Last month, our friends and families came together at the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center for the 4-mile run / 1-mile walk. In 1999 Chris Spielman established the fund in honor of his wife. All the funds raised by Step-Up for Stefanie go towards breast cancer research at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center as well as the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.
This year eyes were set on getting a Stellant® Injection System. This system works with current Spielman Center equipment to enhance the visualization of cancer cells through various imaging processes, like x-ray, tomography and MRI, to increase the accuracy of detection and better interpret mammograms.
This year unfortunately we were not able to top the record breaking year in 2017 where there were over 1,700 participants, 138 teams, and 0,000 raised. However, we were able to raise enough for the Stellant® Injection System. With our 889 team growing we were able to grow our efforts as well. This year 889 Global Solutions was the 5th largest corporate supporter taking part in over ,000 raised for the battle against breast cancer.
Although the event has passed, the battle has not ended. With about
.8 million raised since the foundation of the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research we have been able to make great strides. By making a donation, you can join us in creating a cancer-free world. One person and one discovery at a time. We encourage you to support the cause devoted to finding the cure: Step-Up for Stefanie’s Champions
It was great to listen to Shige Yoshida, retired Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer of Honda as he enlightened members and guests of the Columbus Rotary Club last week on his experiences. Rotarians learned about developments and the eventual selection of the Honda Marysville plant making Ohio home for its first U.S. manufacturing plant.
Some of you may be more aware than others of the Honda story and the lessons it provides on bringing flexible manufacturing, industry leading technology, and local Ohio workers to create vehicles such as the 2018 Honda Accord recently named Car of the Year. However, Mr. Yoshida’s first ever public speech on Honda’s growth through the 1970’s, full auto production in 1982 and on to his retirement in 1987 added to that storyline.
Besides Honda, Ohio has proven a great home for many manufacturers such as Worthington Industries. Yoshida mentioned that John McConnell was one his biggest mentors through his career which has led him to be described as “the most influential automaker executive of the past 50 years”. The small Japanese company came to the U.S. as a non-union shop without substantial financial incentives.
Now today, we are taking pages out of their book on how to build cross cultural relationships within U.S. manufacturing. Tom Shoupe, current Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer of Honda of America Manufacturing picked up Yoshida’s trip down memory lane by describing the past twenty years of Honda’s success in Ohio as well as provide a preview of future directions.
The self-reliant North American company now manufactures motor vehicles in the same market where they are sold with over 10,000 American workers in their Ohio manufacturing plants alone. We are eager to see how the Honda story plays out and are excited to be a part of bringing overseas manufacturing practices to the U.S.
Winners to Be Celebrated at Gala Banquet on 1 June in Hong Kong
[COLUMBUS, OH] – 19 April 2018 – 889 Global Solutions, Ltd. was named the winner of a Silver] Stevie® Award in the Excellence in Innovation in Manufacturing Industries category in the fifth annual Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards today.
The Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards are the only business awards program to recognize innovation in the workplace in all 22 nations of the Asia-Pacific region. The Stevie Awards are widely considered to be the world’s premier business awards, conferring recognition for achievement in programs such as The International Business Awards® for sixteen years.
Nicknamed the Stevies for the Greek word for “crowned,” the awards will be presented to winners at a gala banquet at the Mira Hotel in Hong Kong on Friday, 1 June.
More than 800 nominations from organizations across the Asia-Pacific region were considered this year in categories such as Award for Excellence in Innovation in Products & Services, Award for Innovative Management, and Award for Innovation in Corporate Websites, among many others.
“We are delighted to be recognized by the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards for innovation in the manufacturing space,” said Judy Huang, CEO of 889 Global Solutions, Ltd. “In our 18 years of business we’ve found that innovation is vital to business growth. We congratulate all the winners and appreciate our clients who allow us to collaborate closely in order to lower costs, speed production and produce a durable product.”
Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award winners were determined by the average scores of more than 100 executives around the world acting as judges in March and April.
Details about the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards and the list of Stevie Award winners are available at http://Asia.Stevieawards.com.
About 889 Global Solutions, Ltd.
889 Global Solutions is a US-based contract manufacturer with offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Ningbo and Guangzhou, China. Established in 2000, the company specializes in the creation of custom metal and plastic components and assemblies for the healthcare, oil & gas and general industrial industries. The management team has over 30 years of combined industrial sourcing experience and are adept at establishing long-term relationships across East Asia.
About the Stevie® Awards
Stevie Awards are conferred in seven programs: the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, the German Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards®, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the Stevie Awards for Great Employers, and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Stevie Awards competitions receive more than 10,000 entries each year from organizations in more than 60 nations. Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide. Learn more about the Stevie Awards at http://www.StevieAwards.com.
Sponsors and partners of the 2018 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards include PR Newswire Asia and the Korea Business Communicators Association.
Join us as we stay up date on the Smart Columbus and Hyperloop One projects which will have a tremendous positive impact on the city. If you have followed our newsletters in the past, then you know that this is an exciting time for Columbus. These developments are happening at a time when the city is experiencing 1.5-2% growth in employment annually and offering over 20,000 new jobs. This seems to be just the beginning of the growth spurt. Alongside aggressive new plans for the city, city leaders are predicting that in the next 20 years an additional one million people will populate Columbus. It is critical during these times to not just make moves forward but make the right moves forward.
The city’s chief innovation officer and co-leader of Smart Columbus, Michael Stevens said it himself when talking about the residents and businesses who will benefit from the Smart City solution: “We have to understand: What are their needs?… We’re developing solutions that are solving a problem, and not a solution in search of a problem.” It was for this reason that Smart Columbus took a bit of a pause from their rapid planning and development cycle in 2017 to reallocate the granted funding.
During the pause period, feedback was gathered on some of the plan proposals from the people who were expected to directly benefit from them the most. From there, Smart City planners determined what people liked about the project, and what they didn’t. Parts of the plan that were undervalued, such as a proposal to create an app that would assist delivery drivers in getting access to reserved loading zone spots, were scrapped, enabling resources to be more efficiently directed elsewhere.
Now that the feds have given the OK to the altered Smart City plans, the committee has hit the ground running. In the first 20 months, the program spent just under half of the budget from the U.S. Department of Transportation grant for making the city’s transportation system more efficient, safer, greener, and better at connecting people with jobs. Planners have purchased the 1st batch of electric vehicles and added strategic charging stations for them around the city. Optimizing transportation has been central to the project, as Mayor Andrew Ginther was quoted as saying, “Mobility is the great equalizer of the 21st century.” Smart Columbus just recently chose a Columbus IT consulting firm to design and build the central integrated data hub that all other infrastructure of the project will build on.
Linden has received special attention from the project planners, with public meetings and extensive surveys with residents and local businesses being deployed to uncover how best to use resources to improve major metrics in the area. Surveys determined a significant factor to be improved prenatal care in the area as Linden has the highest rate of infant mortality in all of Columbus. The improved infrastructure is expected to help make necessary medical care more accessible to pregnant mothers.
At the forefront of the Linden prenatal care project is the Moms2B program, based out of Ohio State University. The co-founder of Moms2B Dr. Particia Gabbe spoke upon the importance of Smart Columbus targeting the infant mortality issue, “If transportation were solved – not just for getting to the prenatal appointments, which are critically important – but also for getting food, for getting laundry done, for getting things done that help have a healthy baby, a healthy home… all those things have a huge impact on our disparities.”
Overall the Smart Columbus design process aims to serve as a model for other cities to follow in future, a blueprint for planners in other regions to execute similar initiatives competently. In late February, The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) announced that the next step will be to study “rapid-speed” transportation options. The goal is to complete a two-pronged research project exploring a high-speed rail and the feasibility of a Hyperloop by the end of 2018. The high-speed rail research will encompass a Tier I Environmental Impact Study (EIS), part of which has already begun for the Chicago-Columbus segment of the project.
Including the City of Columbus, MORPC, partners in Indiana, Marysville, and Lima, there has been just under $1 million committed so far. There is an expected $1.5 million of additional funding coming from private partners. The Hyperloop has been embraced by Smart Columbus as well as Executive Director William Murdock who stated, “Being in one of the fastest growing regions in the Midwest and with the potential to add up to one million people by 2050, we are taking the next steps in exploring the best transportation options for both passengers and freight that will better connect Columbus to Chicago and Pittsburgh.” Stay tuned to our upcoming newsletters as we keep you updated on these storylines and more.
For years after the Great Recession, economists scrutinized the market for signs of recovery. What they saw were slowly rebounding numbers that indicated a less than stellar turnaround from the lows of 2008-2009. For those of us involved in supply chain management and international trade, this was a point of concern. Some economists used the term “secular stagnation” to explain why growth had been so sluggish, why the economy hadn’t rapidly reestablished its growth trajectory. The theory holds that minimal market growth is the eventual equilibrium in a fully developed economy. Its proponents believe that, in the long run, the endgame of a mature market is stagnation. The question then becomes, does this theory provide a helpful framework for understanding the market?
Coined by Harvard economics professor Alvin Hansen, “secular stagnation” theorizes that the horizon towards which mature markets progress eventually becomes a boundary. It holds that the upward trajectory of macroeconomic potential eventually hits a ceiling, where growth gives way to a long plateau. The idea was first put forth in 1938, during the tail end of the Great Depression, and has reemerged to describe the economic downturn of 2008-2009 and subsequently lagging markets. Believers in secular stagnation hold that markets will reach a state of maximum aggregate demand with minimal prospects for future growth. They maintain that a set point exists where aggregate demand stalls out in relation to supply, resulting in a perpetually stagnant economy.
It is not coincidental that the term “secular stagnation” arose during the tail end of the Great Depression. In 1938, after many withering years of financial loss and instability, many felt that the world economy was destined to remain low forever. And now again, in the post Great Recession economy, some have wondered if signs of slow recovery in world markets means that the economy is ultimately destined to stay that way in the long run.
Keep in mind that the disparity in market behavior between the Great Depression and the Great Recession is dramatic, however. The Great Recession bookends a drop in worldwide GDP between 2008 and 2009 of less than 1%, while during the Great Depression between 1929 and 1932, worldwide GDP dropped around 15% percent. From the Q2 2009 low of $14.355 trillion in real GDP, the United States is up 20% to $17.271 trillion in Q4 2017, and per capita GDP increased from $47,000 to $52,000 from 2009 to 2016.
As far as supply chain concerns overseas, some economists say that China was one of the least affected markets during the Great Recession. As early as Q4 2009, Chinas GDP growth rate rebounded to pre-crisis levels at 11.4% per year, and in Q1 2010 the GDP growth rate was above its long-run average at 12.2% per year. In 2009, Chinas real GDP was $5.11 trillion, 7 years later, it was $11.2 trillion. For businesses fearing a long-term contraction of international trade, those numbers are reassuring. Whether or not secular stagnation is the true fate of mature markets, only time will tell. But for now it appears that the economy has found the frontier once more.
The shipping industry is influenced by many factors such as supply and demand dynamics, domestic and international policies, and environmental forces. Shipping rates are constantly changing to meet market demands. Since 2008, the industry has seen some drastic shifts. For example, oil prices increased more than 300% from just 2008 to 2012. Without making the proper capacity cuts or rate adjustments during this period, steamship lines lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to a crowded market. In 2017, we experienced record freight rates and tightened capacities. Fewer drivers on the road to haul the increase in freight volume, combined with two major hurricanes further displacing resources, impacted the ability to secure trucks. As demand continues to increase and resources to satisfy those demands decrease, we will be seeing changes in 2018 of a somewhat different nature.
The most recent ELD (Electronic Logging Devices) regulations have put major strains on the market. The new laws were implemented with the intention of creating safer roads by using an automated tracking system to monitor truck operation. While ELDs may increate compliance with the legally mandated maximum 11 hours of driving daily, it is also creating a shortage of drivers. According to the American Trucking Association, the U.S. is short about 30,000 truck drivers as a result of the struggle for compliance to the new regulations. Another reason for the shortage is that drivers feel the regulations to be a violation of privacy as they see their truck-cabs as a home-away-from-home. Lastly, and possibly the most significant, is the aging work force, with the average truck driver in the U.S. being 55 years old. Driver shortage issues will continue if retiring drivers are not being replaced by new recruits.
With fewer drivers on the road, we can expect certain fees and rates to rise. The first being detention fees, as the delivering “free time” is decreasing to one-hour from the previous two-hour standard. Meaning that the current market is moving towards one hour of loading/unloading time. Other fees we may see increase are spot rates, which are onsite quotes for freight that needs to be transported. As capacity remains tight we can expect increased truck rates and more shippers transitioning from truck to intermodal or rail transport. Here are a few ways to avoid additional detention charges:
- Forward plan work schedules to ensure your facility is adequately staffed to load and unload your shipments when truckers arrive. Additionally, palletize the cargo when possible to expedite the loading and unloading time.
- Generate delivery schedules ahead of time with your freight forwarder to help give your facility time to prepare for incoming shipments.
- Try to be adaptable when anticipating a drop-off, this way you will have better chances to save on additional detention costs.
These are the more short-term changes we can expect, but starting in 2018 and a few years out, we will see new technologies impact the industry in a significant way. For example, Uber Freight is an app that launched Spring 2017 which operates like Uber’s prominent ride-sharing app. Independent contractors can now use excess-capacity of their fleet to schedule and fulfill one-off order requests. This is not the only app in development. Amazon and Convoy also have apps that will look to enable on-demand freight. The concept will be to match trucking companies with shippers in efficient ways to reduce the estimated 40% of miles truck drivers travel with no cargo. Another case is the autonomous vehicle – many large asset companies have already showed interest in Tesla’s electric semi-truck which can travel 500 miles on one charge. Without having to pay for diesel or maintenance on a combustion engine, we can certainly understand the appeal.
We can speculate how these trends in the market and new innovations will affect each other. Maybe these new technologies are being fueled by large asset companies that don’t want their shareholders to think they are ignorant to the industry trends. Maybe this move in the domestic trucking industry will remedy the driver shortage issue. What we must make sure of is that we remain flexible in this new shipping environment. Shippers will need to be more adaptable in less-than-ideal-situations. Carriers will be more selective of the business they choose to handle.
We are following developments of Section 232 and Section 301 carefully, as these policies are designed to substantially impact trade volumes of crucial manufacturing materials. The Section 232 clause falls under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, granting the president power to act against imports that threaten national security. While it traditionally addresses a concern for wartime production capability, the term “threat to national security” can be defined in a variety of ways, such as that which engenders substantial unemployment, displaces the domestic manufacture of product, or gives rise to excessive foreign competition. A ripple effect on the international market is being observed, as new tariffs bring to bear global trade shifts.
With matters of national security, the government ensures the capacity to produce steel for tanks and other military equipment domestically, rather than rely on imported material which may not be available during times of conflict. The executive action carried out under Section 232 applies a 25% tariff on raw steel, and 10% tariff on raw aluminum, effective March 23, 2018. These rates represent a many-fold increase over the standard U.S. trade-weighted average import tariff rate of 2.0% on industrial goods. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who conducted the investigation into the impact that certain imports have on national security, called for a reduction in steel imports by 37% and aluminum by 13% in order to re-calibrate domestic production quotas.
Section 232 and its estimated $50-60 billion worth of tariffs have been labeled as restitution for intellectual property damages levied on the U.S. by China. China has been accused of having an unfair foreign policy towards U.S. intellectual property that forces companies to transfer their technology to Chinese soil in order to sell in their market. U.S. firms are in a disadvantaged position against the threat of embargo, giving China leverage to skew deals heavily in their favor.
The impact of Section 232 on China has already created a ripple effect on international trade. China being the worlds largest exporter of raw steel material, accounting for 49% of total production, and with the U.S. being the worlds largest importer of steel, accounting for $29 billion of trade in 2017, the new policies are expected to dramatically re-calibrate production. In the short-term, companies with infrastructure overseas or with a 3PL partner able to fabricate their steel and aluminum parts prior to importation are not as effected by the Section 232 tariffs. However, domestic manufacturers are left with increased raw material prices forcing an adjustment in supply and increased market prices to meet demand.
The National Tooling and Machining Association along with the Precision Metalforming Association have voiced their concerns about the trickle-down effects of the new tariffs. They cite the Section 201 30% steel tariffs that occurred in 2002 as being responsible for the closure of thousands of metal-stamping companies due to a lack of access to globally competitive prices on raw material. Their concern is that broad-sweeping tariffs are dangerous to American prosperity because they put workers at risk of losing downstream jobs as professional tool and die makers and machinists.
China reportedly plans to introduce $3 billion worth of its own taxes against U.S. imports of steel piping, pork, fruit, and wine. As a response to this, on April 3, 2018, the U.S. made an announcement for the introduction of Section 301. An investigation by the Office of the United States Trade Representative decried four categories of action by the government of China justifying the action, including:
- [Using] foreign ownership restrictions, such as joint venture requirements and foreign equity limitations, and various administrative review and licensing processes, to require or pressure technology transfer from U.S. companies.
- [Forcing] U.S. companies seeking to license technologies to Chinese entities to do so on non-market-based terms that favor Chinese recipients.
- Unfairly [facilitating] the systematic investment in, and/or acquisition of, U.S. companies and assets by Chinese companies to obtain cutting-edge technologies and intellectual property and generate large-scale technology transfer…
- [Conducting and facilitating] unauthorized intrusions into U.S. commercial computer networks or cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets, or confidential business information.
Section 301 consists of 25% tariffs on 1,300 Chinese products. Included in the list are drugs, medical devices, additional alloyed and unalloyed metals, car parts, household appliances, power equipment, agricultural machinery, textile machinery, media devices, and machine tooling. Follow this link for a press release containing the full list of applicable Harmonized Tariff Schedule subheadings: https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/files/Press/Releases/301FRN.pdf
Here is the current timeline for the Section 301 tariff investigations:
- April 23, 2018 – Due date for filing requests to appear (with a summary of expected testimony) at the public hearing in Washington D.C.
- May 11, 2018 – Due date for any written comments on the proposed actions
- May 15, 2018 – Date of the public hearing at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington D.C.
- May 22, 2018 – Due date for the submission of any post-hearing rebuttal comments
Requests can be made for product exemptions, but these are anticipated to be limited and not reliably granted. A business must prove lack of domestic availability, insufficient domestic quality, or critical infrastructure issues pertaining to national defense. It must be determined that no equivalent U.S. manufacturer exists, and proof of contact and qualification attempts with manufacturers must be provided. Exempt countries are expected to implement measures to stop transshipment workarounds by increasing customs screening, and violations carry a civil penalty equal to either the domestic value of the merchandise, or four times the lawful duties, taxes, and fees owed. Click the following link for information on starting the exemption appeal process: https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/232-steel
In the coming months, the ripple effects of Section 232 and beyond will become clearer. It is going to be more important than ever to stay savvy, as new developments will have a significant impact on supply chain logistics. Whether your organization is being effected by these tariffs or is worried about it effecting you in the near future, it is critical to know where you stand and what preventative measures you can take. 889 Global Solutions is closely monitoring the situation as it continues to develop. Should you have any questions regarding the update, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more, see The Effects of China’s Proposed Tariffs.
As that famous 1971 hit by Ten Years After goes: “I’d love to change the world / But I don’t know what to do / So I’ll leave it up to you.” Recently 889 Global Solutions has been involved in some charitable efforts and wanted to share some different ways you can get involved. Through your support, these organizations uplift people and communities and improve the quality of life around them. In early March of 2018, our staff volunteered with Meals-on-Wheels and LifeCare Alliance, as well as the Homeless Families Foundation and Columbus Rotary, to support the amazing work they do helping underprivileged families. Soon, we will be participating in the Step Up For Stefanie Walk/Run. We believe that selfless contribution is a healthy part of any community, and have found these organizations to be particularly wonderful for the services they provide. Please see below to see how you can take part in the action!
Earlier this Spring, our team and their families had a heart-warming experience taking part in the Meals-On-Wheels volunteer program. Meals-on-wheels serves 2.4 million seniors and helps people in a variety of different walks of life. Those served include people who undergo medical treatments that prevent them from leaving the house, people with difficulty chewing food, and people with dietary restrictions. In cooperation with Life Care Alliance, chefs and registered dietitians create healthy, complete meal plans to give to those in need. Are you looking to contribute to a great cause? They accept any size donation, and have multiple volunteer programs to choose from.
- To get involved, contact Michelle Jones at 614-437-2803, or you can read more here: https://www.lifecarealliance.org/volunteer/
On March 10, we had the opportunity to participate in a fun day of Olympics put on by the Homeless Families Foundation and The Columbus Rotary club. We enjoyed setting-up for the event as well as being timers, score-keepers, and judges. Most of all, we enjoyed the smiles at the award ceremony afterwards. It was uplifting to provide a positive and encouraging atmosphere for the kids. In a day focused on youth health and fitness, kids gathered to do fun obstacle courses and get the blood pumping. There were push-up and sit-up stations, dodge ball games, and even a balloon popping competition to inspire kids to be active and have fun. Since 2012, Columbus Rotarians have contributed over $1 million to community programs in Columbus. The Homeless Families Foundation puts on after school programs and weekend events like the Kids Olympics where they provide shorts and T-shirt to every child and award medals and ribbons to participants. Both organizations take big steps to make our community a better place for all.
- Stay up to date with the Homeless Families Foundation: https://www.facebook.com/homelessfamfdn/
- For information on the Columbus Rotary club: http://columbusrotary.org/sitepage/how-to-join
If you missed the last two events and are wondering “what’s next?” you are in luck! This Saturday April 21st 2018, the staff here will be taking part in the Step-Up for Stefanie walk/run for the second year. Proceeds from this 4-mile or 1-mile course will benefit local breast cancer research through the Stefanie Spielman Research Fund. Over the last 16 years, they have raised more than $1.7 million for cancer research. Along the route, runners and walkers alike will be enjoying live music and other entertainment. We are excited to be participating again this year, and have doubled our fundraising goal from last year. It is our hope that you will support the vision of creating a cancer-free world. We want to express our sincere thanks to all of you for your willingness and desire to help us in our fundraising efforts. Click here to see how you can contribute: 2018 Step-up for Stefanie flyer.pdf
We look forward to seeing you at future events!
In 2014, Beijing’s CRRC Corporation (the largest rolling stock manufacturer in the world), began what has amounted to nearly $ 3 billion of contracts to re-build American transit systems. Headquartered in Beijing with over 180,000 employees, the company has steadily gained ground in the U.S.
Recently CRRC has struck deals in Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles, with plans to invest in major production and assembly facilities. In Boston, plans call for a $ 60 million final assembly facility and test track at a former Westinghouse site Springfield, Massachusetts. In Chicago, it’s a $ 100 million manufacturing facility on the Southeast side. Lastly, in Los Angeles there will be a facility to manufacture major components, including propulsion and air conditioning.
The numbers are obviously astonishing, but the message that local authorities have given so far is that the company had the highest-rated technical offer and lowest price while offering the most robust local employment program and highest U.S. component content.
The first of the deals was with Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority for Boston’s subway system. The $ 567 million project will build 58 cars by 2021. The design process has taken three years for the Orange Line and Red Line cars. The design will provide 15 more passengers per car, wider and electrically-operated doors, four accessible ADA-compliant areas per car, LED lighting, modern HVAC, automated passenger information, data recorders, and live CCTV capabilities.
In March 2017, CRRC signed a deal with the Chicago Transit Authority to produce up to 846 new rail cars. The $ 1.3 billion contract will revive rail car manufacturing in Chicago after a 50-year hiatus. The manufacturing facility on the Southeast side will be about 381,000 square-feet employing about 170 workers. According to a statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, CRRC will spend $ 7.2 million to train the local workforce. In a news release the Mayor said, “This new facility represents a major investment in Chicago that will bring economic development to the Southeast Side, while creating good-paying jobs for hundreds of workers.”
The most recent agreement, in late March 2017 was confirmed for the Los Angeles Metro by Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACTMA). It came right before Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump met in Florida to discuss trade and investment between the two nations. The LA deal encompasses building 64 subway cars that will be worth as much as 7 million. The cars have already met Washington’s “Buy America” provisions requiring 60% of components to be made in the U.S. The first car is expected to be delivered in 2020 and completion of the project is expected by Fall 2021.
In totality, the world’s largest supplier of rail transit equipment is looking to improve technology innovation, upgrading capacity, and manufacturing platforms in the U.S. In an interview, Li Yongle (Vice President of CRRC Qingdao Sifang) said, “CRRC will support other project plans in the U.S., including projects for metro cars and high-speed trains.” CRRC will be helpful in developing local U.S. economies as well as the interconnectedness of various business hubs nationwide.
I was meeting with a company recently. They called me because they were considering making some changes to their management team. They were frustrated with the behavior of leader in their company in China, a Chinese executive. Their concern? He (let’s call him Wang) was not on the plant floor enough. He wasn’t communicating regularly with them about day-to-day details at the plant. They wanted him to design and lead some production improvement projects and he wasn’t following through.
I suggested that before they consider replacing him, which is both costly and time consuming, that it would be good to take a look at their procedures. I could work with them to assess day-to-day business transactions and how they had structured the communication of business needs. This would give us the short term benefit of identifying Wang’s strengths and weaknesses, we could better identify what capabilities we would be looking for in a replacement, and at the same time we could identify areas where we could improve their procedures.
But really…I was thinking during the discussion that the underlying reason for their dissatisfaction with the manager was cultural. The above complaint is one I hear often, and its common struggle for US owned companies in China. Not because of the capability of the manager, but because of our different expectations of what a manager does. Let’s take a look at one difference between how U.S. and Chinese value management communication.
To do this I am going to look at the behavior three ways; what we say our goal is, what that really means, and then how we feel about it. So let’s look at management communication in China and the U.S. through that lens.
- What we say we do: Americans believe that our management style is open, that we empower our teams to engage and contribute to the organization by giving them overall goals and encouraging them to create a solution.
- What it really means: Your boss is going to give you a goal, maybe a loose outline, and expect you to figure it out. You know that phrase, right? To figure it out involves you coming back to them with questions regularly through the process. They (un)intentionally give you incomplete information (because it would be insulting to give you all the details) and expect you to come back and ask for more information. In an American work environment, you should ask your supervisor regularly for feedback as you progress. If you don’t, then they worry that you aren’t making any progress and you may go astray. And you had better ask more questions, because they didn’t give you everything you needed up front in the first place.
- How it feels: If you are American, depending on your personality, this can either be liberating or irritating. Yes, you have more flexibility and input, you can be creative and you have a lot of freedom in how you perform your job. Equally, it can be frustrating to only have the outline of the project change as you proceed, watch the goals change as you gather more information, and stop and start while you wait for feedback.
- What we say we do: Chinese believe that their management style is clear and efficient, that they give their employees clear instruction and direction and the employee can be successful with less risk to them and the organization.
- What it really means: Your boss is going to give you very specific goals, and information and details on how to meet that goal. You are expected to stay within the framework of your role and not venture outside of the parameters. If your task involves coworkers you will go to them early and often to gather information. You should not ask your supervisor questions, if you do that means they failed (they didn’t give you clear direction) and you failed (you didn’t understand it).
- How it feels: If you are Chinese, depending on your personality, this can be either liberating or irritating. Yes, you know exactly what to do to succeed, your boss will give you clear direction and you are responsible for your part of the project, not for things that you can’t control. However, it can be frustrating if you want to be creative in your job and/or expand your skills outside of your current role.
CONFLICT: Obviously, the conflict is when you have a boss from one cultural expectations and the employee from the other.
- Chinese in the US managing Americans: An old friend of mine was asked to move from China to the U.S. for a six month assignment as interim Director of Supply Chain. She is Chinese, had 20 years’ experience, mostly with U.S. companies and had worked for this particular company for five years. After she was in the U.S. for a month or so I called her. When I asked her how things were going, she said “Americans drive me crazy. They can’t just get things done without coming back all the time with questions. My teams in China would have just taken care of it. It’s such a waste of time.”
- U.S. factory in China: I was working with a client in China, the GM of a large 400 person high tech factory in southern China. As we were meeting on a project, his Chinese Plant Manager came in. Their discussion was about a new product that would be coming to the plant, and what lines they would use to manufacture it. The U.S. manager threw out ideas (and then grabbed them back and threw out more). He said “what about lines 4 and 8” and as the Chinese manager was thinking through 4 and 8, with just a few minutes going by…the American said “no…what about 5 and 9” Over 5 minutes the American changed their mind a few times (he was, after all brainstorming). I could see the Chinese manager getting more and more frustrated.
- U.S. Manager talking about a Chinese employee: The U.S. manager said to me that the Chinese employee was hiding something, that they weren’t being transparent about the problems at the factory. Why? The Chinese employee only mentions a problem to management after they have identified and started working on the solution.
- Chinese intern on a project: I hear this from Chinese students here in the U.S. who are interning at U.S. companies. As a matter of fact I just had this conversation with one of my interns. The students are given a broad outline of a project, and then the boss is gone. They don’t give them much information on how to complete the project, its not something they have done before, they don’t have the data needed, etc. The Chinese intern isn’t comfortable asking the boss for more information, so the project stalls and both sides are not happy.
- The Chinese manager would need to understand this is how U.S. workers have been socialized in the workplace. If you aren’t coming back to give your boss updates, you aren’t doing anything. I wouldn’t try to change their behavior – “when in Rome” as they say.
- This is similar to the above, but if the U.S. manager really needs his staff’s input to make a decision – he needs to frame it that way. If the U.S. manager had framed the discussion better in the first place, their Chinese manager could have worked within that structure. Rather than saying “we are going to decide where to put this product” if he had said “we are going to think about 5 or 6 different options for this product, and then we will narrow it down to the best two options. Then I want you to take the next few days to analyze those two and give me the pros and cons of both.” No problem – the goal was outlined, and the Chinese manager could work on that (clearly stated) goal.
- In this situation the answer is procedures. Having a procedure that forces problems to be written down on a form and management notified. How you implement that depends on the function of that particular position / department. But any client that works with me knows that I am stickler for procedures. They eliminate a lot of cultural misunderstandings.
- With my intern, I framed the situation for him – told him I expected him to give me an outline of the project, and then I would comment on it, and give it back to him. And that we would repeat this pattern back and forth a few times. I told him I know he wouldn’t be comfortable working this way. But, this is how Americans are, and to work in the U.S. he needed to get more comfortable with it. The first draft he gave me – 90% complete. Lol.
SUMMARY: Overall, U.S. management behavior expects information to be communicated up. We expect employees to “bring us problems” and “keep us updated.” In China the expectation is that information will be communicated down so that managers “prepare employees to succeed” and employees are focused on implementation of those tasks.
There is not a right and wrong. Or if there is – you should adapt to the environment you are in. Not force your U.S. communication value system onto Chinese employees in China. And Chinese managers/employees in the U.S. need to adapt to the expectations here.
FYI – this is a small part of a training program I have for companies (one for U.S. teams, one for Chinese teams) that started when Disney asked me to work with them more than 10 years ago. There are patterns in behavior like everything else, and as much as the projects we work on involved regulatory procedures and accounting processes and quality systems – those are influenced by cultural norms. There are many reasons why we have the behavior norms that we do, but to learn that you need to take the class!
This client had the class, but its hard to change your own expectations! I wanted to use the exercise of reviewing their communication and procedures to remind them of those lessons, and help them create a better system to keep everyone on track.
OVERALL – It’s important to be competent both in the transactional side of business, and the cultural / behavioral. Developing that skill set in your team is critical. Learning from advisors who have both technical and cultural experience is also.
To read more check out the link below:
U.S. and Chinese Management Expectations