January 28, 2007

Supply Chain

Went to visit/audit a few of our suppliers due to some potential quality issues which had escalated to the end-customer. Drove down to the big industrial area in Jongli about 40 minutes away from Taipei. It's a mixture of big industrial parks and small, almost ramshackle buildings scattered amongst rice paddies, evidence of the rapidly haphazard industrialization in post-war Taiwan. There were grumblings about the EPA, which is probably a good thing, considering the history of the area.

Our application is considered low-volume and specialized enough that small, technology-driven Taiwan-based suppliers are still the best sources, not that we didn't try to source from mainland China companies, with unsatisfactory results. Despite the complaints of cut-throat costs, having to import foreign workers, and offshoring customers, the undistinguished middle-aged bosses with the smoke or bing-lan stained teeth are still wearing gold watches with shiny diamonds and driving Benzes (AMGs, even). There's still something to be said and something to be made from getting your hands dirty and making something, so long as they're not dumping the junk into the nearby streams. A bubbling nickel-plating tank looks like something straight out of a sci-fi nightmare and doesn't smell much better.

Hey, at least now I know what's going on down there when I look out the airplane window on the final descent toward Taoyuan Airport. We'll have to steer the customers to the nicer-looking factories, though.

Posted by mikewang on 09:19 PM