The Baton Has Been Passed... The New TWMA Chairman, Mr. Tu
Keeping the Momentum **************************** With two terms under his belt as vice chairman of Taiwan Woodworking Machinery Association, it was only natural for C. L. Tu to step up as the new Chairman. "Not many people wanted the job," laughs Mr. Tu. "It is a time of struggle and everyone is working hard to stay afloat. It is also a bit daunting to try to measure up to my predecessor because he was a great leader." In fact, former Chairman Mr. Bill Hung made great strides for TWMA during his seven years at the helm, but time has a way of limiting the accomplishments of even the strongest of leaders' accomplishments. "Time is one of those things there never is enough of," Hung recently commented. He excelled on many fronts on behalf of TWMA. Government subsidies, re-vamping industrial zone infrastructure, smoothing out satellite outsourcing, and establishing technical education programs are among his many contributions. "It's not a matter of measuring up to Bill," says Tu. "He set a lot of things in motion and a big part of my job is to keep the momentum going." A Rep of the Masses *********************** Mr. Tu's company Cheng Kuang is a manufacturer of industrial finger jointing systems as well as 4 sided molders for hobbyists. One might liken this new leader to a different range of association members than the former chairman in that, while BOARKE ranks in as one of the larger companies in the woodworking industry, Cheng Kuang is a more modestly scaled operation. The industry now is still full of companies struggling to survive. While the large scaled companies seem less affected by recent economic strife, the ones that are hurting bad are the small to mid-sized ones. Being the boss of a company like that makes this new leader a true representative of the masses. Bill Hung predicted that in about two years there will be two types of companies; those who rise up and those who fall. The ones who do not change with the times, don't adapt, lack heart will lose their share of the market quickly. The former chairman left behind some tall orders, with innovation being right at the top of the list. Chairman Tu is embarking his term by setting an example. Specific to the woodworking machine sector in Taiwan, around 80% of companies have taken heavy hits. Most of them are small to mid-sized operations and many need guidance. So, as the spotlight of the industry shines on his company, what Cheng Kuang is doing is focusing their activity on R&D. As others in the industry witness the emergence of their new machines, they will experience an impetus to come out with their own. "Survival is one thing," proclaims Tu. "Prosperity is another!" This new chairman is a man with a mission, and he's got the vigor and hands on experience with Bill to bring the industry to new heights. Reclaiming the Rank ********************** For years Taiwan the woodworking machine industry ranked 3rd globally for export volume. It was something to be proud of and the rank was well deserved. Italy and Germany are the hands-down leaders with no contention. Taiwan offered machinery with the right degree of performance and quality with price tags that people could afford. How is it that China has bumped Taiwan off the grid to fourth? Reverse engineering, economic strife, lax copyright law enforcement, buyers with limited budgets... "There are a lot of reasons," he says, "But I believe that things are going to turn around. Taiwanese factory bosses are very smart. As markets revolve, most of them know they have to flex with the times. Already we have many companies delving more into both education and R&D. At the next INTERWOOD exhibition, buyers can expect to see many new and innovative machines, and I expect Taiwan to reclaim its rank of third in the world for export in coming years." What more is there that can be done in order to ensure that this is achieved? We asked. "Lots!" says Tu. "Bill managed to get four hundred thousand per year in government subsidies for the industry, and we believe we can increase that figure substantially. My team and I are putting together various detailed project outlines. We've got to strengthen the relations that Bill helped establish with the central government. Taiwan has already earned significant recognition with its government as well as the woodworking industry worldwide, and I believe that as we strengthen our service relations with the clients, those who gave China a shot and found disappointment will resume their dealings with us because they know that we value them." Goals for the Future ********************* Bill Hung left behind some pretty tough guidelines, which Chairman Tu explained a bit about. He said that now the government will pay for 18 association members to earn their Master's degrees from Chaoyang University of Technology, so that when they re-enter the industry they bring heightened levels of credentials and expertise. "We are also bringing in numerous renowned professors to assist the industry with lectures and professional journals pertinent to the woodworking industry." This information will help manufacturers assess the future needs of woodworking factories and design machinery to better meet them. He also reminds the industry as a whole to continue to delve deeper into the following five activities: Re-vamp the internal structure of the company so that production can spring back effectively when orders do come in; use the down time to delve deeper into R&D; provide educational training to staff; expand facilities; and invest more into CRM or, Customer Relations Management. "After-sales service is vital. The client needs to know that you are there to help if they need you, and that their relationship with you is a lifelong thing." Already, the industry has seen lots of both vertical and horizontal integration as well as company mergers, something the former chairman is a big advocate of. "Companies are lowering costs through outsourcing, specializing more, working together and broadening product ranges," he says. "As companies learn to work together their chances of sharing larger markets in the future are increasing." Amped up and Focused ************************** Chairman Tu is excited about the future. "A lot stands to be gained from the symposiums we are setting up. We expect excellent results in the progress of our technology. Soon there will be lots of scholarly journals regarding woodworking and related management techniques available on-line. Resources like this are invaluable to the industry." Cheng Kuang has just built a new factory to accommodate the production of its new fleet of machinery, and Chairman Tu sees this as a growing trend. In the new office there is also a new chair on which he sits. "This is the same chair that President Ma sits on," claims Tu. "Before he became president he sat on a stool as interpreter between foreign delegates and President Chen. Now he sits on the big chair. When I became chairman, I decided to go out and get a chair just like his!" His closing comments came out in Chinese, which translate roughly like this: "Our association members have always known to keep working hard. Now we see them working smarter. We'll get our rank back!"
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