Hangzhou Fangyuan Plastics Machinery Co. Ltd., a Chinese supplier of expandable polystyrene industry equipment, recently tripled its capacity and plans technology upgrades to boost exports to North America and Western Europe.
Fangyuan, which claims to be the largest EPS equipment supplier in China, said its 30 million yuan ($3.9 million) upgrade last year and technical certifications the firm seeks now will help it increase sales to other countries.
The Hangzhou-based company said it has been making a concentrated effort to sell abroad over the past three years.
Fangyuan sold very few machines outside China before 2004. Now exports account for about 45 percent of Fangyuan's 150 million yuan ($19.5 million) in annual sales, according to Ricky Wu, a representative of the firm's export sales department. He spoke in an April 20 interview at the China Import and Export Fair in Guangzhou, better known as the Canton Fair.
``Three years ago we did not have any machines in the world,'' Wu said. ``Now, we have machines in 55 countries.''
The Middle East is the business's biggest overseas market, followed by Southeast Asia, Wu said. Fangyuan is looking very aggressively at Eastern Europe, and pursuing safety certification from Underwriters Laboratories Inc., a must for selling into the U.S., he added. The company currently has CE certification for Europe.
Fangyuan promotional material claims the firm holds 35 percent of the domestic Chinese market for EPS machinery. At its Hangzhou factory, where it employs 500, Fangyuan makes about 1,000 machines a year - including shape and block molding machines, equipment for making EPS insulation sheets, cutters and recycling equipment.
Wu said the privately owned company makes midrange machines and, he said, while its equipment is not as high-tech as the best suppliers in developed markets like Western Europe, the business sees its ``China price'' as the selling point.
``When we show our machines to the world, the price is acceptable and reasonable and the technology is good. The price is much cheaper than Europe. That is why we are successful,'' Wu said.
The company is pursuing technology to make fully automatic machines, which are not in great demand in many of its current, lower-cost markets, Wu said. Food and electronics packaging and construction form the major markets for its equipment.
He said entrepreneur Yuan Guo Qing started Fangyuan 20 years ago. The firm also has launched a division to help manufacturers source in China, called Hangzhou Fangyuan Global Trading Co. Ltd.