After accomplishing our mission in Melbourne, Arman and I headed over to Hong Kong with a ferry up to Guangzhou. The Canton fair is tremendous. We met over 10 factories that produce our type of barrel bolt product. As a company that produces product for major retailers we see how vital it is to visit the country where we are producing our products. We need to understand the entire process and who is involved.
We spent around 1 week renting a taxi for the day and driving 6-12 hours a day visiting every factory possible. Shenzhen, which is a city 30 minutes from Hong Kong, is known for their printing and cardboard displays. We met 2 great potentials there. A lot of people from the US were telling us that we were only going to find cheap flimsy cardboard in China. That is so far from the truth. You get what you pay for. The factories had cheap and sturdy cardboard available. It is a matter of choice and price.
Our next stop was to fly up to Ningbo where our current factory is. We spent a little more than 1 week there. I love Ningbo. Most of the city is brand new and still growing. The people are friendly and happy. You can see people practicing Tai Chi with swords in the morning all over and they are dancing outside for exercise in the evening. I spent days in a taxi driving from factory to factory. We were all over Ningbo, Hangzhou, and surrounding areas. It is great to sit down with the factory owners and get a quote right on the spot. You can see for yourself if the factory is clean, organized, and producing good quality products. It is easy to spot the sloppy factories like it is easy to spot a sloppy restaurant in the US. You can see a lot by just looking at the small details.
At the end of our trip we spent 2 days in Hong Kong. It is a must see city. It is like New York but with hills like San Francisco, a really friendly crowd and no frigid winters.
All in All, if you want to have a quality product made in China you have to oversee the whole process yourself. Nobody else is going to care about your project more than you. To all of the people who are involved with your project, it is just one more project to them. But to you, it is THE PROJECT. Don’t be deluded into thinking that you can set it and forget it. You need to manage the whole process from start to finish if you want to have any chance to succeed. Remember that the odds are against you so you have to push extra hard to get traction and reach your goals.