Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Interview With Nelson Lau (CEO of Milsig)

Nelson Lau, the Milsig mastermind, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. I believe he was very frank in his responses, and there are definitely some answers to questions people have been posting on forums and elsewhere. Read on:

What were some of the challenges faced by Milsig in 2010?

2010 was a bit of a rough year for us in many aspects, and we faced several tough challenges. The biggest one was on the production end, where our manufacturing side couldn’t keep up with demand. As a result, many popular products were constantly back-ordered. We attacked this problem by streamlining production by focusing more of our production resources on producing the more popular products, and simultaneously reducing older and weaker performing SKUs. We have also just incorporated a real time inventory system, where the production side can track the latest sales trends and make the proper adjustments using more accurate forecasts.

The other major challenge is the ever increasing volume of calls and emails to our Vancouver office. As we grow as a company, we face more and more unforeseen logistical problems that we have to continually address. While this can be seen as a “good” problem to have, it’s nevertheless frustrating for our customers to not be able to get the proper customer service they deserve. We have brought on more personnel to help combat this issue, and we are doing some internal re-structuring to make the company more streamlined. Meanwhile, we thank all of our customers for their support and patience.

A large focus for Milsig in 2010 was the MSG (Milsig Solid Gear) line, what does 2011 have in store for MSG products?

To be perfectly honest, the MSG line was a bit of a hit and miss. While some of the items were very well received, others didn’t perform so well. Our customers have indicated that while the quality and designs were excellent, some prices were too high. Our challenge this year is to lower the price point, without sacrificing too much quality. This is easier said than done as production costs keep rising, and the volumes required to offset  the costs are hard to attain. However, we feel that we’re up to the challenge, and we’ll continue our hard work on the MSG line.

The Milsig Canada store has recently seen a large number of airsoft and .43 caliber products pop up. Does this signify a shift in Milsig's focus?

This is a question we’ve been asked quite often, and I really can’t answer it fully without explaining our internal structure and our history. There is actually not just one MILSIG. There’s MILSIG the brand/manufacturer, and then there’re two semi-independent distributors of MILSIG products: MILSIG Canada in Vancouver (Canada) and MILSIG Europe in Prague (Czech Republic).

MILSIG Industries is the brand/manufacturer based in Taipei (Taiwan) and is run by yours truly, along with my partner Cho, who’s in charge of all the R&D, and manufacturing of MILSIG products. Aside from making MILSIG branded products, we also do substantial R&D and ODM/OEM work for other companies in the Paintball, airsoft, real firearms, and automotive industries.  

MILSIG Europe (ME) is a subsidiary of AGS Trade SRO, and it’s a distributor of paintball, airsoft, and other sporting goods products. ME is the exclusive distributor of MILSIG products in Europe, and it’s owned and operated by my good friend Tom Novotny.  

MILSIG Paintball Canada Ltd. (MPC) is a distributor/retailer of MILSIM paintball and airsoft products.  MPC is the exclusive distributor of MILSIG products in Canada, and it’s owned by myself and my two partners Stan and Jacky. As I reside full time in Taipei now, Jacky and Stan are in charge of MPC’s operations, and for all intents and purposes we call MILSIG Canada the “Head Office”.

So the focus of the brand has never changed, and probably never will. MILSIG’s sole mission is to make the most bad ass MILSIM paintball products on the planet, period. 

As for MPC’s new product additions, it’s simply an expansion of MILSIM related products. It will forever be the source for MILSIG MILSIM paintball products, and the marketing base and information hub regarding all things MILSIG. The addition of .43 cal and airsoft products is a direct response to customer demands, and we’re finding that our customers are interested in ALL things MILSIM related, not exclusive to Paintball or airsoft. Furthermore, a lot of the accessories we carry can be used for both paintball and airsoft, so it’s just killing two birds with one stone.

A question I just have to ask... the Milsig Box Mag, where is it?

Ever since we posted up a proof of concept video on Youtube, our fans have been hounding us to release one. The original prototype was made using HALO hopper parts, and the response was obviously very positive. Many players took our original design as inspiration for their own DIY projects. We did substantial R&D work on this project, but we ran into many problems. First of all, most of the technologies behind the HALO, and other electronic hoppers are patent protected. We fully respect other companies’ IT, and right at the beginning we knew that we couldn’t mass produce a box mag using the prototype design. We came up with a few other designs, but at the end, these other designs proved to be too complex and costly. We are now working on a simpler and most cost effective design, but at this point we have no other details to offer. All we can confirm is that we are STILL working on it. At the end of the day, we’d rather release a great product from the get go, rather than to release a sub-standard one and then having to do recalls, revisions, or updates.

What is Milsig's stance on Tiberius First Strike rounds? Is there a place for them in the market, and is there a place for them in Milsig's lineup of markers?

Eric and I have been friends for a few years, and at our last face to face meeting at SHOT 2010, we talked about having MILSIG design products to shoot the FS rounds. He was very open about having more manufacturers make markers that shoot the rounds, as that will make them more popular. The biggest obstacle to the growth of the FS platform is the price. The rounds are still expensive compared to a normal paintball, and the only way for the price of the rounds to drop is an increase in its use.  

I think outside of TA themselves, we’ve done the most R&D with the FS rounds as our Asian office is also the exclusive distributor of Tiberius Products in Taiwan. It’s no coincidence that our MSG Tiberius specific products are considered some of the best Tactical Gear made for the Tiberius line of products, and our recent release of the Marksman T8.1 series barrels are a direct result of our extensive testing and R&D. So let me say on the record that we’ve already begun making products for the FS platform, and there will be more coming in the future.

What is Milsig most looking forward to in 2011?

We are going to be putting forward some new marketing plans, and there will be a few key product releases throughout the year. I think we’ll continue to surprise people, and will work our hardest to make the best MILSIM Paintball products possible.

If you're unfamiliar with Milsig, check out my review of their flagship product, the Milsig K-Series.

A huge thanks goes out to Nelson for doing this with me. I'm sure you guys will have lots of feedback based on what he's said, so comment away! If you know of a company you'd like to see interviewed, email them and tell them you'd like to see them do an interview with Grey Ops, or forward me some questions you'd like to see asked. We've interviewed plenty of interesting people in the past, and I'd love to do more in the next little while.

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