24 years ago, Simon Lichtenberg, arrived in China with the firm belief of doing business. After working in timber trading in Malaysia, he established his first company with his US $30 000 savings in 1993. Unfortunately, his first business efforts did not paid off. Unable to meet his expectations, Lichtenberg went into bankruptcy and run into debts. After subsequent business failures, Lichtenberg, in his early twenties, decided to throw in the towel and planned to leave China for good when Danish furniture-maker firm, BoConcept, proposed him a deal consisting of selling its products in China. Lichtenberg accepted the deal, and that was the starting point of his successful career as entrepreneur.
Simon Lichtenberg founded his company, Trayton Group, in Shanghai in 1995. At first, with Lichtenberg owning the franchise from BoConcept, his group sold only BoConcept-imported furniture throughout Shanghai’s furniture shops and shopping malls. Trayton Group’s first-year sales were hugely successful, with revenues topping US $3.6 million. And that was mainly thanks to the contemporary and innovative designs of BoConcept’s furniture which immediately appealed to many young urban middle-class families who just started to buy or rent houses.
With US $6 million sales revenue in 1997, Lichtenberg established his own furniture manufacturing plants. At that time, he also started to sell his products in other Chinese cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Dalian. Today, Lichtenberg’s Trayton Group, composed of subsidiaries such as BoConcept Trading Co., Sofapop Trading Co., Simon Li Furniture, and Trayton Furniture, owns three furniture manufacturing plants in China, six BoConcept stores in Shanghai and eleven in other parts of the country.
In the meantime, Lichtenberg also encountered some legal problems, mainly regarding counterfeiting and nonpayment affairs. Starting in 1997, Lichtenberg engaged himself in a long and difficult legal fight against the proliferation of BoConcept counterfeit goods, which he won at last. In 2005, Zhenjing Leather Factory sued Trayton Group for non-payment of goods. After discovering the poor quality of Zhenjing’s leather, Trayton withheld the payments and returned the goods. Consequently, Trayton Group had some of its assets frozen for some time.
Now, Simon Lichtenberg is a well-respected personality in China. In 2006, he won the Shanghai Magnolia Silver Award.