Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Fresh Start in Taiwan

Steel City Tools

Today I spent the day with Dick Hsieh from Steel City Tools. We discussed at length the differences in doing business in Taiwan as compared to China. Dick lived in Hangzjoh, China for nearly 10 years, so he was able to provide some very clear insight. Dick grew up in Taiwan, his family having emigrated during the Qing Dynasty.
When Steel City Tools was just getting formed, Mark Strahler and Scott Box, both of whom he had known when they all worked for another toolmaker, asked him to be their VP of Asian Operations. He had been thinking of getting out of the tool business and opening a pub or restaurant, but they convinced him to give it one more go.

After a brief meeting at his office, where I got to see a prototype of a new 13” planer (due out around October) and sample some moon cake. Then we went to lunch and on the way back to his office, stopped by a Buddhist Temple. The carving and woodwork was simply amazing. The stonework was outstanding – the temple visit was a chance of a lifetime. Then Dick took me to the factory where many of the Steel City band saws are made. I was really impressed at how clean and well organized the operation was. Dick told me that the goal was not to pump out a hundred saws a day … but to construct the saws well. He said that quality is much more important when it comes to this level of tool. The young men doing the assembly would fit right in with my son back home.

Although Steel City is a very young company, Dick feels that with the group of fellows involved in the start up, it has a good chance to succeed. While no one, least of all me, can predict the future, I was impressed with the new planer and the manufacturing I saw today. And the memory of the temple visit will be with me for a long time to come.

Photos from top to bottom:
Steel City’s Dick Hsieh. Your favorite editor and Dick at the factory. Rob and Dick talk about the construction of band saws. The master – Confucius – the Buddhist Temple. A carved dragon against the sky. Yours truly and Dick Hsieh in the temple courtyard.


Anonymous Mike Moldenhauer, Wisconsin said...

I've just read all your posts on this blog. The pics are wonderful and bring back fond memories of my doing business in Taiwan. The level of quality has come a long way since back when I was growing up and experienced using some of the Asian made products first comming into the USA. I too found myself in restaurants where I ate without knowing what I was ordering, as the menus were not in english and all I could do is point. It was some of the best food I ever ate.
Best wishes for an enjoyable trip and a safe return home.

4:29 AM  

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