Lin’s (Kwong Ming) Enterprises (連氏光明) and Kwong Ming Knitting Factory
York Lo: Lin’s (Kwong Ming) Enterprises (連氏光明) and Kwong Ming Knitting Factory
Picture and obituary of family patriarch Lin Yan-yee (WKYP, 1978-6-19); Right: Lin Siu-man (WKYP, 1982-9-1)
The Lin family came from Chaoyang in Chiuchow and has been a notable player in the knitwear, garment, handbag and shoe industry in HK for over half a century through their Lin’s (Kwong Ming) Enterprises and Kwong Ming Knitting Factory.
Lin’s (Kwong Ming), which was founded in 1965 and incorporated in 1974, manufactures jackets, raincoats, handbags and leather shoes and has operated out of the 4th floor of the Chuan Yuan Factory Building at 342-344 Kwun Tong Road in Kwun Tong for many years. (Tradeeasy)
Kwong Ming Knitting Factory (光明織造廠) was established in 1970 in San Po Kong to manufacture woolen knitwear for exports although as a firm it was not incorporated until October 1971. Within a few years, the firm successfully opened the European market and won large contract from the German mail order catalog (the world’s largest at one time) Otto in 1974. (WKYP, 1977-1-13)
The patriarch of the family was Lin Yan-yee (連仁義). Not much info is available about Lin Yan-yee but after he died at the Baptist Hospital in Kowloon in June 1978 at the age of 87 (three years might have been added based on Chinese customs), fellow Chiuchow clansman and prominent Singaporean banker Lien Ying-chow (連瀛洲, 1906-2004), founder of OUB in Singapore, was listed as a god nephew in his obituary, highlighting his status.
Lin Yan-yee was survived by his wife Chiu Suk-ching, 5 sons (his third son Tik-chui predeceased him) and 1 daughter. The eldest son Lin Siu-man (連紹文) ran Kwong Ming Knitting Factory and served on the board of the HK Knitwear Manufacturers Association. The second son Lin Siu-hung (連紹雄) aka Liu Tik-kin (連迪堅, 1926-1988) ran Kwong Ming Trading in New York. The fourth son Lin Tik-chiu (連迪昭) practiced medicine in New York and served as president of the New York Chiuchow Association in 1989-91. The fifth son is Lin Kin-hung (連建雄) while the youngest son Lin Kin-ping (連建平) who was born in 1944 was chairman and managing director of Lin’s Kwong Ming and director of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals in 1977 (WKYP, 1977-4-1). Kin-ping died sometime in the 1980s and was succeeded at Lin’s (Kwong Ming) by his wife Siu Yuk-lai (蕭玉麗). (WKYP, 1978-6-19)
By 1977, Lin Siu-man had expressed to the press that the cost of production in HK had already exceeded that of the Philippines by 3%, making it a difficult environment for knitwear manufacturers like Kwong Ming despite strong orders from Western Europe. (WKYP, 1977-1-13)
To production costs, the Lins like many other HK manufacturers looked north after China opened to the outside world in 1978. In October 1985, Lin’s (Kwong Ming) through its subsidiary Kin Lai Industry Ltd (建麗貿易, named after Lin Kin-ping and his wife Siu Yuk-lai; incorporated in 1980, dissolved in 2006) formed a 50/50 joint venture with Dongdan Leather Shoe Factory (東單皮鞋廠) of Beijing with investments of $350,000. The joint venture commenced operations in 1986 with 120 workers and conveyer lines with modernized Italian shoe making machines. Its initial annual production of 200,000 to 300,000 shoes and was renamed Dong Lin Enterprises Ltd (東連企業) in August 1987.
Over time, Lin’s (Kwong Ming) moved most of its manufacturing to Dongguan in Guangdong province where it had invested $30 million into building the Kwong Ming Garment Factory and Kwong Ming Shoe Factory. In 2002, Lin’s (Kwong Ming) through its subsidiary Linex Property Development (嘉連物業發展, incorporated as Linex Ltd in 1994, renamed in 1997 and 2001, dissolved in 2014) which had previously invested in properties in Guangzhou, Canada and Australia, developed the Jiaduolishan Garden (嘉多利山花園) in Zhangmutou in Dongguan (東莞樟木頭), one of the largest residential development projects in the area. The $200 million project on the 515,400 sq ft site include 450 units rolled out over three phases. Because of the firm’s large investments in the area, Lin’s (Kwong Ming)’s managing director Stephen Lin Hon-sum (連漢森, son of Lin Kin-ping) serves as the chairman of the Foreign Manufacturers Association in Dongguan and member of the local CPPCC. Kwong Ming Knitting Factory operates out of Wong King Industrial Building in San Po Kong and is currently managed by Liu Siu-man’s son Raymond Lin Hin-ying (連顯瀛).
Sources (other than those cited above):
This article was first posted on 12th June 2020.
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