Today is a business day! Our schedule features two company visits: EBW and Baosteel.
The bus ride, which is now part of our daily routine, takes us first to Highkelly Industries. Highkelly is part of the EBW group, founded by a former Albertan hockey player, and headquartered in Calgary. The Walters (father and son) have been working in Shanghai for almost 20 years now. They mainly work in investment and Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) between China and Canada, as well as own a manufacturing company producing pipeline equipment. They gave us a lot of insight about doing business in China, emphasizing again what we had just started to learn, namely the importance of building strong relationships (“guanxi”), the constant necessity for flexibility, patience and face. Their enthusiasm for Asia and the numerous opportunities available there inspired us to learn more about the Chinese culture, which is key to developing a sustainable business in China. Some of us might now more seriously consider doing business with China, perhaps moving there one day.
Proudly covered with our hard hats, we finished the visit by touring the manufacturing plant were we saw a massive partially built oil rig. To top it all off, Highkelly Industries arranged a popular tradition in the Chinese culture: a lunch in a very small village. The road to the village was really beautiful, with ranges of trees along our way and small traditional Chinese houses. The lunch itself was, for us, the best meal of our trip: among others, banana pitas, Kobe beef, pork rice, dumplings… everything was delicious and our hosts made our stay unforgettable!
Our last stop of the day was a visit to Baosteel or “wow” steel as some impressed students would say. Before we toured the production line, we had a tour by bus, and the size of the site really amazed us. Baosteel is a city inside the city, the CEO is even the mayor! It has a zoo, gymnasium, and recreational facilities for the staff. The total area is 8.1 km long and 3.5 km wide. It has the shape of a rectangle in order to facilitate the logistics. It is surprisingly green as 41% of the total land is saved for green space. The production line itself is quite impressive. We were able to see a portion of the process in which liquid steel was cooled, flattened and rolled into massive spools all within a matter of minutes. It turns out that the production pace is currently quite slow, which is evidence of the decreasing demand of steel, and low prices. This was one of the most amazing sights of the trip and we were very grateful to see something like this.
Back in the bus, direction Shanghai and the SAI. It’s time to say goodbye to Pr. Wong, already. Edy had done so much for us this trip including setting us up with a clothing manufacturer. Tonight was the fitting for all of our suits that we had been measured up for 48 hours earlier. Needless to say, our tailor delivered and only a few alterations were necessary. China is quite the place, the ability to deliver low cost products at an impressive rate was evident from EBW to Baosteel to our custom tailor. All in all, this was a day that will stand out in our memories of the 2014 China study tour.