Home >Industries

Innovative rain protectors usher in sunnier future for townsfolk

By ZHENG YIRAN in Beijing and HU MEIDONG in Fuzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-17

3.jpegA technician tests umbrella quality at a lab in Jinjiang, Fujian province, in June 2022.  CHINA DAILY

With technological advances, high-tech umbrellas manufactured in Dongshi town, Jinjiang, East China's Fujian province, are winning the hearts of consumers and improving local peoples' livelihoods.

For example, a rotating flashlight-inlaid umbrella manufactured in Dongshi has become one of the best-selling models.

"These days, apart from eating, sleeping and driving, my life has been filled with price negotiations. Our rotating flashlight umbrellas are selling like hot cakes. The production equipment in the factory has expanded from four units to over 20. Our research and development and production capabilities have been constantly improving, and merchants come to us for orders one after another," said Ye Jinyun, founder of Jinjiang Haoda Umbrella and Accessories Co.

Ye said the rotating flashlight umbrella has been popular for two years. During peak sales seasons, the company produced over half a million units of the model every month. Even with this frenetic manufacturing flurry, supply failed to meet demand.

"Trucks waited in line at the factory to get loaded, and sometimes we were out of stock," Ye said.

He added that during peak season, monthly demand for the specialized umbrellas totaled well over 2 million, and 90 percent was met by umbrella manufacturers in Dongshi, where businesses all over the country went to pick up goods. The model is extremely popular on online platforms such as Tmall, Taobao and Douyin.

"The popularity of the product has declined a little this year. However, we are launching a new product soon. This evening, a client from Zhejiang province is coming over to see my new product. It is likely to bring new growth points for the company," Ye said.

Apart from the flashlight umbrella, another product from Dongshi — a specialized plastic-handled model — has been popular in the market since 2019. The manufacturer, Jinjiang Nathan Umbrella Co Ltd, has been constantly upgrading its products. Now, it has launched the third generation of the model, which sold over some 800,000 units on the first day it was launched on Douyin's e-commerce platform, becoming an overnight bestseller for the company.

Huang Jiangnan, general manager of Jinjiang Nathan Umbrella, said: "Making profits is better than expanding scale. Only through continuous product innovation, meeting new demand from consumers and solving pain points can we gain a sustained competitive advantage."

Huang said that in order to better carry out industrial design and product innovation, he has introduced senior experts from the umbrella industry in Taiwan to jointly develop products. Every year, five or six innovative products are put into production and launched in the market.

In fact, as early as 2014, there were enterprises manufacturing such umbrella handles in Dongshi. After years of development, there are now 40 to 50 such enterprises, offering no less than half a million such handles every month.

Industry experts say the reason why umbrellas from Dongshi sell well is because the local industry owns a complete umbrella manufacturing industrial chain.

In the 1980s, people in the town started to open umbrella factories and introduce advanced manufacturing equipment, forming numerous umbrella making professional villages. Driven by leading enterprises and industrial clusters, Dongshi has formed a complete industrial chain and also accumulated a lot of umbrella industry talent and technologies.

Wang Xiangpeng, head of the Jinjiang Umbrella Industry Association, said: "We have advantages in terms of our industrial chain, and our practitioners have more exquisite assembly skills. For example, the technology of self-opening and collecting umbrellas mainly focuses on the handle. A small handle has a relatively complex internal structure, with no fewer than five parts in each handle. Each part requires different suppliers, and there are no fewer than 50 material suppliers in this category in Dongshi."

Wang added: "The structure of the skeleton is also very complex, with several parts. There are no fewer than 100 suppliers of such parts in the town, and even a spring and screw can be quickly found in Dongshi. With joint efforts from the industry, we will step up efforts to promote the innovation of the umbrella manufacturing industry in Dongshi."

1 2 3 4 5 6 7