Thursday, April 30, 2009

China Boys

When Sandy Levin, the founder and CEO of Import Traders, made his first trip to China in the very early ‘70s, he didn’t know the name of the hotel he’d be staying it – the Chinese wouldn’t tell him ‘til he got there.

“It was a totally different society…everyone carried Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book in their pocket and it was full of sayings, mostly anti-entrepreneurial, anti-American and anti-the-rest-of-the-world.”

One satisfaction of crafting fresh, contemporary copy for the revamped
Import Traders website has been talking to Levin, who was also one of just 40 Americans invited to the ’74 Canton Fair. Another has been working with Barrett-Wehlmann, Import Traders’ Houston-based marcomms agency, as it developed the new company site.

Even today, it’s no simple matter for many American manufacturers who don’t have offices in China to have products sourced and manufactured there – then shipped over to the US for distribution and sale. So Import Traders has been building and maintaining relationships with factories in China for decades.

Having done business in developing areas of Eastern Europe, I knew going in that reliability is a key issue. Import Traders has solved that two ways. One, the company really does know the Chinese very well. And two, Import Traders guarantees the manufactures to its US customers’ satisfaction…pretty bold for a “simple middleman.”

Import Traders is more than a middleman. That made the difference clear enough for anyone (even me). Here’s a company that has solved a big problem in overseas manufacturing: The question of trust.

Since part of this assignment was to talk with satisfied Import Traders customers here in the US, I also had the chance to discuss specific challenges with manufacturing engineers, marketers and inventors...I had a chance to learn even more. Chinese manufacturing is not just for tchotchkes any more…hasn’t been for years. (That’s “trinkets,” in case your Yiddish isn’t working today.)

There’s still a save-you-money angle. But the real issue is trustworthiness. I think that’s what the website and the content convey, whether prospects are trying to source and produce picture frames or printed circuit boards.

So thanks to the “China Boys” at Barrett-Wehlmann for letting me work on this site, now a very effective combination of business-like and attractive. That’d be Carl Glatzel on art direction and Darrell Wehlmann on web build and search engine optimization. The Creative Director is James Grantham; the Management Super is Bill Barrett.

And thanks to Levin for the great conversation, too.

1 comment:

James Grantham said...

Good work. Enjoyed looking at your blog. It’s always nice working with you. Regards...