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[Invest Seoul CEO Interview] Kim Dong-sun, CEO of CRESLITE Inc

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Name Invest Seoul Date20-01-14 18:55

[Invest Seoul CEO Interview] Kim Dong-sun, CEO of CRESLITE Inc

1. Please give us a brief introduction – tell us who you are, what you do, and about your company.
My name is Dong-sun Kim, and I am the CEO of CRESLITE Inc. Our company exports 650 types of industrial lamps to North and South America. To help you understand what those lamps are, if you are looking at the back of a truck, there’s a brake light, turn signal, and the taillight, which is the one that lights up when the truck is reversing. On the front, there are the headlights. And on the inside, there’s the dome light. And then there are work lights, emergency lights, pedestal lamps … you name it. We produce all of those.

2. How was CRESLITE founded?
We got to know our American partner, Panor, in 2000. At the time, Panor was importing LED lamps from both China and Taiwan, but was dealing with unacceptable fluctuations in the quality of the products. So, they reached out to my company through an acquaintance of mine, asking if we could produce this product. After six months of consideration and some research, we were confident that we could. We met with Panor in November 2000, and agreed to establish a joint venture, rather than to simply work together as a manufacturer and a seller.

3. Is there a specific reason why you chose to relocate your headquarters to Seoul Magok Industrial Complex?
Seoul is a very strong city in terms of R&D, with a great business environment, particularly with regard to manpower supply. Also, the city’s transportation infrastructure is outstanding, with subways all over the city. And these infrastructures are what makes the city competitive. Magok Industrial Complex currently provides various technology support programs, which will be expanded further beginning next year. Also, as a technology-industry convergent complex, Magok Industrial Complex creates synergy in development by facilitating interactions among the enterprises. In my opinion, Seoul is equipped with all the infrastructure that is needed, and suffers nothing by comparison with other countries or cities.

4. What are the benefits of doing business in Seoul?
Since we are a small enterprise, our resources were limited, and we didn’t have a website for quite a while, but the Small & medium Business Corporation helped us to resolve this issue by providing support for building our website. Also, thanks to the Korean Intellectual Property Office we were able to apply for domestic and overseas patents, three in both Korea and the U.S. One American patent has already been registered, and we are also making efforts to apply for many more patents. All this support throughout the process of us developing new products and applying for Korean and American patents has greatly helped us in enhancing our competitiveness.

5. What do you think is the biggest factor that has helped CRESLITE become an ‘export-oriented hidden champion’?
We received mold support from Seoul Business Agency, thanks to which we were able to develop several molds and purchase equipment. Usually, Chinese or Taiwanese companies share molds with each other. The downside of that is that their products are all similar, and they don’t have creative or unique models. However, the products we provide our partners are unique, and this helps them present our identity, so I believe that’s the biggest factor. And the second factor is quality. At the beginning of each year we assess our product defect rate for the previous year, and for more than ten years the average defect rate has been at 0.028%, which means that only 28 products are defective out of every 100,000. With this level of quality, our products can stand comparison with those of large enterprises.

6. Do you have any advice you can offer for other companies considering exportation to foreign markets?
I believe the key is knowing one’s strength. A company should first understand where it excels compared to other competitors, and should manufacture and import products based on this. Without a complete understanding of its own strength, the company will not be able to prevail over competition. Also, support programs such as the Trade Fair Support Program and Buyer Matching provided by Seoul Metropolitan Government will be very helpful in developing export outlets.

7. Could you describe what Seoul means to CRESLITE, in one phrase?
It is a launch pad for the second opportunity. Thanks to Seoul Metropolitan Government’s support program, CRESLITE has been awarded commendations from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the prime minister, and the Governor of Gyeonggi-do, and also was given the Five Million Export Tower Award. I hope your company can also grasp new opportunities with the help of the support programs provided by Seoul Metropolitan Government.