American Staffed, China-Based Kingston Quest Group Takes on the Challenge of Creating a User-Friendly Building Materials Supply Chain

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Kingston Quest, the parent group of China Building Materials Company is now up and running in Guangdong Province after seven years of China-based product development, project management & material sourcing services. Three other divisions, Kingston Logistics, Kingston Architectural Ironwork, and Kingston Green Products combine efforts to provide a total solution to the ever-growing demand for outsourced construction needs.

Kingston Quest, the parent group of China Building Materials Company is now up and running in Guangdong Province after seven years of China-based product development, project management & material sourcing services.

Three other divisions, Kingston Logistics, Kingston Architectural Ironwork, and Kingston Green Products combine efforts to provide a total solution to the ever-growing demand for outsourced construction needs.
Kingston Quest Group president Tony Smith sheds some light on the benefits and frustrations of overseas sourcing.

"It doesn't matter where you shop for materials, and there is no need to name names; the point is that almost everything that is being consumed is coming from China. But as the major retailers continue to find new ways to cut costs, the end consumer becomes enveloped with fewer and fewer choices of cheaper and cheaper goods."

Mr. Smith explains that, "for every great product that China can produce, there is a cost reduction manager that has a sole purpose to find the cheapest version of that product, which unfortunately ends up on your local home center shelf."

Big retailers simply exploit the marketing deficiencies of China factories that rely upon exclusive distributors to get their products to the marketplace, Smith says.

"Sure, you can buy lighting, hardware, electrical components, some lawn and garden stuffs, etc., but if you need stone products, such as select granites, travertine, wood and bamboo flooring, formed cement products, custom appliances, full room prefabrications such as kitchens, paneled libraries, or construction equipments, there is little one-stop support for this. Aftermarket vendors now charge an alarming amount of cash for products that are not expensive to produce at all."

China Building Materials, a division of Kingston Quest, is currently indexing 850 products that will cater exclusively to the home and commercial building communities. From wrought iron gates, to paving stones, foundation & construction materials, all the way up to the ridgeline shingles, Mr. Smith says his company can provide virtually all building materials through his China sourcing division.

Trust and Accountability
The biggest obstacle to business development in China is creating synergy between old-school factories and new importers. This is more than a culture shock or an issue of multinational respect, but a completely different set of expectations of products and services between both entities.

The working force of China is numb with pressures of work with low pay. If you were building a 300-unit condominium complex and required granite counter tops for all, you would be very lucky to have an unmanaged supplier complete your order without numerous errors.

Therefore, in exchange for the possibility of these errors, you, as the buyer, may wish to demand your payment terms to be L/C at sight + 30 days. However, as the story of the chicken and the egg goes, most of the factories, at least the first time around, will demand full payment by T/T prior to release of any goods for shipment.

"Most of my attention goes to marketing and vendor validation inspections," Smith says. "I am constantly on the road visiting suppliers, checking manufacturing processes, and demanding price revisions. Sometimes factories price too low and too high on a single product line simply because they have little relevant market information, not because they are trying to cheat anyone."

As the bridge of communication remains wide, but the opportunities for business are immense, Kingston Quest vows to bring together builders and materials, even if it is one customer at a time.

"We are in the sourcing business to serve professional builders, but we are not a trading company. We focus on special services that are unique to the trade of construction. A general trading company cannot do what we do," said Tony Smith, President Kingston Quest Group, Ltd.

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Connie Wu
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