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Employee Retention of Kingston Technology -
April 13th, 2011
Kingston Technology Company, Inc. is an American privately held, multinational computer technology corporation that develops, manufactures, sells and supports flash memory products and other computer-related memory products. Headquartered in Fountain Valley, California, USA, Kingston Technology employs more than 4,700 people worldwide as of Q1 2011. The company has manufacturing and logistics facilities in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Taiwan, and China.
It is the largest independent producer of DRAM memory modules, currently owning 45.8% of the third-party worldwide DRAM module market share, according to iSuppli. Kingston is arguably the second largest supplier of flash memory. Gartner ranks Kingston as the world's #1 supplier of USB drives and #3 in flash cards.
In 2010, Kingston generated revenues of US $6.5 billion. Forbes lists Kingston as #77 on its list of "The 500 Largest Private Companies in the U.S." and Inc. ranks Kingston as the #6 Private Company By Revenue, #1 in the Computer Hardware category.
Kingston serves an international network of distributors, resellers, retailers and OEM customers on six continents. The company also provides contract manufacturing and supply chain management services for semiconductor manufacturers and system OEMs.
Through its ownership of Kingston Technology Company Inc. and Advanced Validation Labs Inc. (AVL), Kingston Technology Corporation is one of the world’s leading memory module manufacturing, module validation, semiconductor packaging and test companies in the world
Acknowledged as the world's leading provider of computer memory products, Kingston Technology Corporation also designs and manufactures portable products, processor upgrades, storage subsystems, and networking products for personal computers, workstations, and laser printers. With over 1,900 products and customers in over 60 countries, the company is the world's largest provider of enhancement products for PCs, laptops, notebooks, servers, workstations and printers. Domestic distribution channels include distributors, major reseller chains, and aggregators. This distribution, added to an international network, makes up 3,000 reseller locations across the world.
Kingston Technology Corporation was founded in 1987 by John Tu (originally from Shanghai) and David Sun (originally from Taiwan). Tu and Sun had met in 1982 and started Camintonn Corporation, a manufacturer of enhancement products for DEC systems. This fly-by-night company began in Tu's garage, with the two businessmen carrying computer memory chips in the back seats of their cars. By 1986, business took off with sales of $9 million. That year, they sold the company to AST Research for $6 million, investing their gains in the stock market.
When the stock market crashed in 1987, Tu and Sun lost almost everything. Then they saw an opportunity to recoup their losses. At that time, the computer industry was suffering from a shortage of memory modules for personal computers. Tu and Sun seized a simple solution to the problem, designing an industry standard Single In-Line Memory Module (SIMM) with an alternative chip that was readily available. This product and a mere $4,000 launched Kingston's operations, and the company soon began developing memory products for PCs.
A skeptical businessman, Tu found it difficult to believe that the simple solution the two had found to the memory crisis would result in a lasting company. He bet Sun a Jaguar that Kingston would not live past its first year. The PC market was beginning to produce computers that ran on separate proprietary systems, leaving the door open for Kingston to design and produce several unique memory upgrade devices for each individual market. In its first year, the company achieved $12.8 million in sales. Tu lost his bet, and Sun later bestowed the Jaguar upon an employee who had long dreamed of owning one.
By 1989, just two years after Kingston's emergence, the marketplace had changed. Chips were in ready supply once again, and as a result so were memory enhancement products. However, Kingston remained the clear leader in the memory market, and in 1989 the company earned $36.5 million in sales.
One of the ways in which Kingston quickly differentiated itself from its competition was the high level of customer services, including 100 percent testing of its products, comprehensive 5-year warranties, domestic 24-hour shipping, and free technical support. The company promised to immediately replace defective parts with no questions asked. Beyond customer service, Kingston established a holistic way of operating a family-style company. The company's philosophy places the customer third, after employees and suppliers. According to Kingston, if the company takes care of its employees and suppliers, the customers will be taken care of as well. Kingston employees are among the highest paid in the industry (as much as 30 percent above average), and an egalitarian work environment is demonstrated by the fact that Tu and Sun's working suites are cubicles among their staff family. Showing a generosity that is rare in corporate America, Kingston distributed 5 percent of pretax quarterly profits to employees as a bonus and matched employee contributions to 401(k) plans dollar for dollar. Further, managing the company conservatively, Tu and Sun ensured employees that should the company go out of business at any time, employees would be granted a full year's salary in order to find a suitable position elsewhere. Appreciative of such unusual treatment, Kingston employees tended to stay, with less than 2 percent annual attrition as of 1994.
Given such perquisites, one would imagine that job seekers clamor to work at Kingston. However, securing a position with the company is no easy task. Tu and Sun value experience over credentials, and seek employees who would be good members of the family. About 80 percent of new hires are the result of internal referrals. By hiring slowly, the company succeeds in implanting its family culture in each employee gradually. One of the most multicultural companies in the industry, Kingston employs a mix of whites, blacks, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Hispanic workers, with two-thirds of its workers in 1995 representing ethnic minorities.
Suppliers, the company's number two priority, are also treated well. The company never turns away shipments from chip vendors, nor does it renegotiate when market chip prices fall below contractual agreement levels. Kingston seeks to establish long-term relationships with vendors, working with them as partners over many years. Long-term relationships are also key management of currency risk, and Kingston has cultivated strong relationships with its foreign distributors based on mutual favors and support. When sterling fell against the dollar, for example, Kingston's U.K. vendor could not meet the cost of a more expensive dollar. At the expense of its profit margins, Kingston lowered its prices. However, the company, in such a situation, expects the vendor to return the favor when sterling's value again increases.
Kingston's early success was also due to the cutthroat computer market, where manufacturers customarily produced low-quality hardware products and made money on upgrades. With Kingston's upgrade products, these machines could handle the demands of word-processing and Internet software. Kingston soon became known for the speed with which it designed and delivered upgrades, sometimes producing the upgrade for a product before that product was even released to the consumer. Whereas most PC producers allow orders to pile up while they shop for the best bargains, shipping bulk orders every month or so, Kingston fills all purchase orders daily. The company places the quality of its relationship with suppliers and customers above any savings associated with waiting to fill orders. The result is that Kingston is the fastest company to meet its customers orders. Its reputation for speedy response is so strong that original equipment manufacturers have been known to refer their own customers to Kingston when they cannot meet customer needs in a timely way. Filling orders quickly has another advantage: Kingston carries no inventory.
All of these qualities set Kingston apart from its first few years in business. In 1989, Kingston extended beyond memory products, entering the storage upgrade market. The next year, the company began offering processor upgrades, the company's first non-memory product line. The introduction of Windows 3.0 in 1990 gave sales a boost, as computers required more memory than what was contained within PCs. Revenues almost tripled in 1990, reaching $87.8 million, and in 1991 sales again surged to $140.7 million. The demand for memory was spurred in 1991 by the rise of the memory-intensive workstation market, and Kingston created a special department to serve this market in 1991. By this time, the company employed 110 people.
Kingston offers our full-time employees a comprehensive benefits package including 401(k), a choice of PPO or HMO medical and dental, vision, FSA, life and disability insurance, EAP and more.
Job Opportunities at Kingston
Kingston Technology is now looking for qualified individuals to fill the following positions:
Marketing Program Manager - Latin America
Reseller Field Sales Account Manager - Chicago, IL