Manufacturing exec: Don’t be afraid of China

By Control Engineering Staff December 27, 2005

Beijing, China —Don’t shy away from doing business in China, advises Jack Perkowski, founder and CEO of Asimco Technologies Ltd . Perkowski added that it will be difficult to remain a global leader in the future without a meaningful presence or direct participation in China.

An automotive specialty parts manufacturer, Asimco has 18 facilities in 9 Chinese provinces and also operates three U.S. factories. The company was recently named one of the 10 best employers in China in a survey conducted by the Asian Wall Street Journal , the Far Eastern Economic Review , and Hewitt Associates.

Sharing his perspectives on China in a recent media teleconference previewing his upcoming keynote address at National Manufacturing Week 2006 , Perkowski offered two rules about doing business in China: “Rule number one is‘Everything is possible.’ Rule number two is ‘Nothing is easy.’ You don’t have to be a China-expert to do business in China,” he added, noting that he does not speak Chinese.

“You can’t be afraid of China,” said Perkowski. “It is essentialthat U.S. manufacturers incorporate China into their manufacturing strategies. It is essential to be there. China is changing quickly. Today, the question is, ‘How is China changing the landscape of manufacturing and the world. We can only imagine what will happen in the next 10 years.”Perkowski said that U.S. companies need to understand what has happened in the past in China to deal with its future. He observed that business models from 30 years ago may be much more applicable to Chinese industry than the advanced models used in the U.S. today. “China is de-centralized,” he explained. “Business is done on the local level. U.S. companies working there must develop relationships locally.”

He added that U.S. businesses operating in China have to empower Chinese managers, most of whom have little management experience. China, he said, “is not a place where you can bring in non-Chinese management to run the company. You need to have local managers. Saying that is easy,” he continued, “doing it is hard. Management as a science has only been studied in China since the 1990s. It is hard to find good managers,”he said, but noted that local onsite training is common and welcomed by the Chinese.

Perkowski will be talking about “China: Opportunities and Challenges” at National Manufacturing Week 2006 to be held Mar. 20-23 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL. He is also featured in the book, The World Is Flat , by New York Times reporter Thomas Friedman.

—Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jeanine Katzel, senior editor,