In 2006, we embarked upon serious discussions with Jiawen Wu, who held the dual roles of our Asian Regional Sales Manager and our Distributor in China, to take on a new role and to begin assembling our single screw compressor units in China, as a licensee.
Jiawen took me on a tour of the manufacturing/assembly facility to be rented, which was owned by a heat exchanger supplier and built with the backing of the Chinese government. I marvelled at the empty expanse of bricks and mortar the government had sponsored and thought of the line from the movie “Field of Dreams”, “Build it and they will come.” This was the antithesis of capital investment in companies I had served, wherein a detailed justification and rate of return analysis were reviewed with vigour.
Our first major project in this new business model was for the first facility that Hershey Chocolate built in China. For that project we built pressure vessels in China, to Chinese SQL code requirements, shipped them back to Cudahy, added our screw compressor packaging to them, and then shipped the packages back to China for Jiawen’s team to combine with other refrigeration equipment and to install the system. It required a horrendous and massive movement of materials that, though Hershey was willing to pay for, was unprecedented. I clearly recall the risk and the necessity to overcome the scepticism involved in pulling it off. The Hershey project, with numerous heroes and contributors in both Cudahy and Shanghai, was a success. Hershey’s, as they described to me in a follow-up visit, was very happy with the compressors, the system and the efforts of Jiawen’s team.
As Jiawen’s team began to learn to build screw compressors, our Operations, Quality, Engineering and Service personnel all made separate and numerous trips to China to support this activity. Likewise, Jiawen’s team spent considerable time in Cudahy, learning the business.
Eight years later…
Last week, as pictured at the beginning of these paragraphs, our Industrial Refrigeration leader in Asia, Dave Bersaglini (who spent a couple of years at Vilter), the President of Emerson Climate Technologies – Refrigeration, John Rhodes, Jiawen Wu, Matt Toone and Gregg Berres all visited Jiawen’s latest installation at Yili Dairy in China. The installation is massive (21-large screw compressors) and complex, involving integration with an Emerson DeltaV control system. The quantity of ice cream to be produced at this facility is awe inspiring.
Jiawen’s team has taken the hard-earned industrial refrigeration system knowledge that they have developed and worked hard to transfer it to code that is embedded within the plant-wide Emerson control system at Yili. At some point, to the benefit of our key allies, the Vilter Distributors, and the food and beverage community, the broadened plant-wide process control capability of Emerson’s that we have linked to can be built upon and utilized in the US and other markets, following the example set in China.
For us, the venture in China, which has led to our acquisition of Jiawen’s business (Emerson Climate Technologies – Shanghai) has generated more work in Cudahy as we build more and more bare shaft compressors for our Shanghai-based business. The business has grown and thrived, employing more than 40 people. Along with other international business our business in China has enabled us to balance down cycles in the US market (GDP down 1% in 2014 Q1) with stronger export markets (China GDP up 7.4% in 2014 Q1).
Importantly, our efforts in China have enabled us to establish a meaningful foothold there and the relationships and friendships we have built with Jiawen and his team are highly treasured.
On a daily basis, we still struggle with the immediate demands of our global business but when one looks back one can marvel at how far we have come. With such a perspective, we can buckle down, apply our energies and see how much further we can go.
- Mark Stencel
Vice - President & General Manager