China - A land of contradiction
January 2016: China: culture shock, I'm an alien on my own planet. i have arrived in China. Day one: Shanghai: a mass of humanity, all of my senses overwhelmed, what am I doing in a place like this. Fifty five years of life and this is the last place I would have ever have considered or expected visiting. I had never traveled further than Australia and had never been to a country whose first language wasn’t English. I was thankful that I had brought an employee with me that was Singaporean and spoke fluent mandarin otherwise I may well have turned back around and flown back to NZ immediately ,such was the impact. High speed train travelling at 342km/h to Shanghai and one night in city centre, a mass of humans, lights, high rises, scooters, cars and no obvious road rules. Senses assaulted yet again, the sights, the noise and the smell of spices from the street food, intermingled with everyday living. Train and road trip to Taizhou City, Huangyan. Visit my first ever mould making company in China, 200 employees and mass of engineering equipment and moulding machines located in a six story building. poorly lit with no obvious worries around health & safety, this is the Chinese tool making industry that I had envisaged. Travel to Shenzhen and then Dongguan for a 4 day stay to visit customers and meet with other tool making companies to select a tooling and moulding partner in China. Shenzhen and Dongguan in Guangdong province are the major supply areas for Chinese tooling and injection moulded components. Rather than take a flight, I took the opportunity to catch the train from Shanghai to Shenzhen, approximately 9 hrs and 1400kms by train. This was a great trip and gave me a real feel for the size and diversity of this great country. Small villages, big cities, industry and stunning countryside.
Shenzhen: the youngest major city in China with a population of 10 million, only 30 years ago it was just a small fishing village called Baoan County. Dongguan: 99 kilometers from Shenzhen is one of China's most prosperous provinces and a major export player with 8 million inhabitants. Dongguan is where I met Tommy, Teri and lan and the team from Packson Mould Ltd who are now our Chinese mould making and injection moulding partners. What an experience, this first trip was and a real eye opener. April 2016: 4 days in Shanghai Visit Chinaplas and Haitian Machinery Co in Ningbo, my first ever visit to an injection moulding machinery manufacturer and the largest supplier of moulding machines in the world, producing 24,000 units per annum. Once again the sheer size of industry in China surprised me. Haitian have 5 factories and the largest we visited was 1,000,000 square metres in size. We have since ordered a 750 ton Jupiter series machine from Haitian. September - October 2016: 24 days in Dongguan with my Tool Room Manager, Sean Dreyer (30+ years’ experience in tool making in South Africa and New Zealand).
Purpose: Trial 16 injection moulds all of varying complexity with multiple cavities, multiple slides, core pulling and inserts, the largest mould weighing 12 ton. These mould's will be producing products from high end retail to industrial, agricultural, construction and packaging components. Having discovered Packson Mould Co Ltd in Fenggang Town on my first visit, it was obvious this company and its people weren’t your average Chinese tool making company.
The tool room and mould shop is pristine with all of the best engineering, tool making equipment that money can buy. You could eat your dinner off the floor. The moulds produced by this company and the tool making standards are world class.
Their understanding of English and their ability to communicate in English using engineering language is very good. They have a company culture to strive for excellence and are also focused on the long game.
The hospitality is outstanding and the fact Sean and I have been working and eating for such an extended period of time with this team it has been a great experience and not only have we developed a long term partnership with Tommy and his team, we have also made some lifelong friends.
I have greatly enjoyed the total immersion experience from the tooling, the moulding and the culture this trip has brought and it has trained and changed me for the better.
My experience of this country and it’s people has further opened my eyes and confirmed that we are all deep down the same as each other and have the same desires and dreams.
China has struck me as a land of contradiction, happy and caring people, industrious and hardworking, wealthy and poor struggling with the same worldly issues we all do.
I far prefer this area of China than I do Shanghai. The people are far more courteous and it reminds me of the old statement in New Zealand, the further south you go the friendlier the people.
I will be back to visit with Tommy, his family and employees with my wife to enjoy this great country in holiday mode.
Thanks to Tommy, Teri and the Packson team for a great experience and the successful outcome of these projects. Action Plastics look forward to continuing this partnership with you.
This article was originally published on Linkedin in October 2016.