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China sourcing: Using online supplier directories

China sourcing Using online supplier directories

Most of you already know that at GlobalSources.com you will find long lists of potential suppliers for just about any product. And in videos produced by PassageMaker entitled “Finding Suppliers” and the video called “Evaluating Suppliers ” we talk about how to narrow down that long list of potential suppliers to the best supplier for your particular order.

But for today’s post, I was asked to offer some other tips about using the Global Sources website.

Keep in mind that the following tools are all free!

1. If you want to stay in touch with the latest trends in sourcing, you would be wise to sign up or RSS the following websites that are in the Global Sources family.

At Global Sources’ sister site, www.SmartChinaSourcing.com you will find a lot of great content from sourcing professionals covering topics ranging from paying suppliers to managing QC.

At GlobalSources.com at the bottom of each product category home page — “Electronics” for example — you will find free resources such as industry news, surveys and a showcase called “What every buyer needs to know”.

2. There is also a free “Ask the experts” service where you can send in your specific questions and people like myself will provide feedback and get you pointed in the right direction on issues of China sourcing.

3. I highly recommend the 18 Global Sources e-magazines that come out each month, each covering a different industry. Each one is a good tool to get a feel for what products are available in a given industry. The magazine is pretty thick with a lot of content, but I like to flip through to keep an eye on trends and see which suppliers are making which products.

4. It is always a good idea to come to China to hit a trade show and visit suppliers face-to-face, ideally at their factory. But if you are not quite ready to make the flight over, you may be interested to know that Global Sources now hosts a virtual trade show online. At recent trade shows, Global Sources staff went around to each booth and took pictures for the virtual trade shows online.

5. Speaking of trade shows, on Global Sources.com you will also find a comprehensive list of trade shows broken down by industry and location. Not only does Global Sources list their own trade shows, but they also list all the other trade shows. If you do come and check out any of the Global Sources trade shows in person, make sure to attend the China sourcing seminar series. It’s free as well.

6. I’d also like to address the term “verified supplier” which you will find online at GlobalSources.com. In my opinion, Global Sources goes out of their way to ensure the suppliers on their website are professional. Global Sources staff even visits some of the factories. But, China is a massive market and things at the factory level can change suddenly.

So just because a factory has a high ranking in the star system today, it is not a guarantee that they will be professional tomorrow. But, having said that, if the factory has high ranking with Global Sources, and if they have maintained a booth at the trade show for many years and if they advertise in the Global Sources e-magazines, then there is a much higher likelihood that they will be good suppliers for you.

As I said, because things can change so quickly, a key manager leaves, the factory moves, staff don’t return from Chinese New Year holiday, raw material pricing goes up, quality goes down. A great supplier today is not a guarantee they will be a great supplier tomorrow. So as buyers, it is our responsibility to conduct due diligence and qualify our vendors. The Global Sources verified supplier ranking is an excellent start. But it is just the start of the process. Check out the videos called finding and evaluating suppliers if you want to learn tips for checking out a factory.

Wishing you successful China sourcing!

China sourcing: Resources if you can’t make the big trade show

China sourcing Resources if you cant make the big trade show

The China trade season comes twice per year in April and October. If you want to refresh yourself on what you saw during your trip, or if you couldn’t make the trip in the first place, know that Global Sources has created a virtual trade show by taking a picture of every single exhibitor’s booth and posting the images of staff, products and additional information to the Global Sources website.

But in order to make room for the next round of shows, after 4 months, the online fair comes down and a new one goes up.

I’m also happy to report that Global Sources has included the video tape of the China Sourcing Seminar Series, hosted by PassageMaker Staff on their virtual trade show platform.

How to find trustworthy suppliers in China

How to find trustworthy suppliers in China

The single most important factor in determining the success or failure of your sourcing program will be finding the right supplier. It sounds obvious, but making apples‐to‐apples comparisons of vendors at a national level can be daunting. The following article is a behind the scenes look at a how PassageMaker assists its clients find vendors in China. This system outlined below is based on the company’s 10 years of experience in China and 1000’s of sourcing programs. Having outlined how to conduct a professional supplier identification program, the second half of the article will focus on the costs involved and options for conducting such a program.

I. How to find trustworthy suppliers in China

Your sourcing feasibility study / supplier identification research should have a clear methodology for defining and measuring the desired attributes of the ideal supplier.

Step One “Defining”: The “right supplier” is unique to each buyer, as the relative weight placed on price, quality, lead time and other attributes differs from project to project. Below is an attribute survey template used to transfer this information from buyer to research team. A sample project is attached at the end of this article for reference.

Step Two “Measuring”: At PassageMaker a typical supplier identification research project takes 30‐45 working days assuming multiple components and production methods need to be explored, at a national level. The process is as follows:

Initial research generates a list of 50‐100 potential suppliers using web directories like www.GlobalSources.com and industry/trade show directories. At PassageMaker, the Approved Vendor List (AVL) can be consulted to see if any known suppliers should be added to the list.

Insider Tips:

  • Assume the vendor is a middleman until proven otherwise, not the other way around.
  • Avoid factories that refuse to list the name or location of the production facility. If they only show a HK, Taiwan or other non‐PRC address, then they probably don’t own the PRC factory and are a middleman of some sort.
  • Focus on those factories that can clearly show production experience with your particular product or production method.
  • Be aware that polished English skills do not reflect production skills. Often the most polished websites are set up by trading companies.
  • Look for clear information about operation size, equipment and staffing.

(Visit http://www.psschina.com/articles.htm  for related articles
on avoiding middlemen in China.)

Review the 50‐100 candidates’ websites and brochures against client’s desired attribute list and narrow the field down to 15 to 20 candidates. At this point, “first contact” is initiated in the follow ways:

  • Send an e‐mail or make a phone call to ask for initial product‐specific information (price, minimum order size, lead time).
  • Are samples available? If they don’t have samples readily available, they probably don’t deal in your product on a regular basis.
  • Granted the sales team will be the most polished in terms of English skills, but how is their understanding of your basic requests? If you ask for information on a red umbrella and get sent a sample of a blue shoe, you are going to have problems with communication down the road!
  • Confirm the actual production location and ask for ownership papers of the factory. Be explicit that the production location may be audited and that this location can not be changed w/out approval of buyer. (You would be surprised at the number of middlemen who will take the buyer on a visit of a factory only to change the location to a less expensive and poorer quality option after the buyer leaves).

The above research should narrow the field down to about 5 highly qualified candidates. At this stage, PassageMaker QC engineers and Sourcing Managers (joined by the client when possible) visit the factories in person to review quality systems, confirm production methods, negotiate pricing and look for any red flags. In other words, visit the production facility to confirm the information given during the initial research was accurate and truthful. This is an essential yet often overlooked step by those looking to cut corners during research. Unfortunately, due to the massive number of trading companies and aggressive China sales staff who will say almost anything to get your business, visiting the production line in person (or via your appointed representative) is the only way to confirm the real situation.

Based on the results of the factory visits, the next phase is sampling, trial order or even Purchase Order placement with the top vendor or two.

(Visit http://www.psschina.com/articles.htm  for related articles
on Negotiation and Vendor Coordination)

II. Options/Costs for Conducting Supplier Research

How to Find Trustworthy Suppliers in China OptionsCosts for Conducting Supplier Research

When looking to source in China, you have a number of options with various costs involved at your disposal. Below is a behind the scenes look at the pros and cons of each option.

Do it yourself

Thanks to free and easy‐to‐use websites like Global Sources, generating a list of potential vendors has never been easier. But make sure you have the time, engineering and China sourcing experience to narrow a massive pool of vendors down to a handful of highly qualified vendors. Simply picking the first 3 vendors that come up on an internet search is highly unlikely to uncover the best match for your particular requirements. If for budgetary reasons you are forced to DIY, we hope the above outline and tips will get you pointed in the right direction.

Engage an intermediary (trading company, sourcing agent or factory representative…) to conduct this research on your behalf.

It is worth paying for professional research if you don’t have the time and China experience to conduct the supplier identification research on your own. There are 3 common methods used in China to invoice for the initial supplier research:

ONE: Charge a % of the future PO value. Generally 5 to 15%. While this is an easy to calculate figure, unfortunately there is no incentive for the research partner to keep costs low. Actually the incentive is to steer the buyer toward the most expensive sourcing option.

TWO: Invoice a set research fee. At PassageMaker for example, a fee of a few thousand USD is charged per production classification researched. This fee is refunded to clients should they utilize PassageMaker for on‐going services such as vendor coordination or inspection services (visit www.psschina.com for details).

THREE: “For Free”. Some companies will offer to conduct the initial supplier identification for free. However, while it sounds the most attractive at first, nothing is done for free in China and quite often the “for free” model is the most expensive in the long run. As mentioned above, our team of experienced sourcing engineers will require 30‐45 days and spend 100’s of man hours, leveraging years of China sourcing experience to narrow this list from 100’s of choices down to the top candidates. If somebody offers to “do it for free” this is what may be really happening:

    • They will decide which sub‐suppliers to use. That means they may select the supplier which is best for them, not best for you. Perhaps where they have a relative, kickback or commission. In effect the buyer is getting steered towards a supplier which may not be the best match for the buyer’s specific requirements.
    • “You get what you pay for”. They don’t plan to conduct in‐depth research on a national level. If someone is providing research for free, they may not be as conscientious about understanding your goals and helping to find the right supplier. Keep in mind that finding the right supplier is the single most important factor in determining if your project will succeed or fail.
    • They plan to cover the internal costs of the initial research by charging you an inflated per‐unit cost once production starts. In the long run, the buyer pays too much.

Insider Tips:

  • If your “partner” is unwilling to state the name of the subsuppliers and give the pricing points, then you are certainly paying too much. Furthermore, if they do not disclose the actual manufacturer, then you have no way to validate the quality process in place and you have lost control over who has access to your intellectual property.
  • Unfortunately, even if you pay a company in China to conduct this supplier research you can’t automatically assume they are looking out for your best interests.

(Visit Common Pricing Scams for more information.)

It is common in China for trading companies to milk both ends, in other words charge the buyer for a research fee or commission while getting a kick back or other commission from the supplier. Therefore, you must perform due diligence on your research partners as well.

When considering a research partner in China, make sure you ask about ownership, compensation structure, client references, non‐compete clauses, research methodology, full disclosure of sub‐supplier pricing and identity, company history, warranty terms and the plan for protecting your intellectual property. At PassageMaker for example, by paying a research fee you can rest assured that we take the project seriously and will review each and every detail to ensure your goals are met.

We fully understand the importance of trust and transparency, and when we are hired for supplier identification research we offer total disclosure of the above information in our contract, so it’s absolutely clear where compensation comes from and that our interests are 100% aligned with the buyer. Should you pay for research in China, make sure you have such a contract in place. If your “partner” is doing the research for free, then they are not obligated to do a professional job.

PassageMaker 2010 trade show schedule

PassageMaker and our sister company China Quality Focus will also exhibit at the following booth numbers on the following dates. Come and visit if you are in the area!

Here are all the trade shows we’ll be attending this year:

September 8-10, 2010, Mumbai: Booth 1M14

  • Electronics & Components
  • Security Products
  • Home Products
  • Gifts & Premiums
  • Hardware & Building materials
  • Auto parts & Accessories
  • Bathroom products

October 12-15, 2010 , Hong Kong: Booth 1G11

  • Electronics & Components
  • Security Products

October 20-23, 2010, Hong Kong: 1Q01

  • Home Products
  • Gifts and Premiums
  • Baby & Children’s Products

October 27-30, 2010, Hong Kong: 5A37

  • Fashion Accessories
  • Garments and Textiles

December 1-3, 2010, Johannesburg: booth not yet assigned

  • Gifts & Premiums
  • Home Products
  • Baby & Children’s Products
  • Electronics & Components
  • Hardware & Building materials
  • Garments & Textile
  • Fashion Accessories

The Shanghai show has begun

The latest Global Sources Trade Fair is underway in Shanghai. Sadly, I could not make this one, but the PassageMaker / China Quality Focus booth is there, staffed by personnel speaking English, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Russian.

Stop by booth # 3A55 and meet our team and make the time to participate in Mike Bellamy’s conference on sourcing in China!

Great trip is almost complete

I apologize for my recent absence from blogging. I am wrapping up a month long trip to Shenzhen and Hong Kong, and it has been insanely busy and VERY successful. New clients signed (including one WHALE), several huge trade shows, a new Assembly Center, customer visits, many new foods eaten, legendary hangovers and a whopping case of food poisoning.

I have hundreds of photos and much to write about, but I also have about 600 trade show leads to follow-up, and money comes before blogging.

I will be back in the USA next week and will begin posting the travel log Tuesday or Wednesday.

Thanks for your patience.

Days 6-13 – Shanghai Hooters, Mao’s Revenge, and rotten cell phone companies

1 view from the apartment 1

Day 6 – Woke to steady rain after a fitful sleep. The Chinese believe in sleeping on hard beds, as it is supposed to be good for you. And when I say hard, I mean sheet of plywood hard. And how having your hips so sore you can barely get out of the bed in morning after tossing and turning all night is supposed to be good for you beats me. We will be upgrading the mattress shortly.

View from the apartment window.

1 view from the apartment 1

2 view from the apartment 2

And though it feels cold here because of the damp, it is about 62 F. Salem, VA was in single digits in comparison. The company apartment is decorated with Chinese art (Mike has good taste). We even have a life sized terracotta warrior.

6 this guy startles me everytime

4 love the screws

5 ill have one of these in va soon

Our apartment complex

11 the fountain

he walk to the office takes maybe 5-6 minutes. The rain was coming pretty hard and the wind overwhelmed the umbrella. One thing you notice about side streets like ours is how poorly they are sloped to drain the water. Makes for enormous puddles.

Stopped at my snack shop for dumplings and a tea egg. I make tea eggs at home, and they are just that – eggs boiled in tea, dark soy sauce and spiced with star anise. The flavor is very subtle – it is 90% a regular hard boiled egg, but the last 10% makes all the difference.

12 tea egg for breakfast

Worked the morning in the office, and then had lunch at the restaurant around the corner. It has a few dishes that are wonderful, but is certainly not fine dining. The highlights:

Day 6 lunch best use for broccoli

Day 6 best use for squid

Back to work until late in afternoon, then I head to Futian district to take an old friend from Taiwan to dinner at an Italian restaurant. We were the only ones there, so service was exceptional, as was the food, as was the wine, AS WAS THE PRICE. Dinner for two cost 7 times as much as dinner on the street the night before! Luckily she is bringing some of her USA friends to PassageMaker, it was a legit business dinner, but man it is easy to get spoiled by the cheap food over here. I figured we all know what Italian food looks like, so I’ll spare you photos of gnocchi and tiramisu.

Day 7 – A clear day, rain has stopped. It’s knocked the smog out of the air, so a bright blue morning.

Day 7 morning

Day 7 street-scenes

Off early to our Assembly Center in Buji. I’m working on continuous improvement initiatives there as part of our new ISO 9000:2008 certification, something we achieved just last month. My background is in manufacturing, and since we are gearing up for what we think will be a very strong 2010, Mike asked me to come over and assist with introducing the alphabet soup of kaizen related initiatives – 5S, JIT, OJT, etc. Meet and greet the staff, which is dominated by women at the manager level. Only one man on the senior staff. You are seeing more of this in China, but my impression is PassageMaker is ahead of the curve here. On to lunch, which is fabulous as usual.

Day 7 an even better use for squid1

Day 7 best use for duck

Day 7 i love these little fish

Day 7 man they do vegetables well

Day 7 you have to get used to your food staring at you

On the way out, we passed the fish tanks that hold the seafood fresh and alive until it’s time to cook it. Everything in China is prepared fresh.

Day 7 if id known they had had geoduck

Day 7 duck fish

Later that afternoon we headed back to the office to pick up Julien Roger of China Quality Focus, our sister company. Mike, Julien and I flew to Shanghai for the Global Sources trade show, a trip that wasn’t scheduled for me when I came over, but I’m glad I went. The show went well and I’ve never really been to downtown Shanghai before, just the industrial area around the old Hongqiao airport. We flew into the new Pudong airport and I am convinced the planning went something like this – “To demonstrate the greatness of the People’s Republic of China, we will build the longest airport in the world!”. We landed late at the last gate and walked for 10 minutes in a straight line down the terminal until we got to the baggage claim area. This is a seriously long building. And thoughtfully they included no people movers like the trams at the Detroit airport. Considering the late hour and the lack of other arrivals, you’d think they could’ve found a found a gate closer to the exit.

Heading to the hotel, Ibis, a chain of affordable hotels owned by Novotel, a French company, what struck me about Pudong at night were the vast highways. Six to eight lane interstate grade roads as compared to the cramped streets typical of most Chinese cities. Pudong was farmland just a few years ago, and it definitely has a planned feel.

Although they fed us on the plane (a 2 hour flight with meal service – haven’t seen that in the States in decades), Mike and I were still hungry, so we found an American bar, Malone’s across the street and had a very good hamburger while listening to a GREAT Filipino cover band. Every bar and hotel in China has a Filipino band, all playing English cover tunes, even when the clientele is Chinese. And nearly all of them suck. This was an astounding exception. They were tight and the covers were quite good, including good hard rock and heavy metal. The singer had some serious pipes.

Back at the hotel, I noticed the bathroom is a pre-fabricated assembly. Smart idea for a chain. It was one of the nicer bathrooms I’ve had in China.

Day 7 pre fabed bathroom

 

Day 8 – After the best night’s sleep so far, up early to get to the show and set up the booth. On the way to the convention center, I saw this:

Day 8 just bizarre

They switched us at the last minute to give us a corner booth, which meant we had to cut up the posters to make them fit. I think the booth looked pretty good, considering.

Day 8 our booth

I’ve been to a fair number of trade shows over the years. Heavy truck shows are dull unless you really like trucks and truckers, car shows are fun, and motorcycle rallies are a blast. But in every case before, I was selling a product. If the guy’s got a Road King we have something for him, but not if he has a Dyna. We’re on this model of Peterbilt, but not that one. But now that I’ve done it, nothing beats selling a service. EVERYONE doing business in China needs Quality Inspections, Product Testing, Sourcing Feasibility Studies, Vendor Coordination, Intellectual Property Protection, Logistics and Assembly Inspection & Packaging. The industry doesn’t matter, they all needed at least one of our services. This was a gift and clothing fair, but it is the same at every show. It’s like we are selling beer at a NASCAR race. We got business cards from USA, France, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Israel, Nigeria, Iran, South Africa, New Zealand, etc.

Mike is a featured speaker at every Global Sources trade show (including Dubai, Hong Kong, Mumbai and South Africa this year), and he gave a two-part presentation spread over the first two days of the show. He did a great job and it was extremely well received by the standing room only audience. Rather than a canned sales pitch, he tells it like it is, barely mentioning PassageMaker or China Quality Focus. The soft sell works and many attendees stopped by the booth afterward to tell us so. They figure anyone with enough confidence to NOT shove his company down their throats must have it going on. And they are quite right. We do.

Day 8 mike is featured speaker

Day 8 mike giving his presentation

Julien Roger is also a tremendous salesman and very knowledgeable. I learned a great deal from watching his methods. Selling China Quality Focus’s services is easier, as Quality Inspections are very straightforward compared to PassageMaker’s services, but the combined message of the two companies meshes very well. We often have the same customers.

The convention center is still under construction and gigantic. As with the airport, the point seems to be making you walk as far as possible to get anywhere. Despite the impressive size, they apparently forgot about effective HVAC. It is unseasonably cold and I packed for south China. Day 1 of the show had no heat at all, which made it a real grind. Day 2 was a little warmer, but still uncomfortable. By Day 3 they’d gotten it going to the point it was now actually hot inside. HVAC needs some work for sure.

They also have very little in the way of food. The restaurants inside looked just plain bad, serving cold rolls and sandwiches wrapped in plastic like a vending machine. However, there was a McDonald’s right across from our hall, W2. It turned out to be the world’s smallest McD’s, about the size of a broom closet, with one little girl selling horrible looking “chicken sandwiches” out of coolers. I put that in quotes, because they were actually pork. Menu says chicken, she will say in English it is chicken, the box says chicken, but she insisted in Chinese that they were pork. We passed and were directed to the other McD’s at W5.

W5 is an international airport runway away from where we were. In 30 F weather, I was not interested in the walk, but there was nothing else, so walk we did. Entering W5 was a shock as it was still under construction, freezing cold and reeked of paint fumes. The McD’s was even colder than the rest of the building. It was a huge McD’s, brand new and manned by an army of eager young staffers in winter parkas. McDonald’s can’t heat their own place. It was also completely deserted. We were it for customers stoopid enough to walk that far in the cold for genuine simulated food. Our “food” in hand we sat down to eat our rapidly cooling cheeseburgers (with cucumbers instead of pickles) in 25 F comfort, huffing paint. Then the staff helpfully turned on the Backstreet Boys at headache inducing volumes to entertain us, because what lao wai doesn’t love the Backstreet Boys? We’d shout over the music to tell them to turn it down please. And they would, just a little. As it was the only food around, we ate there all three days of the convention. Our experience was exactly the same each time, including the yelling over the music to turn it down. Note to China: the progress over the last 30 years has been astounding, but build convention centers with decent places to eat and heaters.

Day 8 holy crap this place is big

Day 8 holy crap this place is big 3

Day 8 holy crap this place is big 2

Day 8 this is the smallest mcds in the world

Day 8 why put the real mcdonalds as far away as possible

Day 8 w5 under construction

Day 8 way to plan fellas

The interior of the McD’s was just as bizarre.

Day 8 mcds posters wtf

Day 8 mcds posters wtf 2

Day 8 mcds posters wtf 3

Day 8 rarest sign in china

With the first day of thee show successfully behind us, we head out into a bitterly cold Shanghai sunset.

Day 8 shanghai sunset

For dinner, we are off to meet friends at Shanghai Hooters. Yes, really. This turns out to be loads of fun. Mike, Julien and I meet up with one of our sales reps, Dan Welygan, who worked in our Shenzhen office for about 4 years. Also in our quintet is a classmate from the University of South Carolina now living in China. Many, many wings and beer later, I have a new found appreciation for Hooters. It was a bold decision to open this restaurant, as typical Chinese girls lack the requisite body type required of a Hooters waitress. And they have to be attractive and be able to speak English. A pretty small labor pool. Our waitress was very good, spoke solid English and really new how to work a room. A very bright young lady, she has a future in sales for sure.

Day 8 our waitress elva

Day 8 hard to find hooters in chinaDay 8 hard to find hooters in china

Day 9 – Second day of the show went as well as the first. Part two of Mike’s seminar was very well received and many of the attendees have stopped by the booth, several 2-3 times. After the show, we meet our web developer, a French graphic designer living in Shanghai, at a trendy coffee shop for sandwiches. This place was in a glittering new mall, still decorated for Christmas. My cameras does a poor job in low light, so my apologies for the quality of the photos.

Day 9 christmas decorations

Day 9 first of two ferraris in 2 minutes

Day 9 yep thats a christmas tree

Day 9 this is what irony looks like

So far no Chinese food in Shanghai. After the meeting, off to meet another USC classmate at The Boxing Cat Brewery, the nicest brewpub I’ve ever been to. As I was once in this business, that is quite a statement. It was in a 100+ year old home in the old part of Shanghai, beautifully refurbished. The brewpub was 3 stories, with a bar on the 1st and 3rd floors. It felt exactly like a British pub, with beer selection and menu to match. Since we had already eaten we did not order anything, which now that I know the chef was trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, I heartily regret. I have a feeling it will not be my last trip. My, how far this country has come in just a few short years. However, even The Boxing Cat has moments that confound.

Day 9 were the heck do you want me to put it

Day 10 – Last day of show, and the pollution is pretty bad today. Traffic is light, and some exhibitors start packing up almost from the opening bell. We stayed until nearly the scheduled end at 5:30 PM, though we give up when they start dismantling the booth around us at about 5:10 PM. Global Sources has been good to us and we thought it the honorable thing to do to stick it out to the end, though honestly the show really ended around noon. Off to Pudong airport (which is even more gigantic from the outside and has the coolest road system connecting it I’ve ever seen) to catch our flight to Shenzhen. Our first Chinese meal of the trip is some very good Cantonese cuisine at the airport.

Day 10 shanghai pollution

Day 10 always a bad sign when the gates are in triple digits

 

Day 10 cantonese food chinese airport food is much better than usa

Day 10 cantonese food chinese airport food is much better than usa 3

Day 10 cantonese food chinese airport food is much better than usa 2

Day 11 – Worked all day to get caught up from the show. Verizon’s data service here stinks, a pale comparison to my old AT&T service (of course, that is reversed in the USA, which is why I switched). Many emails did not come through to my blackberry. I also discovered that Verizon is charging me $2/minute to RECEIVE CALLS. This was one of the specific questions I asked before adding the “China plan” for this trip. I have already written about how woefully trained their salespeople are, and this takes the cake. Since the trip began, I have been receiving calls from clients, family and friends – including a call a 3 AM from a client who had missed I was not in USA. My team in the USA is having words with Verizon about this, but let’s just say, it was a cute phone bill. China Mobile by comparison, charges nothing to receive an international call. Heck, their rates to MAKE an international call are less than Verizon. So, if you want to get in touch with me, send me an email and I’ll give you my China Mobile number.

I join Mike and Adam Supernant for dinner at a local place in Liantang.

Day 11 chinese donuts I like the fried ones steamed ones not so much

Day 11 gross

Day 11 very common to have fire at the table

Day 11 quite tasty tofu and pork

After dinner I was invited to join some of our Chinese co-workers at a nightclub. I was flattered to be invited and went along. After several hours, I had my first run in on this trip with the dreaded Mao’s Revenge. I am trying to tell it like it is for those of you who don’t travel overseas, and if this strikes you as TMI, it isn’t. You need to know what you are in for.

While western style “sitters” are becoming more common, squatters still dominate. In a sense this is good, as sitters are not as sanitary ( I mean, everyone else is sitting there too). But when you’re in an emergency situation and you are not used to squatters, this can get dicey fast. My advice for survival in these situations:

  1. Wear sensible shoes with good rubber shoes – I prefer Blundstones.
  2. Wear jeans. Avoid khakis – not the color issue but the way the pockets are cut. I always keep everything – wallet, keys, passport, phones – in the front pockets of my jeans.
  3. This is a very uncommon position for a Westerner. I have pretty strong calves and thighs, and have learned how to balance, but if you never done it before, try it and hold the position for 2-3 mins. It takes some getting used to and you don’t want to find out the hard way you can’t do it. Luckily the squatting position is more conducive to the situation at hand, and so things tend to go quickly.
  4. Carrying a small packet of tissues is a good idea. Toilet paper in a public restroom anywhere in the world is never a given. Handkerchiefs and socks (single use of course) will do in a crisis.
  5. Carry a bottle of prescription Lomotil or the generic. I always do and there is no OTC medicine that comes close. It WILL stop the drama.

My evening cut short, off to sleep. Day 12 is Sunday, market day in Liantang, and Mike and I head to Mian Dian Wang, or “Noodle Snack King”, my favorite fast food chain in the world. 14 line cooks actually making the food by hand. Total cost of the meal is about 60 RMB, or less than $9.

Mian dian wang

Day 12 mian dian wang

Day 12 mian dian wang 2

Day 12 mian dian wang 3

Day 12 mian dian wang 4

That evening, Mike threw a dinner party at his home. It was great to see old friends and an even better meal. Simply the best food I’ve ever eaten in China. Mike’s wife and the maid did all the cooking.

Day 12 two women in this kitchen in about 2 hours..

Day 12 two women in this kitchen in about 2 hours.. 2

Day 12 made this

Day 13 – Monday – Last night there was a little too much “medicinal wine”. Whenever you hear that phrase, run screaming in the other direction. After such an amazing meal, we needed something basic to calm the acid seas, so off to Subway (yes, really). A steak and cheese later and all is right with the world. With some lingering Mao’s, I head to the apartment to work from home. It was a glorious day, 70 F and clear blue skies with a light breeze.

Day 13 our apartment complex

Later Mike asked me over to finish up the leftover ingredients from the dinner party – there was no left over dishes, just raw materials. This is the modest result.

Day 13 a light meal

Two customer visits tomorrow and time at the factory.

All for now…

 

And now, the link to Mike’s interview…

Subscribers to this blog probably got an update last night that should have included a link to Mike Bellamy’s interview during the recent Global Sources trade show in Hong Kong. Sorry for the omission, but please take the time to watch.

And send in your vote on whether Mike should shave his beard! What’s up with that?!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Meet the PassageMaker Sales Team!

My biggest project this year is the development of an international team of sales representatives to promote PassageMaker. While the roster is not complete by any stretch, we have a good start, with representatives in Brazil, Europe, Mexico and the USA. We will be adding more photos and bios shortly, and I will post updates as appropriate.

We are currently seeking representation in India. If anyone is interested, please contact me directly.

I love it when a plan comes together…

Boy, were the trade shows REALLY different this October

I’ve written about this before. Mike Bellamy asked me to avoid politics in this blog. Which is mostly fine, because generally I am sick of politics.

But there are times when it is really, really, really, reeeeaaaaally hard, and this is one of those times. Why? Well, I’ve been going through the follow-ups from the recent Global Sources trade shows and one thing stands out like a sore thumb – the shortage of Americans in attendance.

I’ve spent the last 7 months putting together a group of sales reps to better serve our clients and help PassageMaker grow. We have 8 reps serving USA and Canada (more on the way), but my top priority was to establish reps in key foreign markets – Mexico, Brazil and Europe are already place, and I am working on covering the rest of the globe – but I had no idea this effort would pay off so soon.

Easily 85% of the follow-ups are non-USA leads. In years past, at least 60-70% were American. The reason for this reversal is disheartening. The USA is mired in recession, with a shortage of business credit, rising unemployment, etc.; while the rest of the world is recovering nicely. It does not have to be this way. As a small business owner, it is mighty disheartening to see so much indecision and ineptitude in Washington. When you have no clue what to expect next, caution dictates you batten down the hatches. The economy will not really get going again until people can plan for the future. And the solons in DC haven’t a clue the havoc they are creating.

And that is the extent of my political commentary for today. Have a great weekend.