Interview with General Manager Jason Wang of Anderson Technology Co., Ltd.
During the IWF 2014 show, Anderson Group announced the acquisition Giben Brazil Company. Since its inception in 1972, Anderson has become a global enterprise. interwood Magazine was pleased to have an interview with general manager Jason Wang of Anderson, as he shared with us some of the company's experience.
From Cooperation to Acquisition
Mr. Wang explained that the strategy behind the initial cooperative relationship between the two companies was to learn to understand each other mutually. Particularly important was to work out how both companies could operate in the market without any competitive conflicts. Back in the day, an Italian company called Giben was the pioneer of panel processing machinery. They became the leaders of the industry. But since economic woes began in 2008 the company started to decline due to competition from other NC machinery manufacturers. In 2009, Anderson and Giben made a strategic alliance, merged and eventually in 2014, Anderson acquired Giben's operations in the United States and Brazil. As Anderson began to integrate Giben's panel processing technology with its own strengths in CNC machinery, they began to expand their share of the market. Previously, Gibon started with production of stand-alone machine sales, which evolved into simple and flexible production planning and design. Adding software functionality provided customers with entire line solutions and service. Furthermore, Giben is the first European company to enter the Brazilian market. With thirty years of accumulated sales its customer base has grown quite expansive, which is undoubtedly a big help for Anderson to quickly enter the South American market. From the pre-merger market days, to post-merger integration with Giben, Anderson has achieved "Great Leap Forward" in the re-evolution of its product lines.
With management expansion after the merger, so grew the globalization of Anderson's enterprises. Mr. Wang said the company has gained considerable experience. After the acquisition, Anderson started with a new management plan. The first step was to integrate their Taiwan-based raw material management system with operations in Brazil, and send advisors to counsel and unify management techniques. The second step was the training of personnel in operations and services. The Anderson group does not change due to mergers and acquisitions, only its management of integration.
Anderson already has R & D teams in Taiwan, Germany and China, but important core technology stays in Taiwan. The other local RD teams specialize in specific, separate areas of technology.
Confusion Between Small and Medium Enterprises
Taiwanese woodworking machinery companies are mostly small and medium sized enterprises. As a global business enterprise, we asked Mr. Wang how he looks upon the development prospects of Taiwan's Woodworking machinery on a world-wide scale. Facing issues like global competition and tariffs, Mr. Wang suggested that companies must identify the differences between themselves. Differentiation is very important. In other words, finding a niche is the thing to do. In regards to the merging of Taiwanese companies, he mentioned it is time to focus on letting down one's guard to protect one's share of the market and be more willing to cooperate on a larger scale. What should operators' philosophy be? If they are confident in the quality of their product, but understand there are difficulties ahead, they should open their minds to the advantages of integration. Do not only focus on competing with China. If one thinks on a macro scale and sets goals to compete with Europe and America, naturally someone beside China will come to compete with you. Taiwanese companies should be thinking about competing on a global scale.
Government and Association Help
TWMA recommended that Anderson attend an event held by the Ministry of Economic Affairs in July of 2014 called the Outstanding Image Award. Winners of this award receive subsidies from the government to expand on a global scale. Mr. Wang humbly said that being nominated for or even winning the award is not the thing to focus on. Respecting the award and what it means is the point. Regarding the issue of how the government can help businesses, Mr. Wang suggested that the government should help open up the market; some problems can't be solved without the government's help. There are many examples like free trade that the government can help with. Taiwan people do not feel the short-term impact of decreasing technical laborers, but in the long term it will be a big problem. As for government support, it has usually given more subsidies to high-tech industries of mass production and relatively less resources to help traditional enterprises. As for TWMA support, Mr. Wang acknowledged that TWMA has supported association members with trade missions and exhibition subsidies. However, if TWMA really wants to provide core help, they will need to put forth more effort and study. For example, if we want to invest in new markets such as Brazil, can they set up research teams to gather and provide market information in those areas. When we think on a macro scale and global competitiveness, the combined technical abilities and leadership of companies working together as a team are the powers that will allow us to achieve our goals.
Changes in the Market
Overall market demand is still increasing, but the market demand has changed. Consumer mindset has changed and this is now a generation that needs flexible small batch, high variety production. Mr. Wang mentioned that the market was focused on mass production lines, but now it's about the concept of personalization. It's about providing personalized products for about the same prices. Companies that mass produce but aren't flexible cannot meet this demand. Small and medium sized enterprises have opportunity here. Therefore, based on changes in the market, machines need to be designed to provide solutions, such as flexible computer settings that allow the ability to produce a variety of product specifications on a single line. That should be their response to changes in market trends.
About the U.S. Market
As for the market in the United States next year Mr. Wang has boomingly optimistic thoughts. Visiting the exhibition in Atlanta he could feel the trend in local market investment has accelerate. Plus, bank loans to the wood industry have grown, encouraging experts to predict the future market will boom. Mr. Wang thinks than previous Chinese manufacturing advantages have begun to disappear. This year there were many less Chinese exhibitors. Americans are wary of Chinese quality, while Taiwanese Machinery over the past few years can be said to have alleviate those concerns.
Future Market Layout
Talking about emerging markets, Mr. Wang said that facing mature and emerging markets will require different coping strategies. High-end products in emerging markets will have a lower priority. Emerging markets such as South America, India, Indonesia and Vietnam will see a rise in mid-range quality product demand. Anderson's current situation in Vietnam is good, the South American market just getting started. There is space in India, and they still have Indonesia to enter. For now, Anderson will target the visible results of each market, especially in South America.
In addition to wood, Anderson's tentacles are reaching out to other industries. NC products in recent years began to shift to other composite materials, particularly the United States market, such as metal, foam and aluminum alloy. In the woodworking machinery industry, Homag is the main leader for high-end products across the world. The company is the largest woodworking machinery conglomerate worldwide. Anderson chose not to try and compete with them, rather to promote different types of high-end products involving other industries. There is a cycle of ups and downs in industries. So when one industry is weak, Anderson has other materials it can balance the industry with. Having branched out to other industries makes management more difficult. But this diversification makes the company relatively impervious to market fluctuations.
Things don't just happen overnight. Mr. Wang feels that the image of Anderson in the market will take time. In addition to advertising, attending exhibitions and maintaining steady business are some of the key components in the cumulative visibility and value of his business.
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