EMSNOW Executive Interview: Carl Hung, CEO of Season Group
Season Group is a vertically integrated electronic manufacturing services (EMS) provider that started out in China making cable assemblies. Founder Patrick Hung handed over the reins of the company to his son, Carl, in 2016. Since then, the company has gone through a rebranding and some key acquisitions. We caught up with Carl to learn more about the future direction of this vibrant global company.
Season Group began in Hong Kong in 1975 and has since grown to encompass six locations on three continents. What were the main drivers of your growth and success over these many years?
Without a doubt our focus on relationships with our customers, supply partners and employees has been the number one driver in our growth and success, in the forty-three years since our launch. Season Group, which actually means “Time” and “Trust” in Chinese, believes wholeheartedly that people work with companies and individuals they like, which is why we put so much emphasis on improving the experience for our customers, partners and fellow team members.
Another one of our key drivers to success is innovation. Technology is advancing at a rapid rate and we pride ourselves on being at forefront of technology. We have not only invested in our facilities and state of the art equipment, but we have also invested in our people; hiring employees with unique skill sets in order to stay ahead. We’re also constantly studying the market and attending shows and conferences.
Your mission video speaks to some admirable aspirations regarding your employees, your commitment to the communities you serve and your intent to protect the environment. Could you give us some examples of how you have implemented this mission?
Over the years Season Group’s core values have been identified and we wanted to share them externally, not only to highlight our mission, but also to give our partners, customers and potential employees some insight into our company culture. We believe that if we create a place where people love to work and feel valued, then it will be reflected in their engagement, attitudes and workmanship.
As stated in our mission, we aim to improve the world’s living standard through offering quality products manufactured in a socially and environmentally responsible manner (all while living by our core values). With this in mind, we strive to engage with companies that require EMS / Design services for products that help the community and the environment, such as delivering solar energy solutions to rural Africa, or medical solutions to be used in developing countries. We support charities in Asia and work hard to ensure our workplaces uphold the highest standards in employee care.
Season Group has recently announced a bold strategy involving IoT. Why is this such an important market and how will your recent announcement help to capture the value of that?
The Internet of Things (IoT) has reached the mass market! Our everyday lives are touched by IoT, especially in the household where we are increasingly adding ‘smart’ products including the doorbell, fridge and home irrigation system. Water supply companies once monitored water pumps in their commercial rollouts, but now thanks to IoT, farmers can use solutions to monitor their crops and consumers can monitor their pool or garden.
While IoT is not radically new technology, it is the evolution of technology from commercial applications to consumer applications at lower costs.
IoT is growing at an exponential rate and it isn’t just tech companies creating products these days. We created SG Wireless after seeing a gap in the market; customers, often regular companies with no technical expertise, need to create solutions for the IoT market but don’t have experience. That’s where we come in! With forty-three years in manufacturing under our belt, and a team with a unique set of technical skills, we can provide customers with a complete end-to-end solution and guide them through the entire development cycle.
How is Season Group responding to the impact of US-China tariffs? Last fall you announced you could already see the impact. What does it mean to your business and how are you responding?
While we had not envisaged the US-China tariff situation, we are fortunate to have manufacturing locations around the world including in Mexico, Malaysia and United Kingdom. With multiple locations, we can redeploy the relevant customer’s projects to the facilities that suits their needs. Obviously, this might take more time, but our facilities are already established and this gives us a competitive advantage over other manufacturers who not only have to build a new factory but hire staff.
Another advantage is that with our scalable transfer process and additional team members, we are able to support transfers and mixed manufacturing models with minimum disruption. This flexibility, as well as being a Vertically Integrated EMS partner, has resulted in significant growth across our locations.
What other initiatives besides the IoT announcement would you like to share with EMSNOW readers?
IoT is a huge growth area and that is where we’ve decided to put a lot of our focus.
What do you see as the primary challenges to the profitability of the EMS industry in the next three to five years?
First challenge of the EMS industry is global competition. Where once manufacturing was done in just a few countries, it is now rapidly expanding and with massive amounts of money being spent by some company’s on building the latest and greatest facilities. That puts a lot of pressure on smaller businesses.
The second challenge we’ve identified is innovation. Technology has evolved to highly complex levels and the EMS industry is struggling to keep up. Today an EMS company has to invest in much higher levels of skills, staff and equipment if they wish to evolve with the technology. They need to be extremely innovative in their manufacturing facilities and in-house knowledge to be able to service their customers.
What do you see as the EMS industry’s core strengths?
While we identified global competition and innovation as challenges to the EMS industry, we also see them as strengths. As mentioned above, competition in the EMS industry is fierce and the footprint is now extremely large, however only those who have the funds to invest will stand out amongst the rest. And in regards to innovation, if a player in the EMS industry can evolve with technology and have the right facilities and knowledge, then their funnel of opportunities is great.
Is there anything else you would like to share with EMSNOW readers?
Be sure to check out the Season Group and SG Wireless websites, as well as following us on social media for all the latest news, events and updates. You can find us at