Jiangyin-Venture Interior Systems Co. is expanding to accommodate two customers, Shanghai Volkswagen and Shanghai General Motors.
Jiangyin-Venture will supply plastic instrument-panel consoles to the Skoda Octavia and to Shanghai GM's 710. The Octavia launches in June, and the 710 in April.
Jiangyin-Venture is a 4-year-old joint venture between Jiangyin Plastic Mold Group, China's largest bumper supplier, and Venture Global Engineering LLC of Detroit.
Jiangyin-Venture includes facilities and a tooling shop from Jiangyin, and technical expertise and polyurethane spray technology from Venture. The partnership also does injection molding, with Haitian and Milacron presses. The PU spray units are imported from the United States and Germany.
In 2001, Cherry Chu, now vice president of Jiangyin-Venture, represented Venture Global Engineering at an Australian government-sponsored business tour, where she met representatives of the Jiangyin plastics group.
``Jiangyin already had some experience in automotive and had some [contacts],'' Chu said.
Venture was looking for a partner because global auto manufacturers in China had stopped exporting interior parts and begun to source from low-cost countries like South Korea and Taiwan. Jiangyin realized it needed better technology to win automotive business from multinational customers.
Venture engineers and technicians from the United States and Australia helped transform Jiangyin's tooling department. In 2003, it had 50 staffers and accounted for sales of $1 million. Now it employs 300 and last year did sales of $10 million.
Chu said the company's technology requires skilled operators, whom she says are in short supply in China. Jiangyin-Venture plans to add 50 production workers by June. By then the company will have three production lines operating: two in its plant in Jiangsu province and one in the Shanghai facility.
``There are people with only two to three years of experience and you have to put them in the ocean and really they can only swim in the swimming pool,'' Chu said of the available labor force.
The company also produces instrument-panel consoles for Shenyang Brilliance Jinbei Automotive Co.'s Zunchi model.
The tooling department's ultimate test came in 2005 with the bid to supply the Octavia. Jiangyin-Venture's tooling engineers completed the project on time and at about 50 percent cheaper than European toolmakers. Chu said European toolmakers quoted the project at about $1 million.