Crown­ing glory

China Daily (Canada) - - HONG KONG - By SO­PHIE HE in Hong Kong so­phiehe@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

James Thompson, founder and chair­man of global mov­ing ser­vice Crown World­wide Group, had just $1,000 in the bank when he set up his small of­fice five decades ago in Yoko­hama, Ja­pan.

By 1970, Trans­port Ser­vices In­ter­na­tional, as the com­pany was called then, had ex­panded into Hong Kong, rid­ing on its ded­i­ca­tion to pro­vid­ing qual­ity ser­vice.

That was soon fol­lowed by for­ays into Sin­ga­pore, In­done­sia, Malaysia and other Asia-Pa­cific lo­ca­tions, and in 1975, the com­pany was re­named as Crown Pa­cific. The com­pany cur­rently op­er­ates in some 60 coun­tries and re­gions and has ex­panded to be­come the world’s largest pri­vately held group of in­ter­na­tional lo­gis­tics and re­lated ser­vices com­pa­nies, ac­cord­ing to Thompson.

The cur­rent com­pany name of Crown World­wide Group aims to re­flect that global scope.

“Cus­tomers like to have a global part­ner to work with, in some places we have done ex­tremely well and some places not so well. Dur­ing the last three or four years, we shut down some small of­fices in Africa, as we saw no im­me­di­ate fu­ture. We may go back later,” he said.

In Hong Kong, Crown World­wide Group has five dif­fer­ent busi­nesses, Thompson told China Daily, but the first one is “mov­ing and re­lo­ca­tion”.

“We help fam­i­lies re­lo­cate to Hong Kong from some­place else in the world or from Hong Kong to other places,” he said.

He added that phys­i­cal pack­ing is one thing, but many for­eign com­pa­nies when they send em­ploy­ees to Hong Kong need a lot of other ser­vices, in­clud­ing find­ing homes, get­ting the ex­pats’ chil­dren to school, and even help­ing ex­pats learn about the cul­tural dif­fer­ences.

“(That is) be­cause com­pa­nies be­lieve that if we can train or as­sist these peo­ple, they will get set­tled quickly and do their busi­ness sooner.”

Another ser­vice it pro­vides is “records man­age­ment or doc­u­ment stor­age”, said Thompson, ex­plain­ing that most busi­nesses — es­pe­cially banks, law firms and ac­count­ing firms — have many doc­u­ments and pa­pers that they must re­tain by law.

Be­cause of­fice rents in Hong Kong are so high, they do not want to keep these piles of doc­u­ments in their of­fices.

So Crown set up a ser­vice to store such doc­u­ments in out­side fa­cil­i­ties, and re­trieve them when cus­tomers want.

“It has be­come very big busi­ness for us in Hong Kong. Very prof­itable,” said Thompson.

Crown World­wide Group is also into lo­gis­tics, Thompson said, but spe­cial­izes mainly in high­fash­ion goods, well-known la­bels, dresses and men’s cloth­ing — “Dun­hill (and) those kinds of com­pa­nies,” he said.

“So the goods come to our ware­houses, we hang them up, we check for qual­ity, we put on price tags, and then when we are given the or­der, we de­liver them to shops in Cen­tral or wher­ever.”

In keep­ing with its quest for diver­si­fi­ca­tion, Crown en­tered the wine cel­lars busi­ness in Hong Kong in 2002.

It also owns four prop­er­ties in the city, in Sha Tin and Yuen Long, for use as busi­ness and stor­age fa­cil­i­ties.

PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY

Strik­ing out on his own in 1965 with just $1,000 in the bank, David Thompson now heads a global firm with busi­ness rang­ing from re­lo­ca­tion and doc­u­ment stor­age to wine cel­lars.

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