In a prior life, long ago and far away in 2011, when I dropped that envelope into the mail box I knew it was real. The address on the label was a Chinese Visa Processing Center in Houston, Texas and this Florida Boy was actually going to the 2012 LED China trade show in the city of Guangzhou. After the trade show the plan was to visit our LED sign manufacturer in Shenzhen.
Doing business directly with a Chinese LED sign supplier is an adventure of astounding proportions. Since this is the 21st Century, by my calendar, it’s obviously impossible to visit the early days of the California Gold Rush. But, my imagination can take me there and it had to be like doing business with a Chinese LED sign supplier.
First you have to get there. “There” is only 9,500 miles away from Pensacola, Florida and would require flying to New York City, then on to Anchorage, Alaska, to Taipei, Taiwan, then to Hong Kong. You cross the border into China and find some way to get to your destination. We were doing the trip “on the cheap” so we rode a train. It was a great social experience but unless you want to drink warm Tsingtao beer on a crowded train for 3 hours. I’d recommend taking a direct flight!
The trade show, LED China, was amazing. Every aspect associated with an LED lamp was on display. You could talk to every Chinese manufacturer of LED signs, and see products on display from LED snowmen for your front yard to the most leading-edge LED applications you could only dream of! It was an awakening to the true scope and enormity of the LED industry that we are a subset of!
But alas, the glitz and glamor of the trip was behind us and we took the train back down to Shenzhen to meet our Chinese project manager contact who had always been our primary “face” of the company we purchased from. A nice enough fellow, with Americanized language and habits he was, and he picked us up from the lobby of the Marco Polo Hotel near the train station.
Actually it was his “Girl Friday” who found us, sipping yet another Tsingtao (this time ice cold) in the lobby of the upscale hotel, and she ushered us to his waiting car. The city of Shenzhen was a welcome sight- modern, clean, with a great transportation infrastructure and the persistent air quality problems found in Guangzhou were not to be seen. The air was so bad in Guangzhou that there was actually a creosote-smelling film on the interior of the lobby windows. This was not the case in Shenzhen, a modern city, the first Special Economic Zone in China. It had exploded into a modern city of 10 million people, from the previous rice paddies, in less than 25 years.
We ate lunch at a local restaurant, tucked away on the second floor of a non-descript building overlooking a busy street, the first authentic Chinese meal we’d had since arriving. After lunch we were whisked off to the “factory”.
Clean, efficient, austere, coordinated, machine intensive, labor intensive and a developing force were my first impressions of the facility. If you wanted it, tell the man what you desired and for a price they would do it!
Would you like?
Your company’s name on each printed circuit board?
Your company’s name and logo on each LED cabinet?
Your choice of cabinet locking mechanisms?
Your choice of controller or computer?
White, gray or black cabinets? Any color you like for extra.