Expert Sanding with Timesavers: Interview with Company President Mr. Gregory K. Larson

Founded in 1946 with more than sixty years of operation and growth, Timesavers has established a strong reputation in the global community of sanding machines.  The company is North America's largest specialist.  We had the pleasure to interview the company's President,  Mr. Gregory K. Larson. He shared with us the company's philosophy, as well as his views on the overall market situation and the woodworking machinery industry. We were delighted to hear what he said about the Taiwanese factories that produce for him!

Not surprisingly, Timesavers' major customers are in North America. A Dutch branch, Timesavers International B.V.  handles other major markets in Europe and Asia. The machines come in a full range of sizes and are designed to process different kinds of materials. A complete range of products is available. In addition to excellent mechanical quality, Timesavers' main competitiveness lies in services, such as a sound team of technicians for technical support, prompt spare part delivery and sound inventory management.  Timesavers undoubtedly leads North America when it comes to service.

Many countries are very concerned about the U.S. market. The woodworking machinery industry is heavily influenced by the American housing market. In recent years it has experienced considerable impact.  Mr. Larson said the U.S. market has been gradually improving. In 2007, market conditions in the United States began a slow decline and in 2008 a severe decline lasted through the whole year.  Basically the economy was on the rocks.  From 2007 to 2009, the market fell by 70%. Recent years have seen a 10% to 20% rise. This trend is considered to be a very good situation, but because of this sharp decline, it will take about fifteen years to reach where half of the level things were in 2006, based on a rate of 15%. Because of amendments to U.S. mortgage rates, a return to the previous rocketing housing boom will be impossible to reach.

Globally speaking, Mr. Larson seems to feel that currently, economic situations in the United States and China are the best.  He had some interesting things to say about future potential markets, he mentioned Japan as an example. He said that when he was a student, imported products from Japan were very cheap.  As their economy developed, prices grew higher.  Now China is also facing the same situation.  Companies will find the most appropriate cost-effective places to produce may end up to be in Africa or Eastern Europe. Another problem Mainland China is now facing is that in the past they did not have environmental regulations, but with the entry of foreign-owned factories, environmental issues presented are causing Chinese factories to pay more for environmentally friendly equipment. This will raise costs.  Wage increases are another factor.  China will no longer be the most suitable environment for foreign companies to invest in and to set up factories. On the other hand, the United States has begun to produce more within its own shores.  Most of production is already moving towards automation, and companies no longer have to seek new production sites abroad.

He also mentioned that Timesavers currently finds it hard to enter the market in South America because of economic factors.  The continuous depreciation of currency, as well as tax issues, make entering the South American market difficult.

He said that Timesavers machinery is produced only in the United States and Taiwan. They had considered producing in China, but problems with patenting and counterfeiting were greatly discouraging. Regarding Taiwan's machinery, Mr. Larson raved about Taiwan's production capability.  He said that there are no quality problems with those who produce sanding machines; yet there are a few technological hurdles to address.  His recommendation to the Taiwanese is to "Live in the market". Mr. Larson encourages them to expand their horizons, and be aware that different markets have different preferences and applications. Having an in-depth understanding of the clients' needs will empower them to adjust their designs to fit a variety of global markets.

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