A View to the Future: TWMA's new chairman shares his activities
Mr. Bae, Shyr-tsong, president of CHIA CHUNG MACHINERY, has been running his company since 1989. They manufacture woodworking equipment like radial arm saws, carbide tip tool grinders and automatic feeders which are shipped all over the world. Since his recent inauguration as the new chairman of the Taiwan Woodworking Machinery Association, Mr. Bae has been a very busy man. Fortunately for us here at interwood, he found the time to let us visit him for an interview.
Q: Congratulations, Mr. Bae How does it feel to be the new chairman?
A: Thank you. For me this is an absolute honor. For over thirty years, TWMA has made tremendous strides in promoting Taiwanese woodworking machinery all over the world. I look at the sacrifices and accomplishments of our past TWMA leaders with great reverence. They laid down the tracks of success for our industry and helped establish Taiwan's distinctive global position in the realm of woodworking. In a sense I feel daunted, yet my strongest feeling is one of motivation.
Q: Daunted. Are you referring to the global economic recession?
A: That's part of it. We have major markets in Europe and the USA. Both regions face major fiscal challenges in recent times and that has a direct impact on the export volume of our member companies. Here in Taiwan there is a growing unemployment rate amidst rising inflation along with weak investment, low consumer consumption and sluggish export volume. Many companies are anxious amidst all this uncertainty. Part of my job is to provide them with direction and encouragement.
Q: Your term is set to last three years. What sort of goals do you expect to help TWMA accomplish?
A: During this period it is critical for our members to develop sustainable ways to survive. We will be working on this in a number of ways.
Q: We understand that the "W-Team" is set to play a key role towards this end. Can you shed some light on what the W-Team is about?
A: It's all about how to "win". The forefathers of our industry brought Taiwan to rank third in the world for export volume. They built a winning industry out of virtually nothing during their careers. Now Taiwan has dropped to rank fourth, but I believe that we can win back our formerly hard-earned rank. The W-Team was set up to help our members attain more government subsidization as well as help enhance their technical innovation.
Q: What activities towards innovation advancement are underway?
A: Basically, the W-Team has set up an R&D center. Member companies who wish to benefit from technical advancements achieved at the center have the right to apply the new technology to their own products. They earn this right through investment or contributing equipment and technicians. We believe that promoting teamwork amongst out members rather than competition is more likely to strengthen Taiwan's prowess on a global scale.
Q: We understand that China currently holds the rank of third for global export volume, but that there are issues about reverse engineering and after sales service that are rampant over there.
A: There's not much we can do about reverse engineering. But we can stay ahead on technology if we stick together, and our key focus is on developing heightened levels of service quality. So we are strengthening education and training services for our members in order to ensure that they have the most modern company management and operational skills, as well as all the other necessary abilities required to maintain top quality global service that their clients can count on.
Q: Many of the original factory owners are retiring these days. How do you view their successors?
A: They certainly enter the industry with well established momentum, but as global demand evolves, so must they. This is why we are developing the educational services I just mentioned. I believe that already, we are cultivating a workforce with heightened critical thinking levels. Original thinking is what we are working towards, and that is what we need to build more momentum behind our enterprises.
Q: The Taiwan International Woodworking Machinery Show is coming up soon. What words of encouragement might you have for woodworking machinery manufacturers in Taiwan?
A: Develop your own brand names! Branding or rebranding is one important thing to do in order to strengthen their international images, as well as enhance their competitiveness. Through branding, our companies will discover new prospects and success that they have already worked so hard to deserve.
As we walked across the CHIA CHUNG factory floor located in Houli on the outskirts of Taichung in central Taiwan, we got a good look at some of the equipment the state of the art factory produces. Anyone with a passion for woodworking would salivate. In general, Chairman Bae expressed how he spends a lot of time communicating with TWMA's member companies to find out what challenges they face individually, and helping them discover the benefits they have access to through the services of TWMA, the government and related agencies. His humility, wisdom and dedication to the industry he is a part of combine to depict why Mr. Bae, Shyr-tsong was elected to lead the industry away from murky times, towards better ones.