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Officials back from China junket
Tue, 09/02/2008 - 3:54pm
By: John Munford
PTC city manager, mayor get China tour, courtesy of Sany Corp., new tenant in city’s industrial park
Peachtree City’s mayor and city manager recently returned from an eight-day trip to China hosted by Sany Corporation, the company that’s building a new factory in the city’s industrial park.
Mayor Harold Logsdon said he and City Manager Bernie McMullen gained an appreciation for how Sany conducts its heavy equipment construction business while also learning about Chinese culture.
The city paid for Logsdon and McMullen’s coach-class airfare — $2,844 each, roundtrip — to China while Sany paid for lodging, food and entertainment, Logsdon said. Also on the trip were acting County Administrator Jack Krakeel and County Commission Chairman Jack Smith.
The local officials toured the Sany headquarters and several production plants in Beijing, Changsha and Shanghai. They met with the president and other executives of the company, and Logsdon said he was blown away by the sheer size of Sany’s operations there.
The company is also developing a new 800 acre site in Beijing, where a view of the city’s skyline from above showed 17 different foundations underway for “very significant” skyscrapers, Logsdon said.
They also learned of the frustration Sany has experienced in dealing with governmental bureaucracy in the United States, Logsdon said, noting that the vice president in charge of the Peachtree City construction is under a lot of pressure from the company.
Logsdon said the trip was necessary to encourage future business between Chinese companies and Peachtree City, to potentially encourage either an expansion of Sany’s operations here or perhaps lure another similar company to locate here.
“We’re trying to create jobs in Peachtree City and this cannot hurt that effort,” Logsdon said.
Coincidentally, Thursday night the City Council is slated to vote on three wetland buffer variances Sany needs for construction of its 623,000-square-foot development on a 228-acre site in the city’s industrial park.
The staff recommendation is to approve the variances conditioned on approval coming from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
Logsdon said he was unaware how much Sany spent on the trip, but he didn’t feel compelled to recuse himself from voting on the buffer variance or any future request from Sany.
At the corporate headquarters in Changsha, the Fayette contingent was given a full tour of the production line from beginning to end, Logsdon said. And even “after” the end if you include the look they got at Sany’s quality control process.
In Peachtree City Sany will assemble its concrete pumper trucks, capable of pumping concrete thousands of feet into the air for high-rise construction and other applications. The assembly of each truck takes place after the order is made, making each order fully customizable. The company also expects to have a customer service operation in the U.S. that will also be headquartered in Peachtree City.
Logsdon said Sany uses U.S.-built engines in its products. He also noted that Sany is so in tune with its customers needs that if they wanted, say a Caterpillar brand engine installed in the equipment, they would do it to keep the customer happy.
Logsdon said seeing Sany operate in China showed some changes the company will have to make when they manufacture in the U.S., such as the wearing of helmets in certain areas of the plant, which in the U.S. is regulated by the Federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
Logsdon said the Fayette officials were shown how Sany tests their concrete pumper trucks. The trucks do not need to have their booms fully extended vertically during the process, he said.
“That relieves a lot of our concerns,” Logsdon said.
Logsdon said the Fayette contingent also came back with an appreciation for China’s culture and history, which will be important as Sany employees come to live in Peachtree City.
“It was a trip well worth the time and money we spent,” Logsdon said.
Though the city paid for the airfare, Logsdon said he personally paid to upgrade his ticket to business class.
Logsdon said the trip was no different than Fayette’s top economic development official making a visit to Sany.
“We want the Chinese as our friend, and this is a time to build that relationship with their emerging economy,” Logsdon said.
Likewise, it’s important to Sany to start up their American operation in Peachtree City to provide service to their customers here in the U.S., Logsdon said.
Logsdon said the hope is that Sany will have a good experience in Peachtree City so when another Chinese company decides to start operations in the U.S., the Sany leaders will recommend coming to Peachtree City.login to post comments