP, 1965-9-13)

As a firm, Union was incorporated in 1964 and dissolved in 1990.

Hong Kong Paper Products Factory (香港紙品廠)

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Left: Chan Kim Cheong (KSEN, 1968-8-13); Right: Wedding picture of Chen Man-lung in 1960 (WKYP, 1960-12-7)

Incorporated in 1955, HK Paper Products Factory was the first corrugated paper factory in Hong Kong, founded by Chan Kim-cheong (陳金昌), a native of Pudong in Shanghai. He was also an executive director of Wing Lee Glass Industry, which he co-founded in 1957 with fellow Shanghainese industrialist Siao Sam-ping (see article on players in glass industry).

Outside of business, Chan was very active in community affairs and served as director of the Kiangsu Chekiang Residents Association, Kuang Hwa Athletic Association, Lok Sin Tong, Sham Shui Po Kaifong Welfare Association and Shau Kei Wan Fisherman School. In 1955, he and his wife celebrated their 50th birthday at the Bankers Club on the 11th floor of the Bank of East Asia Building and the birthday party was attended by many Shanghainese industrialists covered earlier such as John Tung, Z.M. Chen, Chow Yuk-ho, Koo Ling-ching, J.S. Chia, Godfrey Yeh, Fu Leung-chun and Chieng Han-chow. (WKYP, 1955-2-27)

In August 1968, Chan died at the St Teresa Hospital in Kowloon at the age of 65. He was survived by his wife S.C. Huang, three sons (Man-hing, Man-lungMan-tung) and daughter (Man-kuen) and was succeeded at HK Paper Products by his son Chen Man-lung (陳文龍). HK Paper Products Factory operated out of 80 Larch Street in Tai KokTsui. (Business Directory of HK, 1977)

As a firm, HK Paper Products Factory Ltd was dissolved in 2004.

Him Wo Paper Products (謙和紙品廠)

Him Wo Paper Products Factory was founded by Ngiam Hoo-pang (嚴祜邦, 1924-2014) who was better known by his Buddhist name of Ngiam Hoon-hoo(嚴寬祜). Born in Swatow, Ngiam came to HK after graduation from high school with nothing and established the trading firm of Lee San Hong (利生行, incorporated in 1965, dissolved in 1979). In 1955, he fell in love with Kim Chui (崔常敏, also known as Chui Sau-king), who was working for the family business of her sister Chui Sau-ying (崔秀英)’s husband.  Sau-ying’s brother in law John Cheung (張玉良, later largest shareholder of Wheelock Marden and one of the biggest landlords in Causeway Bay) allegedly looked down on Ngiam and was against the marriageso Kim left the business to marry Ngiam and together they built up Lee San Hong and Him Wo. By 1970, Him Wo had its own 9-story factory building at 26 Lee Chung Street in Chai Wan and a branch factory at 196 Wai Yip Street in Kwun Tong. (Xianggang Shikuang, 1970)

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Left: Ngiam Hoo-pang and his wife Kim Chui; Right: Ngiam Hoo-pang (right) with Hsing Yun, the founder of FoGuang Shan.

A devout Buddhist since the age of 16, Ngiam through Him Wo purchased many Buddhist texts in Shanghai and Canton during the Cultural Revolution in order to salvage them. He sold 9700 volumes to the Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions in the US in 1974 which became known as the NgiamHoo-pang Collection of Buddhist Texts. In 1975, Ngiamdecided to close all his businesses in Hong Kong (Him Wo was dissolved in 1989) and moved with his wife and son Ronald S.Y. Ngiam (嚴崇恩) to Houston, Texas to devote full time to Buddhist causes.In 1979, he formed the Texas Buddhist Association (德州佛教會) and over time built many Buddhist schools, youth centers and temples throughout the world. When the Buddha’s Light International (國際佛光會世界總會) was formed by the influential Buddhist monkHsing Yun in 1992, Ngiam was elected its vice chairman and the same year, he established a foundation in Taiwan to support Buddhist organizations and charities. In 1997, Ngiam established the Fu Hui Charity Foundation (福慧慈善基金會) in HK which has sponsored several hundred schools since its inception.

Kowloon Paper Products Factory (九龍紙品廠)

Kowloon Paper Products Factory was founded by Chan King-cheung (陳敬章), who was a native of Chiuchow. The firm operated out of 37 Lam Tin Street in Kwai Chung (Directory of HK Industries, 1991)

In 1979, Chan spoke to the press about the state of the corrugated paper products industry in HK which was struggling as cost of raw materials rose by 40-50% while end products’ prices only went up by 15-20% as the industry remained competitive and as a result, most of the factories were only 70% utilized. (WKYP, 1979-5-18)

As a firm, Kowloon Paper Products was incorporated in 1967 and dissolved in 2003.

Lohson Industrial (樂生實業)

Lohson Industrial was incorporated in 1964 by Pai-MeiLoh (樂伯美, hereafter refer to as “P.M.”)and operated out of 170 Wai Yip Street in Kwun Tong.A native of Zhenhai in Ningbo, Loh was born in 1927 and graduated from the Li Hsin School of Accounting in Shanghai. Other directors of Lohson Industrial in the 1960s included his relatives P.C. Loh and C.M. Loh. (HK $ Directory, 1968)

Affiliates of Lohson Industrial included Lohson Paper Products (樂生紙品廠, incorporated in 1967 and dissolved in 1981), Lohson Plastic Products (樂生塑膠廠,incorporated in 1964 and dissolved in 1970), Lohson Trading and Pan Africa Investment Co.

In 1967, P.M. Loh became chairman of HKCPMA and held a banquet at the King Wah restaurant for the industry. At the time he was keen to recruit more members to the Association and was planning to establish group buying to help drive down the cost of raw materials. (WKYP, 1967-12-11) In 1968, P.M. Loh took his son Hogan Loh(樂可均) back to Europe from HK to further his studies and then went on a business trip in Europe and West Africa. (WKYP, 1968-9-7)

By the 1980s, Lohson had moved to Ko Fai Industrial Building at 7 Ko Fai Street in Yau Tong (Directory of HK Industries, 1985)In 1983, Lohson formed Interfor (怡得富國際), a paper trading joint venture in HK with Anfor, which was jointly owned by the Australian packaging giant Amcor and the New Zealand timber giant NZFP. Building on the success of Infor, Lohson formed Interpac Containers (國際容器) in 1986 to make corrugated fiber box in partnership with Anfor controlling two-third and Lohson holding the remaining one-third. (Forest Industries, 1986)Interpac initially operated out of the Tai Po Industrial Estate but later invested A$18 million to open a factory in Dongguan in 1993. (Business China, 1993)

As a firm, Lohson Industrial wasdissolved in 1988 but the business continues under Lohson International Holdings and Lohson Packaging Holdings which were incorporated in 1981 and 1995 respectively.

P.M. Loh was succeeded at Lohson and Interfor by his son Hogan. Outside of business, Hogan is an aviator who has served as president of the HK Aviation Club and vice chairman of the HK Air Cadet Corps.

Shum Kee Paper & Carton Factory (新奇紙品廠)

Although the firm was incorporated in 1967, Shum Kee was foundedearlier by Law Shu-hin (羅樹顯), who was probably the youngest of the 12 founding directors of the HKCPMA. Law is a native of Zhongshan in Guangdong province and a graduate from Pui Ching Middle School in 1955.

The firm had its own factory building at 43-47 Wang Lung Street in Tsuen Wan by the early 1990s and in recent years had relocated its production to Dongguan.

Sources (other than those cited above):

This article was first posted on 12th April 2021.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Dickson and Hopson: the Tales of Two Handbag Companies
  2. Notable Players in the history of the HK Glass & Mirror Industry

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