We've seen a number of our competitors who import coffee machines from Italy and other European countries, making comments about the quality of coffee machines made in China. That would be fine if these comments were factual, but they are not. Old thinking dies a long, slow death it seems and just because 20 years ago, quality issues were associated with Chinese goods (Made in Hong Kong), doesn't mean that today the same blanket description applies.
Think back to the Audi brand - 20 years ago, it wasn't a luxury car at all...and who would've thought Brazil would become the fastest growing mid size passenger jet manufacturer in the world! Brazil? What does a country better known for coffee, sugarcane and the Rio Carnival know about 100 seat passenger plane construction! Then what about the call centre industry in India! You ask, how can this have become so successful when so many are located in the back streets of Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai?
Point is that just as Brazil and India have skills in certain areas and companies renowned for a certain product, so do China and South Africa. Looking at South Africa, we export catalytic converters, manufacture fuel cells (not the lowest technology requirements!) and have one of the most sophisticated banking systems on the planet. Who'd have thought that we were behind "pay-as-you-go" cell phones either? But we were...and so blanket trashing of a country is really ridiculous....I think the World Cup opened some eyes in that regard as far as SA is concerned!
Now talking of opening eyes, we travel to China each year...three or four of us from the company...and that is a huge investment for a small company like Frontier Coffee. Why do we do it? Simple. Just like some of the most successful call centres on the planet are located in buildings in downtown Delhi, so too are some of the worlds best manufacturers located in China. All you have to do is find them.
Hard to believe...but the same factory in China that manufactures Ryobi power tools, manufactures a line of automatic coffee machines! We were there and saw with our own eyes! The same quality control that applies to the angle grinder, and circular saw, applies to the coffee machine! Now who slags off Ryobi?
There are a indeed a whole lot of coffee machines and coffee vending machines that are manufactured in China as a result of joint ventures with European giants. Companies like Bianchi, Brasilia, De Longhi have worked closely with Chinese companies to develop high quality manufacturing in China.
The pay off for the buyer of Sony, Black and Decker, Ryobi, Timberland, Bianchi, De Longhi and 1000s of other well know brands, is price. The tremendous scale of production in China can never be fully understood until you have travelled down highways where for tens of kilometers, all you can see are factories, factories, factories. As far as the eye can see in every direction.
Lower manufacturing costs come from this scale, relatively cheap labour and the proximity of factories that literally produce nearly every component needed. And don't for one minute make the mistake of thinking that quality isn't high on the agenda. Our Barista Caffe coffee machine supplier, recognising that Chinese made high pressure water pumps are not suitable for espresso coffee machine applications, imports their pumps from elsewhere to ensure total machine quality remains high. Our Bianchi supplier does the same
Like I said, not all manufacturers are the same - not just in China, but anywhere in the world. There are unscrupulous manufacturing companies, middlemen and traders everywhere on the planet, but the trick is to find the diamonds among the many. Then work with them and become their exclusive distributor. The proof is in the pudding, and when our technical manager analyses the stats on machine breakdowns per 1000 cups made...guess what...it isn't the Chinese manufactured machines that head the table!
So it's time to look at China differently, to move with the times, and find the diamonds of course!
Source: Frontier Coffee website at http://www.frontiercoffee.co.za"