Sunday, January 27, 2008

Chinese kayaks –what you need to know

I was somewhat taken aback when Nigel Foster e-mailed me a link to a very xenophobic text on Frontenac Outfitters web site (link at the end of this post).
I have heard this type of bigotry once before and my spontaneous reaction was just to ignore it. However, having mulled it over for a few days I wanted to rebut what Frontenac is claiming.

The western world is always talking about helping the developing world. We give a lot of aid to third world countries and talk about helping them to help themselves.

But now, when China and India are rising out of poverty and doing it by competing with us, we start protesting. They have a lot of things going against them. But working hard and at a cost level which is substantially lower than the western works for them.
When talking about low wages in China and India, remember, they are low for western cost levels but not for their local. I have spent a lot of time in China and with our workers there. With food, transportation, housing, clothes etc costing a tenth compared to the west the buying power for an average pay check gives a Chinese worker a highly improved standard of living. With wealth, not poverty, comes democracy, health care etc.
I know that all my friends there, Mr. Jiu, our plug maker, Mr. Wu, the mould maker, Mrs Ying, Mr Chang and all the other laminators would be very disappointed if I told them I could not keep them on. They have moved to better housing. Bought scooters. Taken trips to far away corners of their country. Put their kids in better schools. They go to restaurants and buy clothes they like etc. Frontenac seems to prefer that they walk behind their oxen ploughing the rice paddies barely scraping together to survive?

Interesting to is that western companies are doing fantastic business in China and India selling goods produced in Canada, Sweden, the US etc. Nobody complaining there.

My message to Frontenac Outfitters: Try to be open to other people, their culture, do not be scared, try to give your business not only to the fat cats in the west, but throw a bone to the developing countries to. They need and appreciate it. And I can assure you. Some day not to far away Chinese tourists, like the Japanese 20 years ago, will swell at your shores spending and contributing to your riches. They will start buying more and more of your proud Canadian products. There is enough business to go around.

And Frontenac, I noted that you only buy products made in North America and Canada. So I guess we never had a chance as we produced in Europe before moving to China:-)

As to Point 65. We are proud and happy to have made the leap to producing in China and have always been completely open about it. Through the move we have gained a competitive edge and the opportunity to improve our products. We can put more time and effort into every kayak and thereby offer better products.
And the Chinese are just as dedicated, skilled (and proud of it) as any Canadian, American or Swedish kayak builder. They are also curios about paddling and we are seeing healthy sales developing there thanks to us and others being there. Spreading the paddling spell!
Point 65 is a Swedish company, based in Sweden. But we are an international team. We, the owners, my brother Tomas and I are both Swedish as is Lina (office manager) and Staffan (sales). But Paul (sales) is Dutch, Nigel (R&D) is British, Roger (logistics) is South African and Michael (production manager) is Chinese. Love peace and understanding!
Here the link to Frontenac Outfitters web site.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cooking the books?

In Sweden this week. Another great day as a kayak entrepreneur has passed. I spent it in meetings with our auditor, Eva, one of our independent designers Johan and his auditor, also named Johan checking if royalties have been correctly accounted for. 
I would rather be paddling:-)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Peters Blog

I thought it apropriate to mention that my blog was inspired by Peter at Kajakevents blog. Peter and his business partner Leif run one of the leading paddling stores in Sweden, Kajakevent in Malmö. Despite starting their store only a couple of years back they are Point 65's major cusomers in Sweden. They also arrange a kayak exhibition every year, Kajak & Outdoor in May (this year 17-18th of May) which is becoming a very important event in the Swedish paddling community. Leif and Peter are great guys. Always positive, full of initiatives and energy, suportive and straight shooters. Great news to that Leif will visit me in Shanghai in February to have a look at the factories and have some good times.
Anyway, Peters blog is personal and fun and discribes his adventures as a paddling retailer, showing their business from a human angle. He travels, meets custumers and suppliers. But also goes to concerts and muses about ecological transportation and more. Unfortunatately it's all in Swedish...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Paul -the man of the hour

The south UK market has been something of a white spot on the Point 65 map so I'm very happy that Paul Rosenquist, our international sales executive and UK's Canoe Shops Group founder and MD, Bob Dyer - today closed an agreement for the Canoe Shops Group to distribute the Point 65 line! I have followed the negotiations closely of course but Paul has done an incredible job in making this happen. Tracking down and cornering the very elusive Bob Dyer was a feat in it's self. Here some pics of the Canoe Shops management team trying a bunch of our boats in very grey conditions indeed. It's a mission! Canoe Shops, a UK Paddle-sport retail chain with 7 shops, already has one container sailing next week with multiple containers to follow the weeks to come! By the way, the only picture of the elusive Bob I could get my hands on was him paddling on a Hobie but hey, thats a nice sot!
Thank you Bob for this and congratulations Paul on an incredible sales job!

Ps. I'm trying to get the pictures and text to look neet and tidy but the pics keep sliding out of position. I'm sure I'l get the hang of it. Until then, bear with me...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Point 65 management meeting

I hosted a Point 65 management weekend at my humble Chateau in Loire, France. We took time out from kayaking and between sessions discussing sales strategies, logistics, demo tours, symposiums and exhibitions, went horse back riding!
Talking shop in the library in front of an open fire sure was a lot nicer than in our grotty Stockholm office.
Roger (logistics manager) puffed on his cigar, Tomas (my brother and our distinguished CEO) made a cozy fire in the bed room he shared with Staffan, head of Scandinavian sales.
And yes, we all went riding through the beautiful french countryside. And bizarrely Point 65 had sponsored a local show jumping competition and we all went to see that. Got the VIP treatment and everything with Champagne in the box!

By the Point 65 hurdle, Paul (international sales), Camilla (q.c), Staffan (Scandinavian sales), Tomas (CEO), Roger (Logistics), Lina (office manager). Missing were Nigel (R&D) and Jont (dark horse)

Testpaddling a new boat

My intention with the blog was not to just covering technichal things but it so happens that the first two entries are touching on production and R&D stuff. I guess it's the season for it. Hopefully I will post some real paddling stuff later as I visit symposiums, demo days and other events. Anyway, here some fun pics of my brother and business partner Tomas and our vp for R&D, Nigel Foster, trying the hull of the new Point 65 DoublShot a few months back. The photoshop pic was made by Paul Rosenqvist who works at Point65, mostly in international sales. Very funny!

Yes, it looks like a canoe here, but put a deck on that thing and it's a kayak! And the test? Thumbs up!

Nigel says "the chines offer secondary stability with good tactile feedback about how far you are edging. Paddlers who are familiar with edging can make the Doubleshot turn on a dime... so it offers extra fun possibilities for those who want to add a little spice, yet it’s a comfortably reassuring craft if you want to avoid edging and just cruise with the rudder."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Starting 2008 in China

I kicked of the new year with a semi holiday, semi work vacation in China. Point 65 has a corporate apartment in downtown Shanghai where I stayed with my wife Camilla and our 3 kids, Felix 19, Axel 18 and Axeline 15. it's a great little apartment on the 25th floor of a new, nice building with stunning views over Shanghai. I can tell you that the new years eve fireworks were incredible to watch form above. Most intense fireworks were shot from the Bund and we had a perfect view of that with the fireworks reflecting from all the mirror -window high rices (sky scrapers) around us.As usual production related matters took up more time than I initially thought so our planned paddling excursion to the sunny beaches of Hainan island had to be scrapped.
A good thing though that my wife Camilla is envolved in the company, helping out with R&D, quality and other production related issues. Se we spent a lot of time together although wrestling with plugs, molds and production.
The kids also joined in on the fun, exploring the production facilities, lunching with the workers and helping out a little bit. But honestly, they mostly stayed in town shopping and hanging out. Shanghai is the place for it! Felix, is actually based in Shanghai where he studies Chinese, and helps out with primarily quality control.
So what were we so busy with? Well, a lot of different issues. Our vice president for R & D, Nigel Foster, wanted to make some changes on the Whisky 16 plug, moving some deck fitting recesses around and changing their shape. Camilla was working hard getting the changes done and a new master mold finished. Also the new Double-Shot, also designed by Nigel, needed her attention in deck adjustments to the plug.
We checked on the new building for the rotomolding factory, which will be bigger and better than the present one.
We are also hiring new people at a high rate. I'm responsible for finding an executive assistant to support our Chinese manager, Micheal Gu. We also need a couple of new plug makers and a cad cam engineer.