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.


Kri Kri said...

Well put, Richard!
Our world is not black and white and China certainly has its grey zones! It is important to accept the changing world. I can see the good that western work has brought to the east. It is very inspiring and heart warming to meet people who are excited about working hard, motivated to create a better life and thankful for the opportunities to do so. Even though I know there are plenty of evils in the Chinese system, Point 65 business in China is a positive force on a small scale. People to people is a great way to improve life on our planet despite everything else.
Happy travels in China!

David H. Johnston said...

Great Article. I posted a comment about it on my website here.

Best regards,

David H. Johnston