From Top Handgun to Pop Handgun

His dad has been doing the “rag trade” for 3 generations. My late grandfather, Charles Chan Kent was an uneducated but driven individual who didn’t give in. He had to support 14 of his children and founded Aero Garment Ltd. which became the largest clothing manufacturer in Western Europe in the 1970’s. I am one of his 60 grandchildren. You could say that fashion was in my “jeans”.

In elementary school I worked cutting the sod and trimming the edges around my grandfather’s building for $1. 00 an hour : slave labor. My younger brother only got paid money. 50/hour for cutting the edges with a manual hedge cutter : child labor. They was able to trim black market guns his pay in half and get him cheap. It took 4 hours for us to do the yard act as we had to crouch and hunch over to trim the edges along the building as there were no electric or gas trimmers back then.

In high school my bros and I worked in the shipping department (aka : the concentration camp) every summer taking dresses into boxes, counting inventory, and pulling orders under a strict slave driver who timed us for every task we did. I called him the taskmaster, as he camped out in his office ready to whip us into shape and reprimand us for making mistakes. There was no favoritism for the young offspring of the family. When i got older I was presented with a pardon and was utilized in the accounting department to do bookkeeping under my father who was the CFO of the company. In fact all the males in my family were accountants. My father and younger brother were CGAs, and my older brother was a CMA; but I was just an MIA : missing in working order.

In 1985 I worked part-time selling the fabrics that were left after every season. My grandfather had 5 sons who ran the business. There was Sonny and a Bunny; but there was no funny, honey or money. I cut swatches, pasted them onto black cardboard assistance, created my own book and tripped to sell to anyone who was interested. I worked off a straight 10% commission basis and was presented with no salary, car wage, or gas money. It was a matter of tactical; : sink or move, or do or die; as our family didn’t believe in giving any free handouts. The only thing they believed in was giving free advice.

At first they threw me a bunch of swatches and prices and said to run with it, so i was left cold calling, developing my sales pitch and trying not to strike out. Yet I was fortunate to win a number of clients in the retail and wholesale industry, including local manufacturers and School Boards. In order to earn my commission for each sale, I was required to fulfill each order by measuring the fabric rolls, cutting to order, and taking the rolls separately in boxes. Back in the eighties acid wash jeans were the phenomenon and the manufacturing facility had two dedicated washers to create the wash effects. Fortunately I used some folks to create more business by acid washing all our denim fabric ends and selling them in bulk by the pound to various fabric chains such as Fabricland, Fanny’s Fabrics and the Angel Merchandising Group. In addition I purchased waste from other denim manufacturers and processed them for sale as well. You could say i always sold tons and took my clients to the cleaners.

Since we had our own garment wash/dye facilities on site I was presented with the added challenge of generating extra revenue from other manufacturers. Eventually I received business from companies such as Please Mum stores, Levi jean sub-contractors, and other denim makers. I also learned how to drive a one ton truck and picked up jeans and dresses from various garment manufacturers in town. Every day I would decrease narrow back alleys picking up jeans from various clients and trying to walk the monster without damaging it. One client of my very own was Starboard Pant manufacturing facility located in Vancouver Chinatown. I owned there once in a while i always nicknamed the car : the “wonton” truck.

A year later I was offered the additional responsibility of overseeing the embelleshment department and obtain extra contract work. I flew down to Nj-new jersey to learn how to digitize, repair and operate our two 20 head multi-color embelleshment machines and traveled to California to co-design a custom permanent magnet frame add-on to increase the efficiency of embroidering designs on denim back pockets. Some of the clients I worked with were local manufacturers such as Westbeach, corporate apparel companies, and businesses who had entitlements to produce goods for companies such as Disney. By this time I came down to reaping what I was regular sewing.

After graduating at Simon Fraser University in Finance in 1987 I worked full-time for the family business. In a year, I became area of the management team and took on the role of purchasing Manager accountable for forecasting and MRP (material requirements planning). I sat in meetings with the designers as they reviewed the new fabric lines that were presented. Then i corresponded with the sales agents once the fabrics were selected for the season. Learning about fabric construction and article was a bit hard to breakdown at first, but I dreaded more about having to think about avenues of discarding the locations after the season.

Two years later once again I was moved to improve the efficiency of the Distribution department and help expedite orders in a timely fashion. I guess your family must have figured that the authority style was outdated and would have to be re-designed to be more progressive. The company didn’t believe in being fashionably late.

After improving the efficiency of the Shipping and Distribution division I was asked to manage Operations from cutting, regular sewing, pressing, and trimming. The biggest challenge was to interact with all 300 workers who only speech Chinese. So in order to communicate with them without looking imprudent, I mastered the fine craft of nodding, and became very fluent in the art of Chinese sign language.

Aero Garment Ltd. eventually hired a new Director not in the family who started a Corporate Apparel division and I helped in the purchasing and inventory management. The company eventually set up a new Screen Print division and purchased some manual and automatic screen print machines. The corporate Apparel division became quite successful and we had contracts with Hooters restaurant chains worldwide, Alice Coopersville, Shore Mountain Bus Corp., Westjet Airline carriers, Mr. Lubrication, and Speedy Glass. I helped negotiate and win contracts with the government and other large accounts, but didn’t have the side good thing about socializing with clients such as Hooters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.