The Gear Knob Factory

China

Employees: 1100

Established: 1985

Product: Gear Knobs

 Gear Knobs
 

Behind the Product

The Gear Knob Factory

Our first visit to this factory was two years ago on our first trip to China. It changed the way we viewed manufacturing in this country. We count ourselves lucky to have found a factory that makes beautiful products in a beautiful place, and an owner who understands the value of treating employees well.

The first thing you notice when arriving here are the palm trees—which the owner spent a small fortune to import. He believes that, among other things, creating an enjoyable working environment is key to employee retention. And in an industry that sees operators come and go after a few months, he told us that the 1100 workers at this facility stay for an average of 4 years each.

How We Found It

We began producing our gear knobs before we launched our first bulkheads in November 2011. To find a factory, we worked closely with a consultant who had manufactured around the world. She introduced us directly to Mr. Hong, the owner of this factory, and ensured us he was the best man for the job. The problem? He didn’t respond to any of our requests.

It wasn’t until a few short email exchanges and a flight over to his factory that we became friends. We learned that his smallest client was 100 times our size. Yet, for reasons still not fully clear to us, he decided to take a chance on us. 

The Material

Our first foray into the gear knob used a cotton canvas with a slightly waxed finish. Later, on a trip to China, we stumbled upon a beautiful reverse denim twill we thought could be made into a beautiful bag. It later became our Reverse Denim accessories collection.

For 2014 we wanted to expand the Reverse Denim in multiple colorways. We spent months developing a superior water-resistant cotton twill with minimal crocking, ”crocking” being what occurs when dye rubs off onto your skin or onto another fabric. After multiple rounds of testing, we landed on a cotton will that held its color amazingly well, even when damp. We use it in our current Weekenders, Snap Backpacks, Zip Totes, and Dopp Kits.

About the Owner

An accomplished entrepreneur, JS Hong built his business single-handedly in 1982. Though we’re his smallest client by a huge margin, he flies down from Korea to meet us at his factories when we visit. On our most recent trip, he spent two full days with us in product meetings, detailed factory tours, and meals with plenty of sake. Today, we consider Hong a friend and trusted advisor.

 

 

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Opening Hours

Monday to Friday

9.00 am - 1.00 pm

2.00 pm - 5.00 pm

GMT and BST

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