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2011 International Person of the Year: Billy Dolan & Vivian Lo, Camsing Global
By Dave Vagnoni
June 2011

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When he was 17 years old, Billy Dolan was already a business owner. He began his first company in the U.S., Worldwide Lacrosse, by reselling sports equipment on the Internet before eventually expanding his operation through retail stores. By the summer of 1999, though, Dolan was thinking even bigger, opening an imprintable apparel company called Number One Sports. “That’s when I really started looking to China,” Dolan says.

Around the same time, on the other side of the world, a young Vivian Lo was showing just as much ambition. In her early 20s, she founded Guangzhou Camsing Limited, selling promotional products to companies in China. Based just north of Hong Kong, Lo was soon opening factories, growing her network of manufacturers and gaining serious traction with well-known customers. “We had clients like Pepsi International, Proctor & Gamble and Nokia,” Lo says.

Separately, 9,000 miles apart, Dolan and Lo were writing unique entrepreneurial success stories. Yet, together, as business partners for the last nine years, they’ve scripted something much greater, becoming a tandem worthy of being named Counselor’s International Person of the Year. “Billy and I are a good match,” Lo says. Adds Dolan: “We’re both people that understand promotions and developing relationships.”

Truly, it wasn’t fate or good fortune that spurred Dolan and Lo to cross paths. Instead, it was vision. At the turn of the century, as China’s economy flourished in the global marketplace, Dolan saw importing opportunities, while Lo’s company was well-positioned to be an even larger player in exporting. Simply put, their business needs intersected and their drive prompted a partnership.

In line with his personality, Dolan decided he was going all in. He sold Number One Sports and looked East, seizing the chance to make Camsing the global firm that Lo always intended it to be. In 2002, Camsing Global was born in the U.S., forming a formidable pipeline of bustling inter-continental trade. In addition, early on, Dolan was able to help score a promotional coup for Camsing, procuring licenses with entities like the NBA. “Camsing is really a Chinese company with a Western flair,” Dolan says. “We’re about having success on an international level. We understand the value of a brand. We don’t want to have the cheapest products. We want to have the best.”

But, undoubtedly, the best comes at a personal cost. While Lo, 39, is a frequent traveler who specializes in business development in Asia, Dolan has adopted a herky-jerky, time-zone hopping, self-described “mess” of a schedule that’s exhausting just to hear about. “I wake up at 9:00 in the morning and then I usually work until 6:00 at night,” he begins. “Then I start up again at 9:00 at night and work through 3:00 a.m. That’s a typical day.”

At least Dolan knows he’s putting those 15-hour days to good use. Camsing has become China’s largest domestic producer of promotional products, with factories stretching across five cities and offices spread across three continents. In June of 2009, Camsing acquired Minnesota-based Legends Golf, a well-established apparel provider noted for selling brands Byron Nelson and Harry Vardon to country clubs throughout the U.S.

Then this year, with a cannonball-like splash, Dolan and Lo have orchestrated a significant pairing of deals in the U.S. ad specialty market, purchasing in quick succession both Senator Promotional Group (asi/86390) and Counselor Top 40 supplier Corvest. Not only have the deals raised Camsing’s profile, but based on revenue, they’ve made the organization into one of the largest suppliers in the industry.

Dolan, 31, promises his investment is not merely financial. “As we get bigger, I don’t want to lose touch.” he says. “I want to build relationships. It’s important to me to know the details.”

Dolan knows his company is different than many U.S. suppliers. Camsing, which employs 3,000 people, can provide every component needed to fulfill an order – from design to assembly, from packaging to shipping, from warehousing to direct delivery. Camsing doesn’t partner with Chinese factories to develop and produce products. Instead, it owns factories. In fact, according to Dolan, the company is also in the process of fashioning a “super factory,” which will allow for even more efficiency in the supply chain. “At Camsing, we’ve always done custom projects,” he says. “Now, with these acquisitions, we’ll embrace making products over and over. We’re building inventory.”

In taking over Senator and Corvest, Dolan admits there’s plenty of work still to be done. Specifically, he says Corvest remains “in recovery mode” with an integration plan in place. “We’re making improvements every day,” he says. “I know how to make a product and I think there’s a level of comfort in that.” – DV

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