Fuyao Glass bridges cul­tural di­vide in Ohio

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By HEZI JIANG in Philadel­phia hez­i­jiang@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The 1.6 mil­lion-square-foot fac­tory that used to be a dank and de­serted space — ex­cept for a few rac­coons — is now re­born. Ro­bots trans­port fab­ri­cated glass in a flow­ing rhythm, while men and women, many of whom were un­em­ployed a year ago, busily work three fully up-and-op­er­a­tional pro­duc­tion lines and in­stal­la­tion sta­tions.

Fuyao Glass Amer­ica, the US branch of China’s largest au­to­mo­tive glass maker, is work­ing to­ward its goal for 2016 of achiev­ing full pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity at its first US man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity in Mo­raine, Ohio, and fur­ther seal­ing its cor­po­rate im­age as a global man­u­fac­turer.

It’s been about 20 months since Fuyao took over the va­cant plant aban­doned by Gen­eral Mo­tors years ago. The fac­tory now has 1,300 work­ers — about 700 full-time em­ploy­ees and 600 with part-time jobs that could turn into per­ma­nent ones with ben­e­fits af­ter 90 days.

The fac­tory will em­ploy a to­tal of 1,800 to 2,000 lo­cal work­ers by early next year, said John Gau­thier, pres­i­dent of Fuyao Glass Amer­i­can.

Ohio Gov John Ka­sich, a can­di­date for the 2016 Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion for pres­i­dent, has been highly sup­port­ive and very proud of the project. He met with Cao De­wang, chair­man of Fuyao Glass In­dus­try Group, many times to fi­nal­ize the deal.

On March 11, Ka­sich hosted a town hall at­tended by more than 1,000 lo­cals at the Fuyao fac­tory in ad­vance of the Ohio Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial pri­mary on March 15.

“The whole process has gone smoother than I ex­pected,” said Cao. “Ev­ery Chi­nese from Fuyao has been work­ing re­ally hard. It’s also very im­por­tant that the US sup­port us. Oth­er­wise, it would never be pos­si­ble.”

Apart from 120 Chi­nese work­ers from Fuyao’s Chi­nese fac­to­ries who are run­ning the in­stal­la­tion of Fuyao-de­signed equip­ment and new em­ployee train­ing, every­one was hired in the US, mostly from the Day­ton area. “Our largest chal­lenges lie in the lan­guage bar­rier and cul­tural dif­fer­ences,” Cao said. “We are work­ing on bridg­ing that cul­ture gap. We have to learn a lot of things. For ex­am­ple, Amer­i­can work­ers de­mand a break room, which we never have in our Chi­nese fac­to­ries.”

“We have to lo­cal­ize. We tell our Chi­nese lead­er­ship to re­spect the US man­age­ment team, and help them es­tab­lish cred­i­bil­ity,” he said.

In­clud­ing Gau­thier, four of Fuyao Amer­ica’s top nine man­age­ment ex­ec­u­tives are Amer­i­cans.

Deal­ing with US En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, Oc­cu­pa­tional Safety and Health Ad­min­is­tra­tion and unions are among the chal­lenges Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ers face.

Also, Amer­i­can work­ers are dif­fer­ent from work­ers in China. Many have no ex­pe­ri­ence in auto glass-mak­ing, and they have dif­fer­ent work­ing hours and habits, said Gau­thier.

HEZI JIANG / CHINA DAILY

A worker in­spects parts at Fuyao Glass Amer­ica, the US branch of China’s largest au­to­mo­tive glass maker, on March 29. The com­pany is work­ing to­ward achiev­ing full pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity at its 1.6 mil­lion-square-foot fa­cil­ity in Mo­raine, Ohio.

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