Greater China’s New Philadelphia Sales Office: A Special Ingredient

Late in 2013, Greater China’s founder and President, Ben Zhang, came to his friend and former classmate at Cornell University, Ben Kong, with an idea:

“Why don’t we open an office in Philly?”

Right off the bat, Ben Kong—General Manager, East Coast Region—saw promise in no longer being a five-hour flight away from clients, not to mention doing away with the inconvenient three-hour time difference. For Kong, this isn’t a matter of personal convenience:

“Greater China is a service-driven company.  To be exact, we provide better service than our competitors. This is a result of 20 years experience and greater importing expertise. When you buy from us you never have to worry about your order and can concentrate on more selling. Greater China values the intimacy of the relationship business we are in.”

Since the Philadelphia office is purely a sales office, they use the Bellevue HQ for everything else, such as logistics and sourcing. Already, Kong says the two-month old East Coast setting has helped tremendously for adding to Greater China’s business:

“The main benefit of having this office is being able to meet clients in person. We don’t come to our customers with a standard catalog. We’reconsultants on detailed custom import projects; we ask what they need, therefore it’s important to be close in proximity to the customer.”

Citing a project they’re working on for an East Coast commercial bank, Kong explains the benefit of being able to utilize that palpable sense of customer intimacy. Needing a customized pocket hand sanitizer, the client wanted it with a specially designed plastic holder, and then wrapped up in a unique bag. The product required FDA certification and was for almost 250,000 units. Kong put it simply:

“We worked one on one with the customer to cover every detail in a way that would not have been possible by phone call.”

With all the exchanges, specifications, customizations, and necessary feedback, there are some things that technology has yet to fully replace in the business world, one being the tangible benefit of having close geographical proximity.

“We were able to present samples and get that direct response and feedback immediately. Adding to the complexity of this project, we are using multiple vendors to combine their resources to make something totally new and custom,” Kong says. “Nothing was standard, it was a new product altogether—more complicated than 1+1=2. There were a lot of puzzle pieces to put together!”

And with an order size going into six figures, you want to make sure the client is happy with that puzzle.

Having been in operation for two months now, Kong believes the six-month preparation (or ‘over-preparation’) that went into starting up the Philly sales office was well worth the effort:

“At this point we believe things are getting on the proper track. We’re getting revenue in and getting the right clients…[the East Coast] is a terrific platform for sourcing and production, so there’s no reason for not utilizing it on the West Coast. The Philadelphia office brings aspecial ingredient.”

Speaking of special ingredients, perhaps the next puzzle the Philadelphia office works on will be figuring out what makes the Philly Cheesesteaks in Philadelphia so dang good!