Meet Yeung Kin-man, the global king of touchscreens

September 12, 2015 08:03
Yeung Kin-man, the founder and chief executive of Biel Crystal, recently donated HK$200 million to City University of Hong Kong. Photo: HKEJ

You may not have heard of Hong Kong entrepreneur Yeung Kin-man, but you are certainly familiar with his products.

The glass that make up your smartphone screen was most likely manufactured by Yeung’s company. 

Yeung, the founder and chief executive of Biel Crystal (HK) Manufactory Limited, employs more than 110,000 workers at his factories in Shenzhen and Huizhou, where roughly one-third of all the screens used for mobile devices are produced.

Apple, Samsung, Sony, Xiaomi and Huawei are all his clients.

In the ’70s, Yeung imported machines from Japan for making glasses for watches. In order to secure funds for new machines, his company also had to process low-cost watches.

Eventually, he was able to secure orders from European luxury watchmakers, and today about a third of the 30 million units of glasses on European watches come from Yeung’s factories.

Soon it occurred to this entrepreneur that the screens of cellphones need not be made of plastic, and so he started exploring the possibility of using glasses for the screens of mobile devices.

In 2003 Motorola place an order for one million units of glasses for its Razr mobile phone series. Biel Crystal was only producing several thousand pieces of watch glass every month at the time.

“I was at a crossroads. I would secure half of my total business sales with just one order. However, if it's just a one-off thing, all my newly purchased machines would be useless after that,” Yeung recalls.

He took the challenge. After the delivery of the first one million units of glasses, the orders kept coming until he was able to produce 100 million units for Motorola.

Since then, most technology giants have been placing their orders for touchscreen glasses with Yeung's Biel Crystal.

In 2007 his company started supplying glasses for Apple products, consolidating his position as “King of touchscreens” at the global level.

Yeung believes he can't rest on his laurels. In order to remain at the cutting edge of technology, his company allocates about 5 percent of total sales for research and development.

“To innovate is not to stand still in the current trend," says Yeung. "We always try to create something new. For instance, fingerprints often get caught all over the touchscreen. That’s why we invented a technology that is fingerprint-proof. To enhance scratch resistance, we developed sapphire glass.”

In managing such a huge manufacturing empire, Yeung considers taking care of the emotional wellbeing of his staffers as the most challenging.

That's because most of his workers and managers are away from home for long stretches of time; taking care of their emotional and psychological needs is crucial to the success of his business.

Yeung regularly attends management courses in order to acquire business insights and effective strategies.

Although he spends a great deal of time in his mainland factories, the Hong Kong-born entrepreneur never forgets his roots. He always thinks of how he can contribute to Hong Kong's development.

Just recently he donated HK$200 million to City University of Hong Kong (CityU), of which half will be used to establish a School of Veterinary Medicine.

“More and more diseases are being transmitted from animals to humans, such as avian flu and swine flu. It is necessary for Hong Kong to train up local specialists in this regard,” says Yeung.

Yeung’s donation will also support overseas exchanges for CityU students. He believes cultural experiences can benefit youngsters and inspire them to bring about innovations.

Yeung believes that success comes from hard work. 

“Be flexible and learn from the lessons of adversities. If everything goes smoothly, there's nothing you can learn and hope for. But since life is full of problems and puzzles, you will strive hard to come up with solutions. That’s how you derive a sense of satisfaction.”

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 8.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version中文版]

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Yeung wears coveralls during inspection of his factory in Huizhou. Photo: HKEJ
Professor Kuo Way, president of CityU, finds Yeung a diligent and down-to-earth person. Photo: HKEJ
Yeung says he fell in love with his wife at first sight. As a young man, Yeung developed a passion for fishing. Photo: HKEJ

Hong Kong Economic Journal