Poorly Made in China: An Insider's Account of the Tactics Behind China's Production Game
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It was a world gone wrong, one in which manufacturers thought little of manipulating product quality levels in order to save the smallest amounts, where savvy foreign business leaders were made to feel in control while they were taken for a ride by their partners, where entire manufacturing facilities sometimes vanished right into thin air... Welcome to Poorly Made in China!
At the height of the boom export manufacturing, Paul Midler returned to East Asia, a recently graduated Wharton MBA. In the right place at the right time, he was sought out by a number of foreign companies who wanted help in navigating the new economy. The adventures came fast, as did the business and cultural lessons.
Poorly Made in China is a dramatic romp through China's export manufacturing sector, one that reveals what really goes on behind the scenes. The story follows the author from one project to the next, taking the reader through a diverse set of industries and revealing a number of challenges. An engaging business narrative told with doses of humor and insight, this true story pulls back the curtain on the rising Chinese economy, providing a closer look at the rough-and-tumble environment in which so many of our consumer products are being made. For those trying to make sense of why so many quality failures could come out of China at once, this book is an especially interesting read.
Poorly Made in China is the tale of a modern-day gold rush and its consequences, the chronicling of a rising economic power and its path along a steep growth curve. Entertaining and eye-opening, the book highlights the extent to which culture affects business dealings, and the ultimate suggestion is that we may have more to be concerned about than product failures alone.
those agents who had previously sourced merchandise for them. Others were coming from completely unrelated industries. Many were leaving professional careers to jump into the trade game. To do business in China required no special business license or certification. China manufacturing required no tests or qualifications, and traders were arriving—and often staying—on simple tourist visas that could be extended without difficulty. Thousands of newcomers were turning up at events like the Canton
success, he declared, and then he remarked how he was surprised that everything had gone so smoothly. In the end, the factory had given him nearly everything he had asked for. “My wife isn’t going to believe it,” he said. Bernie told me about his family, about his children who were grown, and about one of his sons who was also working with him in the business. While we drank, Bernie began to scribble out numbers on a notepad that he had pulled out of a bag. He looked at his notes and adjusted his
near the factory in the countryside. When it was getting close to the time for me to head back, I asked about my ride. Sister said that her driver was indisposed. “What about one of the delivery drivers then?” I asked. “They have things to do,” she said. “We are very busy.” I saw two delivery trucks parked in the lot out front. Even if the drivers were busy, there was usually someone coming or going who would offer to give me a lift into town. I had been to the factory many times, but this was
P2: ABC c15 JWBT075/Midler March 29, 2009 14:19 Printer Name: Courier Westford, Westford, MA Lucky Diamonds Our meeting turned into a history lesson, with Saul explaining how his family had gotten into the diamond business. As a young man, his late father had been sent from South Africa with an assortment of stones for markets in Europe and asked to discover what prices they might fetch there. Saul spoke of the senior Plotnick not so much in the manner of a son recalling a deceased father,
button. The factory had conveniently forgot to subtract the cost of the older, cheaper buttons that had been replaced. The importer who told me this story said that when the fact was pointed out, his supplier simply went: “Huh?” as if he had no clue what was being suggested. Chinese factory owners looked for small excuses as a way of gaining minor advantages. However when there were real, substantive changes in the marketplace, these same factories found the will to keep their prices firm. The