By Branko Miletic

From humble beginnings 50 years ago, the Bing Lee electrical chain had sales of nearly $330 million in 2006 and is expected to hit about $400 million this year with its 35 stores across NSW and the ACT. And following the death of co-founder Ken Lee two months ago, his son Lionel Lee, in the age–old tradition of an expanding company that started off selling televisions in the late 50s and expanded to all things electrical, has taken over the reins in what is sure to be a pivotal period in the company’s growth.

According to Lee, his philosophy for the next 12 to 18 months is “onward and upward”, in terms of both growth and profit, adding that his vision is of a strong electrical products sector in the ensuing 12 months. Asked as to what he viewed were the differences between Bing Lee and his competitors, Lee says that “firstly, Chinese traditional family values play a big part in the way I do business,” adding “by that I mean the most important thing to me is building strong relationships with my staff and my customers”.

Furthermore he says that he feels that he owes a debt to the staff, since without staff you have no business. In fact, Lee stresses that as a company, “we owe a huge debt to our staff, without them we would not be where we are today”.

As someone who started working in the family business at the ripe old age of 13, after school hours and during his holidays, Lee espouses other values like hard work and offering the customer the best service possible, along with the ability to negotiate on price.

“Our customers expect great service from us – not just in selling them the right product at the best price possible, but also making sure that they are getting that best price along with the best advice for their needs.”

That is one thing that Lee says differentiates Bing Lee from its competition. “We get about 140,000 customers walk into our stores each week and our aim is to make sure each and every one of those customers has a positive experience. You have to treat your customers as friends, otherwise you have no business.”

And considering that the profit margins for most electrical items are at all-time lows, keeping your customers happy and your staff diligent may well prove to be a winning combination in the long run.