In his fourth year in China, Mark Moss, Asia president for hot-runner supplier Synventive Molding Solutions Inc., continues to expand the company's Asia base in Suzhou, and feels the Chinese tooling industry is still full of momentum.
``I haven't seen any migration away from China in the tooling industry,'' he said in an interview at Chinaplas, held April 17-20 in Shanghai. ``More and more Western companies are coming to China to source tools.''
Synventive, with two more production bases - in Bensheim, Germany, and at its headquarters Peabody, Mass. - saw its Suzhou branch's sales rise 40 percent in 2007. He said the growth will continue.
The Suzhou facility currently is completing an office expansion, and the company plans to move the entire operation to a nearby, larger facility by the end of 2009. ``We'll also add some new equipment in the next few months.''
To meet the rising demand for higher-quality products by the Chinese manufacturing community, Synventive will launch a research and development department in Suzhou later this year. In addition, the firm plans to open a sales office in South Korea this year to accommodate the Korean molding industry, especially auto suppliers.
``We notice that more automotive design is being done in Asia,'' Moss said, as suppliers and auto makers are looking at global platforms.
While the fastest growth still comes from the auto industry, Synventive also is tapping China's electronics sector.
``Asia is the center of producing electronics,'' Moss said. Auto and electronics, respectively, represent 40 percent and 15 percent of Synventive Suzhou's sales.
Despite the rapid and sustained growth, the current business environment also presents challenges to Synventive China. Under the new labor contract law, which requires generous compensation for overtime, companies are less likely to have employees put in more hours. That, in Moss' opinion, is not the choice of workers.
``We've been busy and had very low turnover. Our workers are willing to work,'' he said.
To support the growth and to make up for reduced overtime work, Synventive has to hire more workers. But that requires training and it becomes a longer process, he said. ``We just have to plan ahead now,'' Moss said.
Synventive's China workforce has doubled from last year, to its current total of 145.
Pressure also comes from the raw material side. The price of steel has jumped 30 percent in the past six months. In response, Synventive is making every effort to increase efficiency and local sourcing, Moss said.