BY DAVID POWER
It’s been a long time since I started my experiences in China. My first trip there was in 1978 when Western Faces were very uncommon. During these many years I have seen the Good, the Bad and the Ugly that China has to offer. I have seen change so rapid it’s hard to imagine if I hadn’t experienced it for myself.
Just to give some idea of the Ugly I have seen:
- I’ve seen Surgical Gowns spread out on the bushes outside a factory drying in the sun. Product that got dirty during manufacturing gets washed and dried so it can be shipped and not be a financial loss.
- I’ve seen a worker sitting atop the barrel of a film extruder (kind of like he was riding a horse) with a bucket and a funnel pouring exactly 2.7% additive into the extruder. True process control.
- I’ve seen HEPA filtered manufacturing facilities where the air filtration is only run on days that customers visit because it cost money to run the system. That same factory had workers wear uniforms only on customer visit days because if they wore the uniforms every day they would wear out and have to be replaced.
- I’ve seen Sterilization Facilities where the EO gas is expelled into the stream as with the support of accommodating local officials the cost of reclaiming equipment is avoided. I passed on lunch there as the fish came from that stream.
- I’ve rejected test and inspection reports for various reasons and had new reports presented to me 10 minutes later, the ink on the paper not yet dry.
- I’ve seen Customer Employee Representatives come to Factories to inspect product before shipment, accept a bribe and sign the inspection reports without leaving the conference room.
- The list can go on and on.
A few years ago I read a book by Paul Midler “Poorly Made in China: An Insider’s Account of the China Production Game” January 2011. As I read about Paul’s experiences in China I realized that most of his experiences were very much like my own.
So how do we succeed?
How do we secure the products we need with the quality and process control we need and still enjoy the cost savings of China Manufacturing?
HOW DO WE GET THE GOOD STUFF?
Steven Covey tells us “Seek First to Understand before You can be Understood”.
Problem Solving Size of the Individuals Ego
To understand the culture, values, beliefs and core principles of the Chinese People is the first step to charting a successful path in China. As Westerners we often make the mistake of judging from our own paradigm of culture and principles. When we do this we have no chance to understand and little chance to succeed. It is common for Chinese to view Westerners in a negative light. After all we are but one step away from living in a cave, still hacking at our food with a knife and fork rather than civilized eating with chopsticks.
In the early years to understand an individual Chinese Person, you had to understand their personal experience during the Cultural Revolution. An attempt by the old guard to reverse counter revolutionary thinking, but what is now the thinking that has opened China to the West.
Now the working population of China has little direct knowledge or experience of that difficult time and new thinking is easier to encourage. It is common now for young people in China to think of themselves as a Modern Person with Traditional Values.
I once gave a gift of appreciation to my Car Driver. As demanded by his culture he then spent one month’s wages on a gift to give to me. For him to not reciprocate was unthinkable according to his values. A mistake I haven’t made again.
The People’s Republic of China is full of smart, highly educated, ambitious, hardworking young people that have a full knowledge of the world around them through recent access to Western Movies and the Internet. They are anxious to learn how to survive and flourish in the fast changing environment that is the Modern China while still keeping at least one foot in the traditional values of their parents and grandparents.
Only after we have committed ourselves to truly understanding the Traditional Chinese Culture as well as the demands, pressure and stress placed on the new generation of Chinese can we then reach a level of cooperation and mutual respect that becomes the basis of moving forward. The key words here are UNDERSTANDING and MUTUAL RESPECT. From that starting point an exchange of views can become productive and common understanding is forthcoming.
I am often surprise by EMM’s China Team as they proactively follow a path to developing, learning and implementing programs and initiatives to solve problems and improve our company, but then express concern and hesitation that perhaps they are being too brazen to think that they have the skills to effect such change. It is my role to encourage their efforts and personal growth while also insuring they don’t revert to traditional thinking that is the underlying reasons for the poor quality manufacturing of the past. A delicate balance to be sure.
Moods and Weather How to Stand in Line
At Exact Medical we have been successful in merging the values of the cultures of East and West into a synergy that we are most proud of. Many of our customers have visited our factories and interacted with our Chinese Staff and come away with the appreciation of this common understanding. It is often that customers comment that our factories and staff look very different from other factories they have seen in China. That while our Staff are just regular Chinese Citizens, they also fully UNDERSTAND and BELIEVE in the requirements for a company to succeed in a World Economy.
Our approach to goal achievement is somewhat unique as the merging of Western Values and Eastern Values has similarities to both but identical to neither.
For example, first we start with the Western approach of metrics. If you don’t measure it; it doesn’t exist. We then take those metrics to an Eastern approach wherein every department and production cell is audited and monitored every day for conformance not only to Product Quality, but Procedure and SOP achievement, Problem Solving successes, Process Improvement results as well as many other areas and activities. We then reward our employees with financial incentives for achieving high numerical scores in all these needs.
Attitude towards punctuality Elderly in day to day life
Our people are champions of a new path while still retaining the pride that is a part of their heritage and traditional culture.
It is a testament to our efforts that often when customers visit our factory before they leave they make employment offers to our staff. It is doubly gratifying that our people politely refuse and demonstrate a value to their long term commitment to EMM. A commitment we cherish and make to them in kind.
Through Understanding, Mutual Respect, Common Purpose and Merged Values; Exact Medical Manufacturing has found the answer to HOW DO WE GET THE GOOD STUFF?
Biography of David Power
David Power has been in the Medical Industry for 44 years filling roles in Product Development, Engineering, Sales and Marketing, Efficient Manufacturing, Quality Systems as well as Strategic Planning.
Mr. Power developed a vast experience in working in China having first traveled to China in 1978. He has witnessed and championed the development of manufacturing in China on a path of improving consistency and quality driven production. An area in the early years that was sorely lacking in China Industry.
David’s direct involvement in Chinese Manufacturing started in 1996 with an equity position in a Chinese company that successfully manufactured Surgical Gowns for 2 of the 3 major market leaders for those products in the US. This operation grew to over 3,000 employees producing in excess of 3,000,000 Surgical Gowns per month.
In 2009 Mr. Power sold his equity position in that company and used the proceeds to fund and start Exact Medical Manufacturing, Inc. EMM is founded on the strategic goal of developing a highly controlled, quality focused manufacturing resource directed to a broad customer base and a diverse product offering.
As founder and President, it is David Power’s role to translate that vision and strategic goal into tactical actions. During the ensuing years EMM has achieved significant growth in both sales and expanded customer base and products in the pursuit of this strategy and EMM is proud to have achieved this without relying of external funding of any kind.
EMM currently operates 3 manufacturing facilities in China with employment of 450 associates and continues to secure additional new customers and develop new products into the future.
Mr. Power firmly believes it is more important to paint a picture of what can be rather than look at what is and EMM has remained clear of mind and purpose in the pursuit of the original vision conceived for the company.