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The Fong Dynasty

June 1999
Tony Fong, a Chinese immigrant, is a self-made businessman. Starting with nothing, Fong has built a network of businesses that today comprise several commercial printing plants, an international distribution company and the prepress manufacturer Optronics. As the year 2000 approaches, Fong has but one intention for his dynasty: growth.


PEOPLE FORTUNATE enough to know him consider him an extremely honorable person, one who works business deals that are fair to all parties. He is intensely loyal to his employees and business partners, and has been known to say he would give his last piece of bread for his people.

No doubt that Chinese-born Tony Fong is a man of varied professional interests, yet simplistic goals: Deliver quality goods and services; treat all people, regardless of corporate stature, with dignity and respect; and, above all else, always be human.

Recently, Printing Impressions was fortunate enough to catch up with the Fong Brothers Group chairman while he was between trips to Europe and Asia. Seizing the opportunity to learn more about what makes him tick, PI asked Fong to contemplate the impact consolidation may have on his various professional interests and his thoughts on the acquisition of Optronics, as well as the industry direction of everything from paper prices to distribution channels to the rise of the Internet.

PI: How has the much-noted rise of industry consolidation of printing services affected your businesses?

Fong: We are very fortunate. Consolidation has not affected Fong Brothers Printing, because we focus on servicing our customers and providing fast turnaround times. For our customers, service is the determining factor and, within reason, price is not quite so critical.

With all of the venture money available from investors, it's not surprising that it has attracted a good deal of attention from printing executives. That doesn't mean it's either good or bad for the industry, but Fong Brothers has decided not to take the merger path. Instead, we are determined to invest in the printing equipment our customers require from us to serve them in the best possible manner. When the customer identifies a need, we're willing to invest in the necessary technology. Generally, I believe consolidation hurts the smaller printers. It's difficult for them to invest in new, emerging technologies, such as computer-to-plate and asset management.

We've seen the requirements of customer service shift dramatically recently. Our clients expect us to perform every facet of the work flow, from beginning to end. We receive files that are delivered to our Web server, preflight them, modify them if necessary, send proofs and print. We've even taken the role of shipper, distributing the final product. And now, we provide asset management—storing and maintaining files on our servers—so customers can access them and change them for future jobs.

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